Robert Vega, Director FAC 18 / 2304 Whitis Ave. Stop G6200 78712-1508 • 512-471-7900
Texas House of Representatives, Rep. Elliott Naishtat
Spring 2009 Site ReviewStudent: Government/Rhetoric & Writing Sophomore
Position: Legislative Intern
This past semester I interned in Representative Elliott Naishtat’s office. With his experience as a veteran State Representative and the Vice Chair of the Public Health Committee, I was privileged to be front and center to many new and exciting experiences and learning opportunities.
I was scheduled to work from 2pm – 5pm Monday to Thursday. However, I often came in an hour or more early as I knew there was plenty to accomplish by 5:00. This was noticed by my supervisor and the other staff members in the office as it meant that they no longer had to answer the phones or greet people at the door, and could focus solely on their legislative assignments.
My first task when I walked in the door is to check my e-mail. The Representative receives dozens of constituent letters every day, and many of the various offices in the capitol are trying to get their constituents to send their comments via e-mail. If there is a response to the constituent’s specific issue has already been drafted, the e-mails or letters are sent to me. I read the constituent’s letter and the draft response. I edit and update the response where needed and then send the response to the constituent.
The next task of the day is to fill any committee reports that may have come in after 12:00pm. This filling system allows the Legislative Aide and myself easy access to all the reports, and makes it much easier to find a specific report. After I have filed all the reports up to this point, I check to see if a calendar, which states what bills will be heard on the floor the next day has been posted. I then pull all of these bills. As the session is coming to a close, the list of bills to be heard has grown from a mere 12 to approximately 60 bills every day.
At this point I usually come to a lull in my day. It is too early to check for afternoon mail, and the Representative is still on the floor so I cannot check the status of the current day’s bills. Therefore, I usually ask the other staff members if they have anything they need help with. Often they need copies made or files organized basic assistant type work.
Around 3:00pm or 3:30pm, I go to the mail room to see if there is any mail delivered since it was picked up at 8:00am. I return to the office either with a few letters or invitations or a stack of constituent letters, more committee reports, and invitations. I then divide the mail up by constituent mail, to be answered by a staff member, newsletters, magazines and personal mail, given to the representative, and invitations, which I enter into the scheduling system.
Around 4:00 or 4:30 a substantial amount of the bills that were heard that day are brought up to the office. Using TLIS, Texas Legislative Information Service, I look up each bill to see if it was passed, postponed, or killed. This allows us to decipher which reports are going to be heard again and need to be kept at in a pending file, which reports have passed and can be recycled, and which reports are no longer needed.
In addition to all of these tasks, I was responsible for answering incoming phone calls and greeting any visitors. Sometimes this meant taking a meeting when a staff member wasn’t present, or even helping a staff member avoid a meeting when they weren’t prepared to take it.