BOISE — Blackfoot High School (BHS) senior Mitchell Jensen is working as a page in the Idaho Senate. He has been spending his weekdays in Boise since Feb. 17.
"I'll be here until "sine die," Jensen said. ("Sine die" is when the proceedings have been adjourned with no appointed date for resumption.)
Two groups of six students work as pages for six weeks in the Idaho Senate during the legislative session. The Legislature normally lasts about 12 weeks.
There are 35 senators in Idaho; one senator represents each district.
As a page, Jensen's normal working day starts at 8 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, with an hour lunch.
"I'm not allowed to work over 40 hours each week so I usually work from 7:30 a.m. to 5:50 p.m., Monday through Thursday," Jensen said. "The extra four hours I work Monday through Thursday, I apply to Friday afternoons so I can drive home to Blackfoot."
As a page, Jensen runs notes from lobbyists to the senators; he does copying and "whatever they want."
Jensen is assigned to the Resources and Environment Committee that reviews bills about about farming and agriculture.
"I hear a lot of the bills that go through the committee," Jensen said. "I've learned a lot of procedural stuff; that's real cool."
Each bill is read three times, he said. The committee members definitely know what is in each bill [that is discussed in that committee].
"It's really good to work with people who are making decisions for the State of Idaho," he said. "I get to see them in action.
"I've witnessed how bills are amended or how they are voted down," he said. "If the bill is voted down, senators may try to bring the bill back another year."
Jensen witnessed the State Affairs Committee of the Idaho Senate had ruled the nullification bill was unconstitutional and decided not to pass it. Hundreds of signatures were on copies of a petition asking the governor to bring this bill back.
He was on the floor when the senators spent four hours debating the education bill.
"It's cool to sit on the floor [when bills are debated]," he said.
"It's a great experience," Jensen said. "All high school students should do this.
"I like being here to witness what legislators do; to get to know who the people are who make these big decisions," Jensen said.
State Sen. Steven Bair of Blackfoot, who represents District 28, helped Jensen apply for his page position.
"I wanted to be a page," Jensen said. "It's really fun."
Jensen arranged his senior class schedule at BHS so he could be a page. During the second trimester, Jensen carried two classes. One of these classes was We the People.
Speaking of the We the People state competition, Jensen said, "I'm not going to lie; we were on fire that day. I cannot wait for nationals."
Nationals is in Washington, D.C., at the end of April and the beginning of May.
This trimester, he is carrying three classes.
"I aspire to be a U.S. Senator," Jensen said. "It's nice to know that's what I want to be."
Jensen is the son of Trisha and Bryan Flake from Blackfoot and Adam Jensen from Idaho Falls.
He is the oldest of five siblings with two younger brothers and two younger sisters.
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