Photo: Session Aide Maddie Sontag on the House Floor for the Intern Mock Debate. 

Hello! My name is Maddie Sontag, and I have had the privilege of working for Senator Billig for the last 3 months. It is tradition in this office for the intern to take-over the newsletter for a week. I was the intern for the first month of session, but have been Senator Billig’s Session Aide since mid-February. I guess that makes this an Intern-turned-Session Aide takeover.

As a political science and environmental studies student at Gonzaga, I could not have asked for a better introduction to working in politics than the Washington Legislative Internship Program. Although my political science classes fueled my passion for politics, nothing I have learned in the classroom can compare to the hands-on experience I have gained from working in this office.

Each day I learn something new. So far this session, I have taken notes on nearly 200 meetings, which help keep the Senator (and in turn, me) informed by stakeholders on the status of different legislation that is currently under consideration. In addition, I read all of the emails that the Senator receives, and help make sure that he knows where his constituents stand on certain issues. Daniel, our Legislative Assistant, and I work together to answer constituent phone calls and make sure we get them the help they need. These tasks, along with the first-hand exposure to the legislative process, have really helped me learn the intricacies of how a bill becomes a law – something even the best of classrooms could not have taught me.

Maddie and other Interns on the Senate Floor

I have been so inspired by watching the political process unfold in a bipartisan, productive manner. There is a sense of collaboration within Washington’s legislature that is not seen from the outside. Although there are still disagreements on policy, most of the bills that are passed are bipartisan, and the members take time to consider the strengths and weaknesses of all legislation.

Constituents and stakeholders alike advocate for the bills they care about with dedication and passion. This is an integral part of the legislative process. The legislators genuinely take that input into account; the passionate voices of the people shape the policies that are made here.

At our town hall a few weeks ago, a constituent shared a specific concern about how a bill would affect his small business. Since then, Senator Billig has taken that comment to heart, and considered potential amendments to the bill that would address this concern. It is so inspiring to see action come from the concern of an individual. To me, it shows that our legislators genuinely care, and are working hard to represent their respective districts.

This job has shown me a new side of politics and taught me that with passion and determination, change can and will be made. If you know someone who is interested in the Washington State Legislative Internship Program, they can email or for more information about next session.