By Megan Chapa,
This morning started earlier than usual, but that was just fine because we were headed to Austin City Hall.
The inside of the building was just as beautiful as the outside! The modern architecture combined with the intricate art pieces made City Hall an enjoyable place to spend the day. As we began to shuffle inside the building we were led to a meeting room. Here we were served a light breakfast that consisted of breakfast tacos, fruit, and coffee. We ate quickly because the Women in Leadership panel was only a few minutes from starting. The panel began with the introductions of the panelists. Present was Austin’s Fire Chief, Rhoda Kerr; Law Department Division Chief, Deborah Thomas; Director of Small and Minority Business Resource Department, Veronica Lara; Elena Ball, VP for Power Production at Austin Energy; and lastly SHSU alumni Margo Fraiser, Austin Police Monitor. The panel spoke about dynamics of their careers, experiences that have shaped them, and gender inequalities (the latter dynamic was overly emphasized, we felt).
Following the panel was a tour of City Hall by Ms. Melodye Foust.
We learned interesting facts about the infrastructure and history. The building began its planning and renovation is 1999 and was completed in 2004. Austin City Hall is four stories high and was structure to capture nature. Each floor includes double-sided balconies that overlook the city, and on the fourth floor, Lady Bird Lake.
Ms. Foust also informed us about the partnership made with an art gallery that allowed them to house their art work. This makes City Hall not only community center, but a museum.
In conclusion of the tour, we loaded on the bus for lunch at Scholz Garten. Lunch was delicious and meaningful because this is a restaurant where “politicians” frequent!
The most exciting part of the day was the tour of the Capitol. Each time I go to the capitol I learn something new.
My favorite fact during this tour was that funds for the capitol building were raised by selling off 3,000,000 acres of land! After the wonderful tour, we gathered in the House Committee Room and awaited our guest speakers. They were an assortment of representatives, legislative directors, and policy analysts. We also gained insight of the work done at the capitol in and out of session for policy and legislation. Most policy work is done during the session and most constituent work is done immediately following session.
After a long day of learning and exploring we made our way back to our temporary residence. We jumped into comfy clothes and left for dinner. Dinner was quieter than usual because we were all exhausted from the long day of exploration.
To end the night, we made last minute touches to our HB5 presentations that we would deliver first thing the next morning in the mock hearing. I was anxious to hear everyone’s provisions of the bill!