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Voices from capitol hill: A citizen legislature makes a difference
Feb 11, 2013 | 716 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Rep. Becky Edwards, R-North Salt Lake, poses with legislative intern Josephine Ibisagba at the Utah capitol.
Rep. Becky Edwards, R-North Salt Lake, poses with legislative intern Josephine Ibisagba at the Utah capitol.

Josephine Ibisagba,

Legislative intern for Rep. Becky Edwards, R-North Salt Lake

 The first week of the 2013 General Session was a pretty intense week. It was interesting to see things that I learned in class displayed in reality. I think the best part was realizing that legislators are actually human like the rest of us. I realized this because I was able to see and interact with many different legislators and they all have unique personalities. One thing that is especially cool about Utah is that the legislature is under the citizen legislature formation. There are two types of legislatures: citizen and professional. A citizen legislature is characterized by legislators having jobs outside of being a legislator, as opposed to a professional legislature, where it is a year round job or profession. There are negatives and positives to both forms of legislating. However, I believe that citizen legislature allows the legislators to be more responsive to their constituents. The Utah legislature is made up of the average citizens who choose to take time out of their schedules to represent the constituents within their boundaries.

Being able to experience the legislative process up close has allowed me to observe legislators in their “political habitat”. One of the observations I have made is the lack of unawareness of how available legislators are to their constituents. I have been a meeting where a constituent sat down and explained to his legislator an idea that he had about a bill. I was astonished at how well the legislator tried to understand why it was an important bill. The truth is that the majority of bills are actually ideas suggested to legislators by their constituents. On the floor, legislators are allowed “question of privilege”; with this, legislators are allowed to acknowledge constituents who are visiting Capitol Hill during floor time. To take the time out to acknowledge constituents is yet another important way legislators connect with their constituents. They also send out surveys to see what their constituents think on both major and minor issues. Legislators take the time out to read the results and comments on each and every survey. It is important for everyone to become more involved in the legislative process because every voice counts and can make a difference.

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