IFBA Intern Brian Huniker looks back on his experiences at the Iowa State Capitol
My time as the IFBA Policy and Advocacy intern has been a rewarding one. Not necessarily rewarding in terms of overall accomplishment (though I am proud of the work we did), but very rewarding in terms of experience. I was pleased to have the opportunity to gain an in-depth look at Iowa’s legislative process through meeting with legislators and following our bills; and even more pleased with having the opportunity to make a positive impact on Iowa law regarding food insecure people residing in the state. Overall, I realized disappointments, redeeming moments, and most importantly, gained a lot of experience related to my study of Political Science.
My main disappointment was with the tangible end result of our bills. The work Cory and I did this session for hungry Iowans was not realized in the form of food bank legislation. In the end, none of the legislation we were advocating for had passed. The most disappointing aspect of this was the realization of just how murky politics can be. The fact that two of our bills passed nearly unanimously with bipartisan support out of their chamber of origin, but failed to even make it to the other chambers’ floor for a vote is extremely disappointing to me. It is indicative of an Iowa congress that, as a whole, may need to reevaluate their priorities for the next session.
It was not all bad. While our bills did not pass, there were members of Iowa’s congress that expressed a deep commitment to food banks in the state, as well as intangible success in experience gained for future advocating campaigns. I have no doubt that the work Cory and I did this session, coupled with the commitment that was expressed by a select group of lawmakers, will work in the IFBA’s favor in the coming sessions. Next year, we know now that getting bills through as early as possible greatly increases the chances of their passage. A more aggressive search for support from chamber leadership may also be necessary in the next session, especially if Republicans control one or both chambers. Even if they are not under Republican control, chamber leadership often controls the calendar, so meeting with that leadership may prove to be an important step in the process.
I am happy that I chose an internship with the IFBA over the others that I was offered. Not only is feeding people an easy cause to get behind, but I also do not believe that I would have received the amount of experience I gained in politics during this session anywhere else. I was given the opportunity to work at the Iowa Capitol as much or as little as I had time for, and was often left to make my own decisions based on my previous knowledge of the political system and legislative process. It was an experience that I am grateful for, and one I will not forget.