Thanks to the continued support of Dickinson Wright and the Ohio Legislative Service Commission, the interns were able to repeat a trip down south and visit Columbus Ohio!
In preparation for our visit, we began our introduction to American politics by meeting with U.S. Consul General Juan Alsace. A seasoned Foreign Service Officer with 29 years of service, Mr. Alsace was recently appointed to the post in Toronto and was very curious to learn about Ontario politics from our perspective. As a native Buffalonian, Mr. Alsace is no stranger to the unique Canadian-American relationship and was able to offer us his insights into what to expect from our tour.
Packed with information and an all-American playlist we were ready to take on the US! Arriving in Columbus to 27 degree weather in April, we quickly came to realize how dramatically different things would actually be from home.
On our first day we were greeted by Mark Flanders, Director of the Ohio Legislative Service Commission (LSC) and Tynita White, LSC Fellowship Coordinator. A non-partisan agency, the LSC provides support to the Ohio General Assembly through research, bill drafting, fiscal analysis amongst many other services. The introductory session proved especially useful as we were on a steep learning curve to learn the basics of Ohio politics.
Armed with rapid-fire questions we were fascinated by the dissimilitude. Ohioans are able to propose their own bills and even introduce changes to the Ohio Constitution! One of the most recent citizen-initiated amendments included setting term limits for Senators, (two 4 year terms) and Representatives (four 2 year terms). Meeting with our intern counterparts, the Ohio LSC Fellows, we were able to continue the conversation contrasting public policy discussions occurring in Ohio and Ontario.
Our first glimpse into the Statehouse was thanks to a personal tour by the House Clerk, Brad Young. Mr. Young explained to us how Representatives are able to vote ‘electronically’ simply by pressing a yes or no button at their desks. We were also able to envision ourselves as elected officials by taking a seat at the desks of several Representatives!