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Miller serves as page in Legislature

Nadine Miller with Ilhan Omar, the first Somali-American Muslim woman elected to the Minnesota Legislature. Omar is Democratic Farmer Labor party member and was elected in 2016. Photo submitted1 / 2
Nadine Miller with Republican Kurt Daudt, the Speaker of the Minnesota House. Miller met Daudt while working as a Page in the state Legislature. Photo submitted2 / 2

Nadine Miller has a notebook full of insights and memories on the legislative process and her work at the Minnesota Capitol in St. Paul.

Miller, a junior at Hancock High School, recorded her week as a page in the state Legislature from April 9-13.

She was one of several pages to serve in the House during the week.

".... we'd deliver notes to (legislators) given to us by the professional pages," Miller said.

The pages also wore call buttons. Legislators could buzz those call call buttons and ask for a hard copy of an amendment, a soda or a snack or other items or information, Miller said.

"We'd switch off every couple of minutes as to who would get to bring the notes," Miller said.

The pages served on the House floor for about an hour on Monday and again on Thursday.

The House, "was very busy both days," Miller said.

There were several requirements to being a page.

"As a page we had to follow rules," Miller said. The job had a dress code. There were even rules for which aisles the pages used in the House chamber.

"We couldn't have notes on the House floor," Miller said. "We couldn't walk across the floor from one door to the other in front of everyone. We couldn't be near a representative when they requested to speak on the floor. The main aisle was only for representatives. We could only go down the row aisles."

The week also include sitting in on some House committees meetings. The pages conducted their own mock committee meeting.

One committee meeting was on the subject of human trafficking and its impact on Native American women, Miller said.

The committee discussed that Native American women can be more likely taken for human trafficking. Advocates were speaking to the committee to get a bill passed that addressed human trafficking and its effect on Native American women.

The committee room has a big table in the front of the room for the committee with a small table in front of that big table. "The little table is for those testifying to the committee," Miller said. "There are places (in the room) for people to sit and watch."

As in the House, people need to ask for permission to speak, Miller said.

While the page work taught her more about the House and committees, Miller also learned about jobs and duties in the Capitol.

The pages met with the research department and deputy revisor. The research department does the research needed for various bills.

The deputy revisor's department writes draft bills and new versions of bills.

Miller takes a check of her own notes to describe the revisor's rule. Most revisors are lawyers with different types of specialities, she said.

The research department talked about the large amount of research needed for the U.S Bank Stadium built for the Minnesota Vikings, Miller said.

Miller also appreciate the interaction with three lobbyists. "They get two or three minutes with a representative and senators as they could be walking to a meeting," Miller said. "They don't get to sit down with them."

One lobbyist was with the American Cancer Society and another was from Health Partners, Miller said. The lobbyists said they are there to advocate for things to improve the state, she said.

Miller said she needed a notebook to record what she learned.

"I was just soaking in all the information," Miller said. The days passed quickly, figuratively and literally. "The page leader said 'don't be a straggler. We have to move as a unit,'" Miller said.

In addition to working in the House, watching committees, meeting lobbyists and meeting legislators, the pages also received a tour of the Capitol. The tour guide was particular interested in the architecture.

"It was interesting the way the House chamber was built," Miller said. People could be rows away from you and you could hear them whisper, she said. "It was built like an opera house," she said.

Miller had wanted to be a page when she was of eligible age. Her older brother Justin served as page while in high school. Justin Miller graduated from Hancock in 2015.

"I highly recommend it," Miller said. Not only did she learn more about the Legislature, she became even more encouraged to consider a job in state government. That likely wouldn't mean being a state legislator, but it could be in research or as a legislative assistant, Miller said.