Hanging Around Austin, Texas

With the first part of March spent traveling back to Huntsville  to host the Texas Supreme Court at Sam Houston, the month was off to a great start! Between experiences at the Capitol and in the city, living in Austin for the semester has been pack full of excitement! This session, I am interning for State Senator Schwertner. Senator Schwertner is the Chair of Health and Human Services Committee for the Texas Senate and is a member of several other committees. My responsibilities include a range of office tasks that range from administrative duties to policy analysis.

Kaitlyn Tyra, Austin Internship Program, LEAP Center, Senator Charles Schwertner

This month the 85th Legislative Session hit two important milestones: the sixty-day filing deadline and the Session halfway point! According to the Constitution, the first sixty days of session is the only period where bills can be filed. During this period bills can not be heard on the Senate or House Floors unless the Governor declares it an emergency item. However, after the sixty day deadline no more bills can be filed.

Now that the deadline has passed, the House and Senate can vote on regular bills. As a result, committee hearings, floor discussion, and bill analyses are an every-day occurrence at the Capitol. Also, the session halfway point has come and gone which means our 140 days of session are flying by and leaving!

Not only have I been learning every day in the office at my internship,  I’ve also had interesting experiences as a result of my internship. This month I attended the Texas Legislature’s Army Day where Legislative members and staff learned about the Texas Military.

Kaitlyn Tyra, Austin Internship Program, LEAP Center, Senator Charles Schwertner

I, along with other Legislative staff members, had the opportunity to fly out Camp Swift in Bastrop, TX, where the Texas Military Department hosts thousands of National Guard militants for training every year. During our day at camp, we flew on Blackhawk helicopters…

Kaitlyn Tyra, Austin Internship Program, LEAP Center, Senator Charles Schwertner

…participated in firearm simulations, and shot a real machine gun (with the supervision and assistance of National Guard members of course).Kaitlyn Tyra, Austin Internship Program, LEAP Center, Senator Charles Schwertner The experiences were as memorable as working inside the capitol! I appreciated that the Texas Military Department took the day to teach us through a hands-on experience about their department’s duties.

One of my favorite parts of living in Austin has included trying new restaurants every week! Often, I get together with my fellow LEAP Ambassadors and Austin Interns to try a new and exciting restaurant. This month, my favorite restaurant we tried proved to be Kebabilicious which not only has great food, but a fun atmosphere! Exploring Austin has given me new perspective and experiences that I am thankful for! I am looking forward to the rest of Session and more of our weekly food adventures!

Additionally, I have enjoyed sightseeing around Austin. This month I visited Pennybacker Bridge which is not only an architecturally interesting bridge, but includes a short hike to overlook the sprawling hillsides of Austin.

Kaitlyn Tyra, Austin Internship Program, LEAP Center, Senator Charles Schwertner, Pennybacker Bridge

Although our days at the Capitol can be long and exhausting, I always enjoy getting away from the busy city to enjoy the refreshing scenery of the hillsides.

As I continue through this session, whether I am shooting a thousand rounds per second or making my 5 mph commute through I-35, I cherish every day of my Austin experience. As the Senate gets busier I’ll appreciate a moment to just hang around in Austin.

Kaitlyn Tyra, Austin Internship Program, LEAP Center, Senator Charles Schwertner

Author: mikeyawn

Mike Yawn teaches at Sam Houston State University. In the past few years, he has taught courses on Politics & Film, Public Policy, the Presidency, Media & Politics, Congress, Statistics, Research & Writing, Field Research, and Public Opinion. He has published academic papers in the Journal of Politics, Political Behavior, Social Security Quarterly, Film & History, American Politics Review, and contributed a chapter to the textbook Politics and Film. He also contributes columns, news analysis, and news stories to news stories, having contributed more than 50 pieces in the past year. Yawn is also active in his local community, serving on the board of directors of the local YMCA and Friends of the Wynne. Previously, he served on the Huntsville's Promise and Stan Musial World Series Boards of Directors. In 2007-2008, Yawn was one of eight scholars across the nation named as a Carnegie Civic Engagement Scholar by the Carnegie Foundation.

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