Texas Senate, Sen. Judith Zaffirini
Spring 2013 Site Review
Position: Legislative Intern
Student: Plan II/Business Honors/Finance Junior
As one of Senator Zaffirini’s legislative interns, my duties are fairly varied and the time commitment is 12-15 hours per week. I work for one of her staff members (each of her permanent staff members tend to be responsible for a certain Senate committee) and thus that staff member’s related bills, as well as researching the bills that are referred to my Senate Committee that are not authored by Zaffirini. During session, I am extremely busy because Senator Zaffirini likes to be overprepared. Each of her bills requires a bill notebook, which is a legal-sized, four-ring binder that includes not only analyses of the bill, vetting, background, and relevant news, but also anticipated questions and other miscellaneous items that most other senators do not require.
Senator Zaffirini has a very strong work ethic and thus expects a lot from her staff, especially in terms of efficiency. She has standard operating procedures, which are essentially formats (for memos and letters) that all staff should adhere to.
Before session gets busy, expect to be doing a lot of prep work, such as fielding ideas from constituents and interested parties for bills, responding to letters for Zaffirini, and writing letters of recommendation on her behalf. We draft the letters, and she edits them and makes sure that they convey her wishes and desired language. This revision and rewriting process can often take more than a week, so you may be working on the same projects for a while.
However, once session gets busy, miscellaneous items get back-burned and legislation is the top priority. Senator Zaffirini files many bills, so working on those will occupy almost all of your time.