Friday, July 29, 2016

Week 12-Final Week

Hello Everyone,

I can't believe this is my last blog post of the summer. It seems like just yesterday that I started my internship here in the GA and today is now the last day . This summer experience has been amazing, I am truly blessed to have had this experience.

My last week on the job has been a pretty standard week for interim. Answering phones, handling constituent matters, and also doing whatever task asked of me. While nothing really excited happened from a work perspective, this week had some great meetings, and celebrations to attend.

First Speaker Moore, had the interns into his office for a little thank you celebration and spent time with us discussing all aspects of our summer internships. We had a great conversation around the table and enjoyed some cake. Besides just discussing how we liked our summer, he also asked us what we had planned for the future. What our goals, and aspirations were. It was very nice of Speaker Moore to take time out of his busy schedule to spend time with us. He also mentioned that if he could help us in anyway just to let him know. It was truly an honor to work for such a great person who loves North Carolina and dedicates his life to public service.

Another celebration, was for Dr. Stewart. Dr. Stewart is leaving his job here at NC State and making the move to be Vice Chancellor at the University of Missouri. The Warren Fellows were invited to attend this great event honoring a man who has made such a large impact on so many young peoples lives. Dr. Stewart is so passionate in what he does, it is so inspiring to hear him speak about all the memories he has at NC State and also to hear how his passion drives him. I have never met a person so dedicated to their passion, and for him, it is helping young people. I know that he will do great things in Missouri, I am so glad I had the opportunity to meet such a great man.

Before ending this post I would like to thank a number of people who have made this wonderful internship possible. First I would like to thank Mr. Joe and Mrs. Gail Dunn, who fund this wonderful program I am so fortunate to be apart of, without you this summer would have never have been possible. Thank you so much for all you have done for me and for this amazing program. Next I would like to thank Dr. Stewart, Dr. Jones, and Ms. Dinger. Thank you all for all your time and effort in preparing me for this internship and making it possible. Your guidance and advice helped me so much during this summer and I appreciate everything you have done for me and the rest of the Warren Fellows. Thank you so much to Speaker Moore and all of his staff for taking me in this summer. I can not express how much I have learned after interning her in the GA. Everyday, I never once walked out of this office without learning something new. I really appreciate everyone for taking the time to help me. Lastly I would like to thank Aaron Fleming for taking me under his wing. Aaron, you were a pleasure to work with, everyday was exciting and fun. I am so glad I got to work so closely with you, and had the opportunity to learn from someone as knowledgeable and dedicated as you are.

This summer was such an honor and privilege, I will always remember this summer internship. I can not express how grateful I am to have had the opportunity to learn and work with some of the best people I have ever met.

Best Wishes,
John Wesley

Monday, July 25, 2016

Week 11

Hello Everyone,

Interim time at the general assembly is in full swing, the no down time of session is no longer the case. Many people are taking this time to take vacations and time off after a busy short session. Even though the pace has slowed down and there isn't as much going on, there is still plenty of things to be done. There is always constituent phone calls and email to answer, letters to be written, and organizing to be done. Last week I spent a lot of my time doing just that.

One task of last week was getting the appointments bill letters out to people that are being appointed to different committees by the speaker. Mrs. Julie Lisella does the boards and commissions for the Speaker so I spent a lot of my time helping her put together the letter, copy of the bill, and certificates to be sent out. This task is a little boring and redundant but nevertheless it is a job that has to be done and I was happy to help out. It didn't take too long because we had all the interns from the Speakers Office to chip in which made the process so much faster.

Another interesting event from last week was Friday. If you didn't hear the NBA pulled the NBA All-star game out of Charlotte in reaction to not repealing HB2. Friday there were some phone calls from both people who were calling because they were upset by this news and others saying that they were happy to see no action being taken, even with Charlotte losing a large event like the All-Star game.
It is very interesting to hear from all sorts of people that call into voice their opinion on current event matters. As big as this news was for our state, I was surprised that there weren't more callers calling even into the week.

Heading into my last week interning with the Speakers Office, I can't help but to be sad. Not only that this internship is coming into the end, but also to not be working with some of the best people I have met and become close friends with here at the GA. As this summer is closing in, I can't help but reflect on how great of an opportunity this has been for me. I will always be grateful to the Dunn family for making this possible and also to Dr. Stewart, Dr. Jones, and Ms. Dinger for helping guide me through this amazing experience.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Week 10

Hello everyone,

Week 10 of my internship came to a close with an interesting meeting I got to sit in on with Rep. Wray and Dan Gerlach. The meeting was talking about trying to set up some funding for an early college in Northampton County. It was interesting to hear the discussion of why this needs to be done and how they were seeking funding. I really enjoyed this meeting, and getting to be apart of the discussion.

Besides this meeting that took place, my week consisted of more emails and phone calls to people with concerns and questions. This seems to be a never ending task, and can be challenging because questions can vary so much. I have to do a lot of research to make sure that I am giving accurate information and not misleading people. In some cases I just have to forward their concerns to someone who can answer the question better than I.

There was an interesting phone call I received from a lady that was very concerned about why she didn't receive a raise when she believed that she should have received it. She wanted to know who made the decision and why it was made a certain way. This question was one that I couldn't answer fully. After I did some research, I found of where she could call and find out all these answers. I learned that in this type of work, there is no way one person can answer every single question that comes along. The key is to be able to give people information where they can call and talk to those who can answer the question and that is exactly what I did. She was very pleased that I did so much research just to help her find answers, and it also makes you feel good to help people even when you can't give them an exact answer.

Next week, Lewis King, another policy advisor for the Speaker, said he may have some research projects for me concerning some Agriculture and Wildlife matters. I am looking forward to being able to work with these types of issues and having another week of learning experiences ahead.

Until next,
John Wesley

Week 9

Hello Everyone,

Week 9 of my summer internship with the Speakers office came to a close and session is all wrapped up. In my last post I thought that session would end the week of the fourth of July, but that was not the case. Instead, session ended up of the first of July at midnight and what a crazy day that was, I stayed until session ended at around midnight. The experience of watching session late in the night was awesome and watching how session closes was an experience I will never forget. Last minute wrap ups and trying to finish up before the holiday weekend definitely was a priority of all the members of the House and Senate.

The next week was relatively slow. Many people took some days off, which was well deserved after all the long days and night spent working. One part of working in the GA is that the days vary so much on how long you work, and is very dependent of what is happening that day. It goes from relaxing nothing really going on to, you aren't sure how everything is going to get done in such a short period of time. 

Now that we are in the interim, it is a slower pace than when we were in session, but still there is much to be done. I spent this week answering countless phone calls, most not very pleasant calls from people wanting to know why things happened the way they did. Mostly concerning raised for state employees. 

This week Aaron and I met with Rep. Blackwell, where we discussed something that he was wanting to start preparing to do for the up coming long session. Rep. Blackwell had a 3 page list of items we discussed, it was amazing to see how not even a week out of session he is already preparing for the next session.

This internship never fails to be interesting, it is very surprising to me how much I learn on a daily basis. Even in the interim, there is always things to be done.

Until next week,
John Wesley    

Friday, July 1, 2016

Week 8

Hello Everyone,

This week at the General Assembly has been a crazy one. Both sides, House and Senate, are trying to wrap up this short session and being apart of the process is not only a great learning experience, but also a very interesting one. This week wasn't necessarily the most busy week for me, but I have had the opportunity to sit in on committee meetings and most sessions to hear some interesting debate.

Senate Bill 770, the NC Farm Act came to the House Floor, this bill is the most important bill for the NC farmer. The Farm Act is a long and extensive bill with originally 19 sections in it. Any bill with this many sections is going to raise at least some level of debate, and it was not different for the Farm Act. Just to name a few sections with some interesting debate, section 10. This section of the bill was one to give a tax credit to companies that are constructing renewable fuel facilities. The debate that took place was whether giving the tax credit would help by the company being able to create more job in rural communities, or whether it hurt because of the losses in tax revenues. It was interesting to hear both sides of the debate. Another section that caused controversy was section 11, this section puts a fee on the sale of deer feed and the proceeds go to the Deer and Elk Farmers Association. This caused some debate because some members are against the practice of Deer and Elk farming.

The budget was passed by the Senate this week and is now on the house floor and is up for third reading today during session. Everyone in the GA is looking forward to this bill to be passed and sent to the Governor. Once it is passed that is a big part of being able to wrap this session up. While we will still meet next week to wrap up some last little things up, passing this bill is a huge step.

One very interesting thing that was really cool to watch was the joint session of House and Senate on the House floor. Being able to see all of the legislature together for a session was really awesome to watch and something I didn't know happened.

Today is going to be the last session for the Senate side and Saturday is going to be the last day for the House side. Being able to be there on the first day of session and then being able to see it come to a close and all of the in between has been a great experience. I have learned so much by being able to see the process from first hand experience and being apart of it. I am excited to be staying on for the remainder of my internship, after speaking with Aaron, he has said he has some fun things in mind for us to do. I am looking forward to being able to continue my experience into the interim.

Until Next week,

John Wesley

Friday, June 24, 2016

Week 7

Hello Everyone,
This week at the General Assembly has been interesting to say the least. With session beginning to wrap up, it has been crazy between committee meetings, long sessions, and most of all phone calls. I have learned through my time here in the GA, that you never know what kind of day you are going to have until you are done with it. One minute you are running around crazy with a million things on your plate and the next it is laid back.

Monday morning started like any other, but then all of a sudden the phone calls started pouring in. All the phone calls were pertaining to HB 1148, which is a bill that would allow people easier access to obtaining and conceal carrying hand guns. It was interesting to hear all of the people from all over the state giving their input and thoughts about the bill. The phone calls about this bill was not just on Monday but I received so many calls all week long about this bill.

One bill that I have been following is the HB 992, which is a bill about setting up a pilot program for growing industrial hemp. Wednesday morning the Senate AgNER Committee met to vote on this bill. I was very surprised to see the amount of agreement on this bill because in the House there was so much debate about Hemp vs. Marijuana, and discussion about how the pilot was going to run. Rep. Brody presented the bill to the committee and after a few questions, it passed with a favorable report. I am very excited to see how this pilot program is going to preform in our state. I have done some research about hemp products and I truly believe that this product could provide a huge economic boost to our Agricultural Economy. The goal of the Ag Industry is to grow to 100 billion dollars by the year 2020, and I believe that industrial hemp could be a huge player in reaching that goal.

Another big topic now is the NC Farm Act. Senator Jackson presented the bill to the House Agriculture Committee Thursday morning, after presenting, the bill had a lot of controversy with a couple of sections. Mostly dealing with ag water use and environmental effects. The committee suspended the vote until next week to have more discussion. I look forward to hearing more debate about this very important piece of legislation.

With all this going on and session really starting to wrap up, its a very interesting time to be working in the General Assembly. I know I say this every week in my blog post, but its so true. Everyday here is a learning experience. I spoke with Aaron about this and was telling him I learn so much every single day, his response was that he is still learning everyday and that doesn't change. I thought that was so interesting and that is one reason I like this internship so much.

So until next,
John Wesley Hairr

Friday, June 17, 2016

Week 6

Hello Everyone,
Another great week here at the General Assembly has come and gone in a flash. Every week, there is always something new going on. One event that was absolutely hilarious was a Senate vs. House milk drinking contest. Seeing Representatives and Senators loosen up and have fun is so entertaining because they are always so professional, it was so much fun to see them compete. It was also nice to see the House win!

As far as my agenda this week went, it was more of the same types of tasks and committee meetings just different bills coming through. Session this week was very interesting to sit in on because the bills presented were controversial and brought up long debates over it. It very interesting to hear both sides of the debate and to watch how the vote turns out. There was one bill that I found very interesting during the Local Government committee meeting and also when it came to the floor. It was SB 881, this bill wanted to suspend the filing of actions  by the Union County Board of Education challenging the sufficiency of local funds appropriated to the public schools by the County Board of Commissioners. The reason I found this bill so interesting is because the opposition saw this as taking away a democratic right of the Board of Education, but even more interesting was that the bill supporters were the Union County delegation. One point that a Representative made was that if all the delegates of this district are in agreement and united, shouldn't you trust they know what is best for their district? I'm still not sure what my opinion is on the matter but it made me think and question what is the correct decision.

One highlight of this week was Thursday morning when the IFAL group came to the GA. Representative and Senators came to address the group and spoke about how crucial it is to our state that our generation go back into the agriculture sector one day, to keep the state's leading economic driver growing. I was invited by my friend Cat Harward to come meet this the students and to speak briefly about my experiences since I too attended IFAL. For those of you who do not know, IFAL is the Institute for Future Agricultural. This is a program but on by Farm Bureau for rising highschool seniors. Students are exposed to NC State University and NC A&T University, and also get to gain a knowledge of the whole industry of agriculture in a week long stay. This program is near and dear to me because without this program, I would not be where I am today. During my IFAL experience I met really great people, and also discovered my passion for agriculture and wanting to go into the field one day. I will also be thankful to Farm Bureau for helping me find my passion and my career path.

I know I say this during every blog post, but it is truth. This internship is full of learning and growing opportunities. Every week, it never fails to expand my thinking and communications skills, it also is such a great networking, and relationship building experience. I will always be grateful to the Dunn Family, Dr. Stewart, Dr. Jones, and Sarah Dinger for making this experience possible and so wonderful.

So until next week,
John Wesley Hairr