With its close proximity to the Georgia State Capitol, Tech has become a top supplier of interns to senators and representatives. The internship program is managed by Tech’s Department of Government and Community Relations through the School of Public Policy. One intern, TJ Kaplan, a fourth-year public policy major, shares excerpts from the journal he kept as part of his internship with Sen. Butch Miller, a Republican from District 49.
Jan. 18: I met with the governor’s staff and Sen. Miller to go over what bills the administration wants to promote this year, so that Sen. Miller and the other floor leaders can get them on the floor early in the session and get them passed.
Jan. 20: I have been working for a few days now on SB 225, which addresses a loophole in the “false statements” law regarding criminal offenses. … I sat down to discuss the bill with Sen. Miller today. … After our discussion, he asked if I would introduce it to Judiciary on Monday. I was both excited and nervous.
Jan. 30: Today I presented SB 225 again in the Judiciary committee. … The bill passed out of Judiciary 7-0.
Feb. 9: Today I presented Unregistered Vehicles in the Transportation committee, which went extremely well. The last time I presented this bill, the climate was mixed. Over the past week we redrafted the bill through Legislative Counsel and have spoken with most of the Senators who serve on the committee, and have gotten their approval for the bill. This approach is advantageous because it gives them a heads up about what is coming in committee and allows me to establish relationships with the Senators and raises Sen. Miller’s profile among his peers. I have no doubt that this will come in handy later.
Feb. 21: Today was a crazy day because Sen. Miller had two bills that went to the Senate floor, a committee meeting to chair and a bill to present in House committee.
Feb. 28: There was not enough time for us to drop a bill and get it through committee, so we had to decide whether we would get another bill that isn’t going anywhere and gut it and put in our language, or whether we would try to tack it onto another bill that is already over to the House. This is possibly my favorite part about politics, the strategy and maneuvering that is required to succeed.
Feb. 29: I had the opportunity to speak with Newt Gingrich and his wife for a few minutes, which was just a phenomenal experience.
March 1: I spent most of the day working on various odds and ends. This included redoing much of the wiring in [Sen. Miller’s] office. He needed all three of the electrical outlets in the room to be changed, and for his light switch to be replaced. My fellow intern, J. J. O’Brien, and I were able to accomplish this task with minimal injury!
March 7: Crossover Day—when all bills must pass at least one chamber or die for the year! I have heard horror stories about staying at the Capitol until 2 a.m. with little time for meals, but I genuinely enjoyed it. I got to see the Democrats really fight for some of their legislation.
March 8: None of us got home until after midnight, so we came in late today. It was a good opportunity to catch up on tasks that I don’t always have a chance to do during the busy weeks.
March 29: Sine Die is an incredibly exciting time as Senators and House members run in between the two Houses trying to make deals and get their bills on the calendar. Senator Miller and I had done most of our legwork ahead of time and were completely prepared. … I will never forget the incredible time that I had during my semester in the State Senate.