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00000175-b316-d35a-a3f7-bbdeff690001Agenda Texas is KUT's weekly report on the Texas Legislative session. Each week we'll take a deeper look into the policies being considered and explain what they could mean for you and your life. From transportation to education to the environment and everything in between.It's KUT's political podcast that lets you know what's happening under the dome and explains how it hits home.

Agenda Texas: A Freshman Reflects on the Session So Far

Ben Philpott

Have you ever watched a debate at the Texas Capitol? It’s not always the easiest thing to follow. With all the speakers and amendments and votes that it takes for just one bill to pass, it’s not hard to get lost.

Well what if you were one of the lawmakers, trying to navigate these legislative waters for the first time?

That’s what life’s been like for State Senator Donna Campbell. The New Braunfels Republican is one of 6 freshmen in the Senate.

Early in the session, she would often refer to her learning curve at the Capitol as, "drinking from a fire hose." Now that she's past the halfway point of the session, how's she doing?

"There is still a growth process, getting now more into the details of the process. It's not drinking from the fire hose in the same way. Now it's going to be ramping up the pace for things I've learned now and still trying to get into the details about things before we pass them," Campbell said.

She said the biggest transition for her has been from the way she works in an Emergency Room Physician. At work, she sees a problem, usually an emergency, decides on a solution and gets to work.

"Well in the Senate you can see a problem. Your common sense and your principles say, 'this is a problem, here's the solution. Let's do it.' And you stop because your one vote doesn't count as 21," Campbell said.

Because of redistricting and the need for staggered terms in the Senate, all senators had to draw straws for either a 2-year or 4-year term. Campbell, who was just sworn in January 8th, ended up with a 2-year term. And must run again in 2014. She doesn't think that's bad at all.

"You know really, truly, I'm already used to campaigning. I already have momentum where people are getting to know me they're excited to meet me. And it's an honor for me to be in this position. And I don't care how long I've been here or going to be here, it's still an honor and I am still blessed to be here," Campbell said.

(Hear the complete interview with Sen. Campbell HERE)

It’s a good thing she’s ready to run again in 2014, because she’s could have some competition in the Republican primary. Her surprise victory last fall and her Tea Party status has increased talk of an establishment-backed, more moderate candidate throwing his or her hat in the ring.

Democrats have even shown some interest in her right leaning district. They’re trying to gage whether her political views may be too conservative for the district, which could make her vulnerable in the general election.

Got a question about the session…or just want to let us know how we’re doing? Our e-mail is And you can follow us on Twitter: @AgendaTexas.

Ben Philpott is the Managing Editor for KUT. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @BenPhilpottKUT.
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