Hot Seat series offers students opportunity to grill lawmakers

By Taylor Rexrode
Staff Writer

Wacoans will have a chance to speak with Texas legislators about hot-button topics before the end of the 83rd legislative session in May.

The Texas Tribune’s Hot Seat series will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Feb. 22 in the Stone Room at the Ferrell Center. The series will focus on topics from the legislative session—including public education and healthcare—and it will feature Texas Rep. Charles “Doc” Anderson, Texas Rep. Kyle Kacal and Texas Sen. Brian Birdwell.

Participants must RSVP by 9 a.m., Feb. 22 at A light lunch will be provided at the start of the event.

Hot Seat discussions are held on university campuses across Texas. Evan Smith, Editor in Chief and CEO of the Texas Tribune, said it was time to bring the conversation back to Baylor.

“We are honored to be there,” Smith said. “We’re picking Baylor because the community of Waco can come together and discuss the things that matter. It makes sense to be back at Baylor and we’re thrilled to be there.”

The event will open with 40 minutes of detailed discussion and will be followed by 20 minutes of audience questions. Judge Ken Starr will introduce the event. Smith will moderate the conversation.

Since the legislative session began Jan. 8 and will end May 27, the Hot Seat allows students the opportunity to speak out as Texas residents. Smith says the event is meant to leave “no subject off the table” so that citizens will be informed and will be able to voice their opinions.

“We all have a right to know what they’re up to and what they support and oppose,” Smith said. “They don’t have to answer tough questions unless an opportunity like this comes up. It’s important for the people of our state and the people of Waco to be better educated.”

Dr. W. David Clinton, chair of the political science department, said students and community members should take advantage of the opportunity and recognize the importance of local and state politics.

“I think a lot of Americans believe that all of politics happen in Washington D.C.,” Clinton said. “Any student who lives in Texas will be affected by the legislature’s decisions. This event is helpful in showing that very important things happen on the state and local level, things that have as much influence on their day-to-day lives.”