“Thank you, Mr. Chairman.”

Last week, I made my way down State Street for my first real visit to the state Capitol since middle school, but this trip wasn’t filled with historical facts about important men of the past or the building’s architecture and artwork. Bravo Group gave me the opportunity to sit in on a House Health Committee meeting.

Knowing that Bravo has a government relations practice also, I wanted to learn more about how the two sectors intertwine. Nick, Bravo’s summer government relations intern, let me tag along to hear Pennsylvania state representatives discuss bills regarding the country’s opioid epidemic — and I loved it.

I was unaware anyone can attend these meetings. Sitting in the room with the members of the Legislature, I felt like I was among celebrities. Knowing that I was getting to listen in on a meeting of people who were specifically chosen to make important decisions and understand complicated matters made me even more excited.

I never put much thought into the effort that goes into creating bills or all of the people who are part of the process. It was amazing to see how each representative’s point of view could contribute a different angle to any given situation. For each of the bills they discussed, which centered around opioid drug prescription regulations and education, a representative would give input on behalf of different stakeholders who would be affected by aspects of the bill if it is passed. Representatives brought up arguments for insurance companies, emergency doctors, prescribers and uninsured patients, making sure that they took every angle into consideration.

Many representatives talked about the discussions they’ve had with doctors and prescribers who are dealing with this opioid crisis and voiced their concerns. I always like to think that government officials take the time to talk to the individuals impacted by their decisions, and I heard firsthand they do.

All in all, the representatives amazed me. I was captivated by the respect they had for one another, especially when saying “Thank you, Mr. Chairman” before giving their input. I was impressed by the knowledge each of them contributed and the questions they asked. I was moved by the representatives who voted against some of the bills and how their disagreement was in defense of doctors trying to do their job. I was even amazed by Nick, a rising Penn State sophomore, who has an understanding of the world of government relations that is far deeper than mine as a rising senior.

Thanks to Bravo, I got a glimpse of a world I had never seen before. I got the chance to learn about things I wasn’t previously conscious of, which seems to be an underlying theme so far in my internship. For some people, that meeting was just one of many they would attend. For me, it was an eye-opener to how much more of the world is out there that I have yet to discover.

Lauren Koppenhaver || Harrisburg Office

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