Fall: The Season of Reconnection, not Recess
With the summer travel season behind us, the new school year in full swing, and shrinking daylight hours, fall has arrived in Sacramento. For members of the California State Legislature, fall is a chance to pause the weekly back and forth commute from Sacramento and reconnect with the communities they represent. As the end of 2021 inches closer, this provides the perfect opportunity for California’s Counties to reach out to their State Senators and Assemblymembers who are using the year’s remaining months to engage with their constituents and better learn about the needs and priorities within their districts.
Before joining CSAC this summer, I spent nearly five years working for the California State Senate. For the first two years, I worked as a district representative on the North Coast before moving to Sacramento at the beginning of 2019 to work in the State Capitol. As a staffer, I resented the parliamentary term “recess,” as it implied a pause in work. As those who work in government know, pauses don’t exist when it comes to providing public service.
The interim recess may bring a sigh of relief to those in Sacramento following weeks of long floor sessions and heated policy negotiations. On the flip side, interim signifies the busiest months of the year for district staff as members’ calendars fill up with community coffees, district tours, and town halls.
State representatives and their district staff often work long days during the fall when they are no longer constrained by the rigid legislative calendar that keeps them in Sacramento four days a week. Meetings and events occurring on weekdays are no longer off-limits, and elected representatives relish the additional time to engage with constituents. For members who represent multi-county districts, fall is the best time to visit communities outside of their home base.
While state representatives and their district staff immerse in community engagement, policy staff in Sacramento use interim recess to prepare for the next legislative year. For most of the year, the average day of a Capitol staffer is slammed with policy committees, meetings with advocates, and analyzing legislation. However, the quietness of fall gives policy staff coveted time to vet potential legislative and budget proposals, engage with committee consultants and agencies, and visit their bosses’ districts when not prohibited due to a global pandemic. So, whether in Sacramento or a local district, this is an opportune time for Supervisors and legislative coordinators to plant seeds for the next legislative cycle starting in January.
As a former staffer, I know just how important these opportunities are to meet with your legislative colleagues. State Senators and Assemblymembers use these discussions to start informing next year’s legislative agenda, so don’t miss this opportunity to bring local “ground truth” to the table before the Legislature returns for the New Year.