Students in Public Policy 154 Trek to Sacramento for a Full Day of Policymaking
Written by Rebecca Smalbach, Class of '21
Students in Public Policy 154, Politics and Policy in California, get a special treat each winter. We travel to Sacramento for a full day of experiencing in real life what we have been learning in the classroom. Our amazing professors, Joe Nation and David Crane, were instrumental in allowing us to meet the people crafting and impacting policy in the capitol―the decades of combined experience they have in the legislative and executive branches of state government, as well as in lobbying groups, means that we get an inside look at how California state government operates. We began our day by meeting Assemblywomen Anna Caballeros and then taking a private tour of the Assembly floor with Assemblymembers Marc Berman and Kevin Kiley. They discussed the intricacies of what occurs on the floor when bills are being discussed and voted on, and what it means to be a Republican (or a Democrat) during a time when Democrats hold a strong majority in the Assembly. Several other legislators came to talk to us, including Senator Henry Stern, Assemblywoman Catharine Baker, Senator Ben Allen, and Assemblywoman Laura Friedman. However, we also met several other people who have careers in the capitol that don’t involve voting on legislation. State Controller Betty Yee spoke to us about her responsibilities as chief fiscal officer of California. Jeff Le, Assistant Cabinet Secretary for the Governor, told us about the busy, never-boring schedule of an employee in the Governor’s office. Sarah Kleinberg from the Legislative Analyst’s Office talked about how to put together detailed, essential bill and topic analysis for legislators. We even got to talk to people in the media about how they covered important happenings in Sacramento politics. At the end of the day, we climbed onto the bus back to Stanford, physically exhausted but mentally refreshed, heads spinning with new ideas for the future of our state.