This week was a busy one with many hours of House floor debate and even more hours of waiting on amendments. To make the “hurry up and wait” more productive, I arranged for a group of 24 children ages 4-16 to come into the Capitol to engage in a first-hand look at the legislative process, the people behind the scenes who assist in drafting bills, and how lobbyists function in this process.
The group’s first stop was to be led on a tour of this magnificent building. They learned many interesting facts about its history from ground floor to the golden dome.
Next, several Legislators stopped down into a room I had reserved over the lunch hour to meet with the children and talk with them about their lives apart from their service here. I was pleased to learn quite a bit about my colleagues that I wouldn’t have known otherwise. The personal interaction with lawmakers helped the children to see Legislators are people just like them. They have families, favorite movies, pets, hobbies, and do many interesting things.
I also asked a member of LSA (Legislative Service Agency) to stop by to give a presentation about how bills are made. LSA is a group of Iowa Code experts with offices on the ground floor of the Capitol building whom lawmakers use to draft bills. The 10-minute video that was shown brought the legislative process down to an easily understood, elementary level. The website was also explained for parents, in how to find information being sought after.
A group of lobbyists stopped in to meet the group, as well. They explained their role at the Capitol and interacted with the children to put into practice a real-life example of lobbying parents about ice cream.
I taught the children the State’s motto, “Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain” and had them recite it several times during their day here.
To be sure the group had a positive experience and remarked there should be another session sometime in the future.