I applied to the Capitol Pathways 2022 program to better understand how our state government functions and learn how policy is passed. Being a public policy major, I have worked on evaluating decision-making and assessing policy recommendations in the classroom but never saw how these efforts played out amongst policy-makers. I was paired with the organization Rethos: Places Reimagined, for whom I watched committee hearings, followed bills, gathered information on legislators, and practiced writing appropriations. Before working with this organization, I had never heard of the Historic Tax Credit (HTC) or seen how historic revitalization advances community development. Now I understand how this credit promotes economic opportunity and cultural growth for our state through a sustainable process. This experience has been invaluable because of all the fascinating new things I learned and seeing the multitude of ways I can be involved in policy. From being a lobbyist, a legislative attorney, a state senator, or even a student intern, there are so many ways to impact our local government and advocate for critical issues.
My favorite parts of this experience were meeting and awarding Representative Her for her support, attending committee hearings at the capitol, and networking with other students. I was excited to see the legislators I had been watching virtually for weeks discuss important issues right before me. I was empowered to see legislators of color offer their perspectives and discuss the roles that specific policies play for minority communities. I learned from Representative Her’s journey that anyone can get involved in government regardless of their path. I will never forget Senator Franzen’s message at the end-of-session celebration about showing up for yourself as a BIPOC by seeking out opportunities so that others can do the same in the future. The Capitol Pathways program seeks to make Minnesota’s government reflective of its diverse population, beginning with representation in leadership positions. The main takeaway from my experience was that although the legislative sessions end, the behind-the-scenes work, such as research and lobbying, never stops. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to support Rethos and their continued efforts to solidify the future of the Historic Tax Credit and expand their Main Streets program to other parts of Minnesota!