Tyler Baker: Georgia General Assembly Legislative AidePosted: April 9, 2013
Tyler Baker, a junior double-majoring in Housing and Family Financial Planning at the University of Georgia, does more than cheer for UGA’s football team and enjoy the downtown scene of Athens with his friends. By being a legislative aide for the Georgia General Assembly, this young man has helped local and state representatives change state laws.
The Georgia General Assembly is the modern embodiment of a representative government in Georgia and is one of the largest legislatures in the nation. Of course, the General Assembly consists of two houses: The House of Representatives and the Senate.
So, what exactly is a legislative aide and what does he/she do for the Georgia General Assembly? According to the Georgia General Assembly website, the Assembly offers a program called G.L.I.P. which stands for Georgia Legislative Internship Program.
During this internship, approximately 35 interns receive firsthand experience of the legislative process. They are assigned to offices in the Georgia House of Representatives or the Georgia Senate and each intern will serve a unique purpose in the process and have a multitude of different tasks to perform each day. This includes legislative tracking, constituent services, media assistance, attendance at committee meetings, writing bill summaries and more. During their time at the State Capitol, interns will gain knowledge of the how state government works, how the legislative process works.
However, Baker did not apply for the internship through G.L.I.P. He says that the main outlet he went through was UGA’s very own College of Family and Consumer Sciences’ (FACS) Congressional Aide Program.
“So, I actually found out about the legislative aide program my freshman year,” Baker said. “It’s run through the College of Family and Consumer Sciences. Every year, they send about four legislative aides from the college to represent FACS at the State Capitol.”
Baker says that students who apply for the internship through G.L.I.P. are assigned to a committee in the House of Representatives or the Senate, but says that he was assigned to a local representative through the FACS program.
“I kind of got lucky through my program and I was really thankful that FACS offered that opportunity,” Baker said.
Legislative aides who applied through the FACS program get to live in Metro Atlanta and complete the internship throughout spring semester during the Georgia General Assembly session. Five students serve as aides to Athens-Clarke County representatives while one student serves as an aide to the Women’s Legislative Caucus. Most aides only work for one representative, but Baker was kind of unique.
“I worked for two representatives,” Baker said. The first was Chuck Williams. He represents Oconee County and part of Athens, so UGA is in his district. And then I also worked for Representative Jan Tankersley. She represents Statesboro, Georgia and Georgia Southern [University] is in her district.”
Baker explains that he was assigned to two representatives because their offices were next to each other, so he would just aid both.
“Since they both represented major universities in the state, they had a lot of similarities [like] rural districts and that sort of thing,” Baker said.
If you want to know more about Baker’s experience as a legislative aide, you can watch this video for more info:
Lawmakers in the General Assembly typically meet for a 40-day annual session and the final day is called “Sine Die,” which means adjourning without setting a date to return in Latin. Baker says that this day was one of the most exciting moments for him in the duration of the session because Representative Chuck Williams had been working on a piece of legislation called House Bill 517 that dealt with UGA, the Athens area and alcohol sales, which he feels he has a specific relation.
“It was a piece of legislation talking about the distance requirements for alcohol sales in relation to college campuses in Georgia,” Baker said. “He got it pushed through the House and then it went over to the Senate side…we were unsure it was going to make it and then finally on ‘Day 40’ it made it through, Senate passed it [and] House agreed.”
Baker says that he personally made a difference by committing to his part in being a legislative aide. He helped ease the lives of his two representatives which provided them more time to attend legislative committee meetings where they could be a better part of the legislature.
“I would say that my biggest contribution would have been really just making the lives of the two representatives I worked for easier,” Baker said. “I really took a huge load off their backs by dealing with their constituents, dealing with their e-mail accounts, all of their messages…there were so many issues and so many concerns that really needed a personal touch and I was able to provide that.”
By doing these tasks, the representatives he worked for got to attend committee meetings, which allowed them to be more of a “full-time legislator, not a part-time legislator and a part-time office administrator,” which Baker feels is very important.
Baker says that his greatest appreciation and learning experiences that stemmed from this internship was learning how to talk to the government, especially since his future career goals deal with business and real estate development where he says he would be dealing with the government.
“I had always been interested in politics, especially on a state level because it’s more down to earth and I feel it’s like it’s a little bit more in touch with our lives,” Baker says. “I am a Housing major in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences, so I am looking forward to a career in property management and real estate development and I learned through this internship the relationship between government and business and how they can work together to really make sure that each party’s happy…”