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Day 23: Social Services

February 14, 2012

After sitting through 25 hours of mostly boring meetings, Social Services really got interesting today!

We started voting on priorities. Legislators started trying to move their pet projects up the list to ensure they get funded. There is simply not enough money to fund the many good causes. One person correctly compared it to trying to pick your favorite child.

I knew things were getting serious when most of the committee members actually showed up for a change. I was also pleasantly surprised to learn that Sen. Niederhauser’s priorities were closely aligned with my own, as he has the political experience, clout and know-how to get things done. (I’m still lacking all three of those qualities as a true freshman!). Sen. Dayton sits next to me and she proved to be a valuable resource once the spending votes started coming fast and furious.

I watched as the committee chair got “rolled” on one or two votes. I also learned that my vote as a Senator on a committee with few senators present became more powerful than I had expected.

You see, a motion must pass through the committee with both the house and senate members. With only five senators present, my vote would break a 2-2 tie. So if even 10 or 11 house members supported a motion, one or two senators could block it.

It was an interesting day to say the least. I got chewed out by one house member, but I am no worse for the wear and tear. It was uncomfortable at times, but I am overall satisfied with the results.

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