Shaun Simoneau is an undergraduate senior in the Department of Public Policy’s (DPP) Fast-Track program. In conjunction with taking public policy courses this semester he is also a legislative intern at the Connecticut General Assembly (CGA) working with Representative Anthony Nolan of New London. Shaun’s day usually consists of informing Representative Nolan on events in the New London community, researching bills for his representative to sponsor, and communicating the purpose of said bills to constituents via social media and presentations.
Shaun relayed that he has felt more prepared than other interns due to the courses he has already taken in the Public Policy program. PP 1001: Intro to Public Policy teaches students how to successfully write a policy memo, a skill that Shaun says he uses every day. He is grateful for the excellent teaching of Professor Kerri Raissian and is confident in his ability to distribute key legislative information to the constituents of New London.
Additionally, Shaun has found that Representative Nolan champions policies that revolve around racial equity to best serve his diverse constituency, a goal that Shaun also strives for. Through this experience he is able to meld his personal advocacy with his representative’s legislative agenda.
Recently, he has been working on a presentation for HB5917, a bill that would ban car insurers from using credit scores to determine insurance premiums. His research into this topic has revealed the inequities surrounding race, low-income individuals and those who disproportionately carry more debt (i.e. college students), that persist under current laws. He referred to a quote by U.S. Representative Rashida Tlaib in a hearing for the same topic, “A driver with a DUI and good credit score pays less for car insurance than a driver with no DUI, no reckless driving history, and decent credit.” Credit scores do not determine one’s driving ability, and Shaun hopes this bill passes and improves equity around car insurers.
The internship has not come without its challenges, however. Due to the pandemic, the interns are virtual and this can make communicating difficult. Shaun says he only has a short amount of time to talk in real time with his Representative and while it was challenging at first, he has adapted to be organized, efficient, and succinct with what they need to discuss. The skills that he has already learned will continue to benefit him as he continues in the Fast-Track program.