Past the Legislative Curtain

By: Wyatt E. Fraga

As part of the Baylor Law Leadership Development Program, Baylor recently took several law students to the Texas Capitol to see the Legislature in action. Their guide for this trip was Joe B. Allen, a legendary Texas lawyer and lobbyist. His goal in organizing this trip was to inspire young lawyers to get involved in the legislative process. Read what Wyatt Fraga wrote about his experience that day.

Without a doubt, there are massive public misconceptions about the legislative process, as well as the Legislature itself.

For many, it is clothed in a mysterious barrier. It’s easier to look from without and criticize an institution for the actions that are made by necessity from within.

Fortuitously, I was able to bear witness to a specific piece of legislation on an issue that has plagued Texas for decades: public education. Though everyone, both Democrat and Republican, Left and Right, Liberal and Conservative, agreed that the system was a shattered shell of what it must be. In the words of one senator: it is a schoolhouse made of several snap-fixes, held together with band aids, without a unified plan to formulate a solution.

I consider it an absolute privilege that I was able to attend such a historic process, the effects of which will echo into the future for literally generations to come. I have become interested in the future the Legislature has created for this next generation of children who will benefit from it.

This entire process that I was able to witness was illuminating, elucidating, and, above all else, inspiring. Many of the folks that man the legislative helm are lawyers, leaders of their communities that cannot sit idly by and let the state they love so much fall into disarray. I am thankful that, for the first time, I was able to see the reasons why the Legislature is so appealing to so many lawyers. The amount of change you can effectuate to positively impact the future is incredible.

Without this trip, I may have found it easy to sit idly by behind monolithic political tenets. Now, however, I see the people behind the curtain: people driven to benefit their community both now, and later. The Legislature appears to be the stewards of the future. Without strong leadership, the stewards can let infinite ruin blaze across Texas. With strong leadership, the stewards can let the fruits of prosperity blossom.

Joe B. Allen was the unifying presence to all these revelations. He is an exemplar of what it means to be a strong leader. His ability to coordinate and guide the leaders of tomorrow seems unparalleled. However, a dire question arises of who the stewards of tomorrow are when the stewards of yesterday inevitably go away. My hopes are that my generation can provide such stewardship for this great state.