The delegates of the Mandeville High School Youth and Government Club attended the recent 2018 Louisiana Youth Legislature Conference held at the Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge.
This conference is an opportunity for students from around the state to come together to write, debate and pass mock legislation. Over the course of the three-day conference, each student had the opportunity to present a bill they had written about real political, social and economic issues facing the state today.
Students addressed issues such as mental health, legalizing gambling on sporting events and gun regulation.
The student-written bills were debated in a number of committees mirroring the actual governmental system. Not only were the students given the opportunity to debate, but they also facilitated debate in the committees and on the House and Senate floors.
In addition, students got the opportunity to challenge a bill’s constitutionality before a “Supreme Court.” Each committee of the House and the Senate as well as the Supreme Court were run by at least one of the state board officers elected at the previous year’s LEG conference.
By the end of the conference, votes were taken on the student bills, and if the bills were passed, they went on to be signed by the “governor” of the conference. Paralleling state government, the conference governor can sign or veto bills.
Three vetoed bills were chosen for the last day of the conference; all of the committees come together as one and the vetoed bills could be overridden. This veto override debate was the last debate of the conference, and it was an opportunity for delegates to speak in front of the hundreds of students that attend.
It was the moment where many delegates shined as they formed eloquent and convincing opinions in a short amount of time.
While one might think that speaking in front of such a large audience would be intimidating, participants of the LEG conference agreed that’s what makes it so exciting.
Megan Butler, a Mandeville High delegate, described the conference as “an inspiring experience, where you can be a part of the generation that sparks the change Louisiana deserves to see.”