Youth and Government has an array of program areas for delegates to best explore and engage in various aspects of California government, from the Department of Education to Constitutional Convention.
One of the most popular program areas is the legislature, which includes Senate and Assembly. In the two program areas, delegates sponsor bills from their delegation, argue in favor of or against the bills, and ultimately vote on them. If a bill passes, it is sent to the Youth Governor who will either sign or veto it. If signed, it will end up on the desk of California Governor, Jerry Brown.
With bills from more than 90 delegations across California, it’s quite hard for one chamber to be able to review them all. For this reason, bills are allocated to three legislation groups: Red Legislation, Blue Legislation, and Gold Legislation. Today we talked to three new delegates from Gold Legislature and asked them what motivated them to pick that program area.
Senior Harper Mark, a bill sponsor from the Culver Palms YMCA, says, “I picked Gold Legislature to push myself to speak in front of more people. I was a lobbyist last year so I was part of the legislative process, but not as much as I wanted to be.” Being a lobbyist exposed her to the legislative process and motivated her to pick Gold Legislature this year. Delegates typically join Youth and Government to develop public speaking skills and to learn and be a part of the political process. They can do just that in Gold Legislature.
Nick Sablan, a senior from Redwoods YMCA, says, “This is my last year and this is kinda the big thing, the biggest program in Y and G, and I wanted to try it.” Sablan, who also did MUN, tried out the court program and was a Lobbyist in addition to doing Forum. “I worked very closely with Legislature, and I really liked it. It seemed interesting.” He found that his time being a Lobbyist made him want to try out Legislature, as he felt very accustomed to the bill process. Additionally, it seemed to be the most popular program area and he wanted to try as many aspects of the program as possible.
Michael Shemian from Palisades-Malibu YMCA, is another bill sponsor, and hopes to get his bill passed. “I hope to progress my bill, and get other opinions and other perspectives from different delegations.” Shemian’s bill is aimed at getting excess food to local food banks rather than being disposed of. “Hopefully I can get it through Sacramento to the Youth Governor to address an issue that hasn’t really been addressed.”
The legislature is a program area that allows delegates to make tangible change in California through their bills. In fact, a number of bills have been signed by California Governor Jerry Brown that originated in Youth and Government. These bills are now California law due to the desire of delegates like Shemian to make a change.
Delegates in the youth legislature are proof that age is not a valid obstacle to having a voice in politics and making a real difference in California.