An average day for a state representative starts at 7 a.m. It includes bill proposals, addressing community concerns, dining at receptions, fundraising, lobbying and the family. It ends at home well into the evening, finishing the work they didn’t have time to complete at the office.
Florida state representatives Democrat Sara Romeo and Republican Sandra Murman shared their typical day with students in USF professor Susan MacManus’ Florida Politics class.
Romeo and Murman discussed their roles in the Legislature and Hillsborough County.
Romeo said in the past two years the amount of money lobbied for USF has increased.
As representatives, Murman and Romeo said they have the ability to influence where funding should be allocated.
“We have not been funded on the same level as (other state universities),” Romeo said. “We deserve it because we have a high number of students.”
Romeo and Murman, who are up for re-election on Nov. 5, said the image of a lobbyist has often been misrepresented. The idea that lobbyists attend parties is not the case, Romeo said.
“They have about 14 to 16 hour days,” Romeo said. “They are professional experts in the areas they are lobbying for.”
Murman echoed Romeo’s statement, saying that at least 3,000 bills are introduced into the House during one session and only about 400 have a chance to be passed. Murman said lobbyists are responsible for hearing both sides of the issue and providing their expertise to sort out bills that are critical.
Murman added that fundraising is a big part of re-election campaigns for representatives. But more importantly, voters should look closely at those who are giving money to candidates.
“If all their dollars come from Tallahassee, that should put up a red flag right away that something isn’t right,” Murman said.
If less money comes from the community or organizations where the candidate has worked in the past, Murman said it is likely that there is a reason local leaders don’t want to support that candidate in the elections.
Romeo and Murman both said there is a lack of voter participation from the younger generation, usually because younger people aren’t interested, or they don’t think their vote will make a difference.
“We need to tell people that this is their life and their community, and if they want any part in making something better, the best way is to practice their right to vote,” Romeo said.
Murman, however, said another way voters can gain interest in elections is to get involved in a candidate’s campaign.
“You see politics in a different perspective if you get involved in a campaign,” Murman said.