A Capital Experience
Pictured from left: Stephan Jordan ’11, Aubrey Hastings ’13 and James Hetzel ’11.
During the 2012 Session, Aubrey Hastings ’13 served as a legislative intern with the Maryland General Assembly. She worked in the office of Senator Majority Leader Robert Garagiola of Montgomery County. WC has a longstanding relationship with the Maryland General Assembly that gives students the opportunity to serve in Maryland’s capital.
Twice a week, MGA interns work in Annapolis as part of this course. Legislative Interns are given responsibility in the office that carries a work load matching that of other permanent staff members. Juggling constituent phone calls and mail is just the beginning of a typical day in the State House. In the office of Senator Garagiola, Hastings was given the opportunity to write bill testimony, talking points for the Senator on the Floor, press releases on new bills proposed and advanced, and regularly meet with lobbyists and lawyers.
“Senator Garagiola’s agenda included advancements and funding for energy-efficient projects, such as offshore wind and solar energy for businesses in Maryland, as well as joining with President Obama in promoting a significant increase in energy efficient electric cars by the year 2014,” Hastings said. “The lobbyists I met with represented organizations asking for the Senator’s continued support in such matters, including General Electric, Chesapeake Climate, and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.”
Like most state legislative bodies, Maryland is facing tough budget decisions. The major issues of the Session dealt with tapping into an independent energy source, potential gas tax hike to fund transportation, K-12 funding, teacher pensions, same-sex marriage and the overwhelming pressure to create jobs, issues not unique to Maryland.
“My most memorable experience was the day the Civil Union Marriage Bill went to the Senate Floor,” Hastings recalls. “Constituents had called in for weeks, and the capital had been overtaken by those utilizing their freedom of speech through signs and megaphones outside of the State House. Sitting with the other interns as the debate stretched to 6 hours, we all knew how our individual Senators would vote, but there was no way of telling the final outcome. In a final vote, it passed the Senate, a surprise considering that is where the bill died last year. The emotions in the room were definitely mixed that night, but it was an intense feeling knowing I just witnessed a first in the history of the State of Maryland.”
Hastings also had the opportunity to join College President Reiss during Higher Education Day in Annapolis. Senators and House members.
“The legislators were very happy to meet with us and hear about all the new things we are doing at Washington College,” says Hastings. “Several of them are alumni and had decorated their office in WC memorabilia. As soon as we met them, there was an honest connection; WC can do that.”
When asked if she would recommend the internship to others, she said, “The MGA Internship is a rewarding experience for students. No two Sessions are the same and you are truly witnessing history in the making every single day. At the end of the day you realize that you have been a part of something that changes lives. Sure, you can read about the legislative process in a book, but there is nothing like being on the Senate Floor and watching it unfold.”