When I am asked to speak to students, the most often asked question is what my job entails. I would have to say it is to debate for or against legislation that will affect Hoosier families.
I would like to walk you through the bill making process that I think will be helpful in understanding what I mean. Let’s use my domestic violence bill as an example. The bill was to fast track divorce proceedings when a spouse has been convicted of domestic violence. I was asked to introduce the bill by the coalition against domestic violence.
The concept is given to our legislative services, the legal arm of the legislature, to come up with the correct legal text. The bill is then assigned to the proper committee. In this case it was Judiciary. The responsibility of the legislator is to debate the merits of the bill and convince the committee chairman that the bill should be heard in committee.
If you are successful the chairman will put it on the schedule to be vetted by the committee. You again must debate the merits of the bill before the committee and convince them it is a good bill and should go onto the floor for debate. On the house floor you again debate the merits of the bill and try to convince the majority of the legislative body to agree with you.
My domestic violence bill passed unanimously. Mid way through the session all the house bills are sent to the senate and the senate bills come to the house. The debate process begins all over again.
Debating is a key role a representative plays. If your constituents want you to support or oppose a certain piece of legislation you have to be ready to make your case to the members of the general assembly.
My freshman year I was the co-author of the Right To Work legislation. I was furious that I could not defend the merits of the bill because the Democrats ran away refusing to debate. They spent 5 weeks in Illinois. We are paid to do a job and that job is to show up and debate. Refusing to debate was costly to them in the election.
I hope this is helpful in understanding role of an effective legislator.
– State Representative Rebecca Kubacki, Dist. 22