Western Colo. students and state government
The first regular session of the 70th General Assembly of Colorado convened at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 7. Per the state Constitution, the Legislature will meet for no more than 120 days, with adjournment sine die occurring on Wednesday, May 6. Since we are already under way I continue to work on the Joint Budget Committee and begin General Assembly meetings in the House chambers.
Since I’ve been busy with the start of the new session I’ve asked my legislative aide (and spouse) to write this month’s column. As a former teacher and principal, Joyce has developed an intern program for high school students in House District 57. We have worked to refine and document the program so that other rural legislators can provide opportunities to students in their districts. The program continues to evolve, but we are ready to share it with our constituents.
Thank you again, for the opportunity to serve a second, two-year term as your Colorado state representative.
— Bob Rankin
Intern in the Field program
State legislators don’t have huge office staffs working for them. Each legislator can have one full-time legislative aide and as many part-time volunteer interns as they like. These aides and interns are usually students from Denver-area high schools or colleges.
Interested students send their resumes to the Capitol, where House and Senate staff collect, review and disseminate the resumes to legislators, who then interview and offer positions to selected candidates. Legislative aides are paid positions currently earning $11.50 per hour. Volunteer interns report directly to the legislator’s aide.
Duties of the aides and interns can include, but are not limited to, running errands, answering telephones, answering and following up with email, keeping calendars, collecting regular mail, answering and/or following up on constituent requests, attending committee meetings, filing papers, representing the legislator at breakfast/lunch or lobbyist meetings when necessary, listening to/or attending committee meetings, helping with bill research, or sitting in on the House and/or Senate chambers. Legislators direct how the aides and interns can best assist with legislative duties.
At the end of the legislator’s term of office, the legislator usually awards his support staff with certificates of appreciation. These are used for resume building.
Rep. Rankin strives to be a voice for western Colorado. With my educational background we piloted an intern program last year for students from his district. The program is called “Interns in the Field.” Interested students find a teacher sponsor within their school. The sponsor then recommends the student to Rep. Rankin. The student applies for the intern position by sending in an intent form along with a resume to our office.
Each student intern keeps the representative informed of happenings within their community. They attend meetings of county commissioners, city councils and hospital and school boards, and submit newspaper article summaries or anything else that may be of interest to their representative while he is away in Denver. Each Friday during the legislative session the intern sends in a report along with a copy to the sponsor. I likewise copy the sponsor/teacher on office communication with the student interns.
The only other requirement is for the interns to visit the Capitol at least once during the legislative session.
House District 57 Interns for the 2015 legislative session were selected over the Christmas holiday. They are: Vanessa Davila, Glenwood Springs High School, sponsor Wayne Smith, government teacher; Tressa Leyba, Rifle High School, sponsor Jonathan Rice, social studies teacher; Fiona Laird, Roaring Fork High School, Carbondale, sponsor Matthew Whisler, U.S. government teacher; and Tiffany Lingo, Calden Scranton, Pearl Wyman and Treann Quick, Moffat High School, sponsor Karen Chaney, social studies teacher. Congratulations to the 2015 legislative interns.
“Under the Dome” appears on the second Tuesday of the month. State Rep. Bob Rankin, a Carbondale Republican, is in his second term in the Legislature representing House District 57, which includes Garfield, Rio Blanco and Moffat counties. Joyce Rankin is his legislative aide.
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