by Sienna Attema
Paul Attema, who graduated at semester, has taken advantage of the page program at the Iowa State Capitol and appreciates the opportunity. “I enjoy getting to interact with people who are influential. I have had the chance to meet the governor, the lieutenant governor, the speaker of the house, and Steve, who has all of the real power,” said Attema.
Attema works at the Capitol during the 4 month legislative session. He has many job duties that he carries out for the representatives. “Throughout the day I run different errands like making copies, getting soda pop/other refreshing beverages, and running to get things from representative’s cars. Some of the stranger things that I’ve had to do for the representatives include grabbing a spoon from the cafeteria, plugging in a computer, and helping representatives play pranks on one another,” said Attema.
Workers at the Capitol have a lot of fun, but they have serious issues to deal with as well. Bills about boilers, dog-tracking collars, and abortion have all been up for discussion. These issues are only secondary for Attema however. “I think the major problem in Iowa today is the inspection of milldams by the DNR,” joked Attema. “It is unnecessary and a wasteful use of taxpayer dollars that comes from a code that has not been updated for the modern-day.”
Even though Attema misses many of his friends, including his squad in the Journalism class, he enjoys pointing out the fact that they are still high schoolers. “I enjoy getting paid while my counterparts at school are not getting paid, even though the work that they do is less enjoyable,” said Attema.
While some employers provide health insurance, bonuses, and other benefits, the page program has a few of its own. In addition to the $9 per hour, pages receive virtually unlimited meals and snacks from the different lobbyist groups that come to influence legislators. “I have eaten Pancheros, Fong’s Pizza, Maid Rite, Famous Dave’s, and the most surprisingly delicious breakfast from the medical marijuana lobbyists,” said Attema.
Although many PC students have toured the Capitol, there are secrets that are hidden from public view. “The Capitol has many cool features, including beautiful paintings, antique architecture, the sub basement, and even a Bob Ross Chia Pet in the Democratic Caucus Office. There is an alleged passageway to the roof from the sub basement that goes through one of the columns in the House,” said Attema.
There are many exceptional people at the Capitol and Attema wishes that these people would get acknowledged for their remarkable work. “The doorkeepers are the forgotten few that protect the House floor from lobbyists and disrupting protests. Shout out to Frank, Mark, Dennis, Clyde, Al, and Georgann who don’t get enough credit for the amazing jobs they do,” said Attema.
Attema is up in Des Moines Monday through Thursday. Although this isn’t a long work week, he stays busy on the weekends as well. “When I’m not at the Capitol or recovering from the mental damage that school caused me, I work at another famed establishment: Casey’s General Store,” said Attema.
If any students want to become pages for the 2019 Legislative Session, all they have to do is fill out an application at the state government’s website. After that, a smaller group is chosen for the interview process from which roughly fifteen people are chosen for the House of Representatives. “Overall, I would recommend this program if you are going in on the House side. Just don’t apply for the Senate. We don’t talk about what happens over there, but the reporters sure do,” said Attema.