If you are a history and politics nerd like myself, you can only imagine what it is like to be surrounded by two of my favorite things five days a week.
Since I was in high school, it has been a goal of mine to become a page for the South Carolina General Assembly. I was always told that this was such a great way to expose yourself to our state’s lawmaking process, and this advice is so true. Since I was appointed, I have never been so up close and personal to important decisions that are made on behalf of our state.
My first day working as a page will be a day that I will not soon forget. I remember walking from the Solomon Blatt Building, which houses the offices of the South Carolina House of Representatives, by way of the underground garage. As you walk up the ramp that leads to the metal detector, you are then greeted by an escalator. This escalator is designed to transport House and Senate members to the first-floor lobby. When I took this same route, I was so excited to be able to walk through this grand lobby with rose and white marble flooring past the offices of the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor and step onto one of the dual iron staircases that leads to the second-floor lobby.
I remember my first day walking into the House Chamber. It was pretty incredible, to say the least. I just felt a sense of awe and reverence in part of all of the great South Carolinians that have walked in this Chamber. Additionally, it is pretty cool to see portraits on the wall of Thomas Jefferson, Ronald Reagan and John C. Calhoun.
One would think that the Chamber would be a place where quiet is demanded at all times, but this is not the case. During session, the Chamber is one of the most chaotic places that I have ever been in. People come in and out of the Chamber, representatives conversate with each other and there are debates over bills and issues taking place. One of the “grunt work” jobs for pages while in the Chamber is to man the door that connects the vestibule to the interior of the Chamber. This is usually a task reserved for the newest pages (AKA: myself).
I don’t think I have ever had such a good arm workout compared to holding that heavy, wood and glass door!
When a representative needs the assistance of a page, he or she simply presses the yellow “Page” button on their personal desk. It is then our job to walk to the representative’s desk and inquire on what he or she needs. These tasks could range from going to fetch a fresh cup of coffee, retrieving a personal effect from the Solomon Blatt Building and carrying some important documentation to the Legislative Bill Room on the first floor of the State House. Being someone that also loves the law, it is also very interesting to run documents to the Legislative Council Room on the second floor of the State House between the Senate and House Chambers.
This room is used by attorneys that are on staff for the South Carolina General Assembly to provide council for issues, assistance in drafting bills and research for bills for state senators and representatives. It is a beautiful room with a spiral staircase that leads to a lofted library on the second floor.
While working as a floor page, I am able to see the legislative process up close and personal. I get to see debates, recognition of people that have made contributions to our state and important issues that affect our state discussed on the House floor. I am so thankful to have this opportunity to work around some of the most intelligent and competent individuals in the state of South Carolina.