The First Three Weeks
I’ve been trying to avoid Scot Turner as I walk around the Capitol because I feel guilty about not publishing my second column; however, the first three weeks have flown by without the chance to sit and reflect on what is happening, much less sit down and write about it. Somehow the days are both fleetingly short and amazingly long all at once. They fly by with the speed of light, but at the same time, seem to be 48 hours long, and I’m completely exhausted at the end of them.
After three weeks, I feel like I’m finally starting to get my feet under me a little bit, and I’ve found most of the ladies restrooms (which they cleverly hide in the Capitol) and figured out how to wind my way through the office building to the cafeteria, but I often find myself overwhelmed with a feeling of complete awe and the sense of the immense responsibility that has been given to me. It’s humbling and a little terrifying, to say the least.
The first week was full of ceremony. Our families came to the Capitol, and we were all sworn in. I was honored to be chosen to escort Speaker Burns into the House Chamber as he began his tenure as our new Speaker of the House. It’s hard to describe the feeling of being a small part of Georgia history, and I still cannot believe that I am one of 180 people who are entrusted with this role. When I look back at the pictures of the day, I am smiling like a goofball in most of them. Later that week, Governor Kemp hosted a state dinner in the beautifully decorated Capitol, and we attended his inauguration and the inaugural gala that night. Looking back, the whole week seems a little blurry and unreal because it was so jam packed.
The second week was Budget Week, and freshman were encouraged to attend the Appropriations hearings and listen to all the presentations of the heads of state agencies. I sat in three days of budget presentations and began to wrap my head around a $32 billion budget, all of our governor’s priorities, and the needs of the state agencies which are published in a 400 page document. Freshmen are not appointed to the Appropriations Committee as members, but it was extremely interesting and informative to be allowed to sit in.
During Week 3, we got our office assignments and began to get down to business. Before I was sworn in, everyone told me that my freshman year would be spent “just learning” and trying not to drown under the avalanche of emails and papers. It didn’t work out this way. I was appointed vice chairman of the Special Rules Committee, a deputy whip, and chairman of the Education Curriculum Subcommittee. I was also appointed to the Defense and Veterans Affairs Committee which is vitally important to the Houston County community. I am honored that so many people are putting this much faith in my abilities. The learning curve is steep, and I’m learning on the fly, but I’m excited by the new challenges ahead.
All in all, I am enjoying my time in Atlanta, even if it’s a little bit noisier than Warner Robins when I’m trying to sleep. I have a cute apartment not too far from the Capitol, and a wonderful roommate. What has taken the most getting used to, however, is being away from my family. I knew I would miss them, but I REALLY miss them. Another thing that is different are my weekends when I am home. We don’t meet in the House on Fridays this year, so I have three days back in the district to attend events and meet with constituents. I also try to cram in family errands, kids’ activities, house cleaning, laundry, and meal prep for the week. Luckily, my husband is a great cook, so he is very at home in the kitchen, and no one is starving while I’m gone. I still worry about if my people are getting places on time, eating properly, and doing their homework. It’s just plain hard to be away from your family, even if it’s for a really good and important reason. But, doing the work of the people of Georgia and representing my district is completely worth it. I look forward to writing more about my freshman session, and hopefully, I’ll do better with the regularity of my columns so that I don’t have to duck when I see Scot coming toward me.