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”My Last Week in US”

June, 9 2016

The last week of the fellowship started with a Training on Legislative procedure held by Stephen Dehrer and Fred Messerer. The training was attended by the new attorneys of the Office of legislative Counsel and the senior ones as well. The training provided us with information about the Bill process: Introduction; First reading and Committee Referral; Amendments; Appropriations committees. I found out that there is a Parliamentary manual designed specifically for state legislatures called "Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedure". So in cases that are not covered by the adopted rules of the Houses, the Assembly, Senate, and Joint Rules cites Mason's as authority.

 

I also attended a meeting of the Fair Political Practices Commission. The Fair Political Practices Commission is a five-member independent, non-partisan commission that has primary responsibility for the impartial and effective administration of the Political Reform Act. The Act regulates campaign financing, conflicts of interest, lobbying, and governmental ethics. The Commission's objectives are to ensure that public officials act in a fair and unbiased manner in the governmental decision-making process, to promote transparency in government, and to foster public trust in the political system.
The Commission's agenda consisted of items regarding the campaign contributions and reporting issues, conflict of interest, lobbying, campaign statement non-filer. The amount of proposed penalties varied from 200$ to 80000$.

 

Taking into consideration that my colleagues were very interested and curios about Moldova and its culture, I decided to make a presentation about the history, economy, government structure, cuisine and traditions of Moldova. Almost all attorneys from the Office attended the event. Also I was interviewed by the Californian State Capitol newspaper. I shared with them my impressions about USA, my work experience in the Office of Legislative Counsel and about my fellowship in general.

 

During the week for us was arranged a tour of Governor's Office. We have been welcomed by the Governor advisors with whom we discussed the sequence of key events in the budgetary process. The governor is legally required to submit a balanced budget to the legislature. In turn, the legislature is legally required to adopt a balanced budget in June.

 

We also had a State Agency tour at the Department of Education. The former general counsel, Marsha Bedwell explained us how a state agency functions. During this tour we had the opportunity to meet the Department of Education's legal staff, the executive team, and staff of the government affairs office. We discussed with the representatives of the Department issues that the executive branch of government faces such as how the department acts and interprets direction from the legislature, how the different levels of government (federal, state, and local) affect their operations, what happens with the department when it gets sued, and how the department interacts with the public. Also we discussed with Debbie Look, senior legislative advisor from the Legislative Affairs Office, about the role and input of the Department of Education in the legislative process. This tour helped us understand better how the state government operates.


At the end of the week we had a luncheon with representatives of the Senate Office of International Relations. Ezilda Samoville, the Director of the Office, made a short presentation about the activities of the Office. The mission of the Office is to assist Senators in furthering strong economic and diplomatic ties between California and the rest of the world. It was interesting that through all the gifts that Office received from different international guests I found a souvenir plate from Moldova.

A very unusual and interesting event we attended was the "Frog jump contest". Frog jumping is a competitive pastime in which frogs compete to jump certain distances. Frog jumping was made famous in a short story by Mark Twain, "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County." Many legislators competed to set the record of the longest jump and the shortest jump. It was unusual and funny to see senators and assembly members shouting at frogs and trying to scary them.

An honored event for me was the introduction of all international fellows from Myanmar, Malaysia, Vietnam, Ukraine and Moldova on the floor of the Californian State Senate. We were welcomed by the Senators Allen, Jackson, Hertzberg, Pan, Wieckowski and Huff with whom we took a memorable picture.

 

In the weekend I explored a little bit the southern California, I visited the City of Angels (Los Angeles). I fell in love with this international city. If you are a foreigner you fit very well in it, it's like being home. For me L.A. is the city of entertainment and the paradise of good mood. I visited the Santa Monica's Pier and Venice Beach, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Hollywood Sign and Griffith Observatory. This trip was an amazing experience.

 

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