As an intern for the 8th District and a Communications major, Kelsey Sullivan took the opportunity to spend a day shadowing Sen. Kraus and sharing with our office her observations of the work of a legislator.
On April 2, 2013, I had the privilege of shadowing Sen. Kraus for a legislative work day. The senator starts a typical morning off preparing for the day ahead of him. He goes over his schedule and then prepares for the meetings, presentations and committee hearings he has that day. He reads bills, talks with his staff, and makes sure he is fully aware of every aspect the bill or meeting will present. When the senator finds an issue with a bill he is presenting or supporting, he takes the necessary steps to fix the problem. On this day, a problem arose with Senate Bill 117, which would allow veterans stationed in Missouri to pay in-state tuition for their college education. The senator was supposed to present the bill in a House committee, but found an amendment inside the bill that could potentially harm the veterans if passed. The senator quickly made a phone call to Senate Research in order to have the amendment removed from the bill and assured that it would be best for veterans wishing to gain a college education. I was surprised to see how the senator knew exactly with whom to talk in order to fix the problem, and how quickly the issue was resolved. It was amazing to see a public official paying such close attention to the intimate details of an amendment and making sure it prevented any avenue of potential harm to constituents.
The senator also prepared for his committee hearing on Senate Bill 26, which has been a much-discussed bill that would allow changes in the tax policy in Missouri for the first time in 40 years. He prepared by rereading the bill and its summary, and talking to his staff about possible debate topics for the hearing.
The senator then attended the House of Representatives Veterans’ Affairs and Health Committee hearing to present the SB 117, and also the House of Representatives’ Ways and Means Committee hearing to present SB 26. In both hearings, the senator presented the bills and then opened the floor for questions. He answered in-depth questions, and spoke to present a solid case to pave the way for the bill to potentially pass the House committees. I was curious to see how many witnesses come to these hearings to speak out for their organizations and to defend their positions. It made me realize how complicated this process of government actually is, and what difficult obstacles need to be navigated by lawmakers in order to get their legislation heard and passed.
After these committee hearings, Sen. Kraus took time to prepare for the rest of his day, including serving on the Senate Seniors, Families and Pensions Committee, conducting a meeting with members of the Department of Corrections, attending session on the Senate floor, and presenting Senate Bill 380 in a hearing before the Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee.
In the Senate Seniors, Families and Pensions Committee, the senator listened to witnesses and asked questions on presented bills. The senator listened to these bills, asked clarifying questions, and questioned the actions and effects of each bill. After, the senator took his seat on the floor during session where certain bills were read and then voted upon for perfection.
Upon conclusion of that committee hearing, Sen. Kraus met with representatives from the Department of Corrections (DOC) to go over SB 380. He asked these members of the DOC questions, and read over the bill and its summary to make sure he was fully prepared to present it in committee later in the day. After that review meeting, the senator attended the Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee to presented SB 380 to the committee for a hearing. He offered the bill language and answered questions from the committee members to clarify the intent of the bill. After these engagements, the senator was finally able to call it a day and prepare for the next day.
After shadowing the senator for a legislative work day, I learned a great deal about the political process and what it takes to be a lawmaker. I found that the senator doesn’t have time to take breaks. He is continually preparing, researching, meeting with constituents, attending and presenting at committee hearings or he is in session. He is a very busy man, and filling his role as senator, while a great privilege, is extremely challenging. I am confident that Sen. Kraus is, as I’m sure all senators are, working hard for my community and my rights as a citizen. I’ve learned it’s a detailed job, but Sen. Kraus is happy to do it, and he thrives on advocating for the rights of his constituents.
Visitors to our Capitol office this week included: members of the Lee’s Summit School District Citizens’ Advisory Committee, Business Roundtable and Board of Education; Kansas City Civic Council Chief Executive Officers; John Barker; and our office’s awesome intern from last year, Nathan Mikle.
Resolutions were given from the 8th District office to four young men for achieving the rank of Eagle Scout: Zachary Turner, Aaron Ratigan, Daniel Ratigan, and Austin Ruddell.
State Senator Will Kraus-R serves District Eight and is a resident of Lee’s Summit.