Monthly Archives: January 2017

Home/2017/January

Sitting for what she believes in

Bri Branscomb explains her journey to YG State Conference

By: Kyle Gehman

The class stands up, starts to recite with “I pledge allegiance to the flag, of the United States of America”, however, a sophomore from Leander High School stays seated.

She Bri Branscomb from the Leander High School delegation and is here for her first year debating on the House of Representatives floor. She comes from a multi-racial parent background and has strong, firm view on certain issues that she hopes she can respectfully share with other delegates.

“I think it is important for kids to be participating in democracy because we are given a right that not a lot of other countries have, and that’s a role in our government and a role in how our country will be run,” Branscomb said. “So I think if you have an opportunity to have your voice heard and open about your opinions and what you believe then you should take every chance you can take.”

For the past few months she has made the decision to not stand during the Pledge of Allegiance because of how she feels the words are not being represented.

“I’m not comfortable swearing my allegiance by saying that there is liberty and justice for every American citizen when that is a lie,” Branscomb said. “I don’t believe that everyone should sit for the pledge, and I don’t expect them to. Everyone has their own form of speaking up, and by no means does it have to be the same as mine. However, by sitting down I am taking a stand for what I believe in, and that is not something I will apologize for.”

This is her first year in the Youth and Government Program and already she has won Best Bill during the Austin District Conference. It discusses the mental health of police officers so that they may be reevaluated for duty.

“With all of these instances of police brutality in the past couple years there has been a very big rift between police and minority communities and I think that evaluating if officers are fit for duty could minimize these instances of brutality and help mend this division,” Branscomb said.

Outside of Youth and Government she is involved in her school’s newspaper as well as the theatre department. She hopes that one day she can be an actor and bring the skills that she has learned from YG into that profession.

“I think a lot of the celebrities are role models,” Branscomb said. “However, they’re not always educated so I hope that Youth and Government will help me teach people more on how our political system works and how to be more involved with not just basing your opinions off the media.”

2018-05-31T07:22:43-05:00January 31st, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

The Need to Refine Title IX

By: Nettie Comerford
To start the General Affairs session at the 2017 Youth and Government competition, Chambliss Peirson, Allison Reimer, and Lily Turner proposed, to increase accountability of schools who are in violation of Title IV and perpetrators of sexual assault in universities. The group began by sharing a testimony from an anonymous Vanderbilt student: “On June 22 of 2013, as a happy, hardworking Vanderbilt student looking forward to my future, I’ve seen with my own eyes what I was when Mr. Batey was done with me, a piece of trash, face down in a hallway covered in his urine and paw prints. Since that night all I I’ve wanted is for this to be behind me. But the process to get justice has been a never ending constant misery in my life that I can’t remember a time when this wasn’t happening.”

Although their proposal did not pass, the Delegates had hoped to strengthen Title IX by ensuring that a school’s affairs would not override legal action in cases that involve sexual assault. “Title IX is a federal law that prohibits discrimination based on sex in any federally funded education which includes private colleges…Title IX does not require schools to report incidents of sexual violence to law enforcement which we propose to make mandatory,” Pierson said. “It’s purpose is to actually carry on the case in order for the victim to get justice, because that’s the failure of Title IX, at least where it is right now,” Turner said. “The hard part of writing the proposal is working around what’s already existing, and there’s a lot of flaws in the system. It’s hard to figure out how to navigate around all the flaws.”

The proposal defined sexual assault as “any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, in which the biggest example is rape.” In universities, sexual assault is an issue that affects both sexes, according to RAINN, “11.2% of all students experience rape or sexual assault through force, or violence. Among graduate students, 8.8% of females and 2.2% of males experience rape or sexual assault. Among undergraduate students, 23.1% of females and 5.4% of males experience rape or sexual assault. Only female student victim’s, age 18-24, report to law enforcement.”  

Pierson and Turner, each seniors, are worried about attending college this coming year. Turner said, “It’s scary to think that this could be a situation that we could find ourselves in… It’s just something that needs to be changed.” Peirson believes many of the issues are the result of faulty university practices. “Law enforcement tries to bring justice to victims, I don’t think schools do

[that] at all,” Pierson said. Pierson believes schools have a vested interest in protecting students mainly because of the consequences they may face if they do not report the incidents. “They will have some federal funds taken away, or in extreme cases the Office of Civil Rights can take them to court.”

The proposal faced questions about their statistics becuase many victims who have been sexually assaulted do not report their attacks. Turner said, “A really difficult part about it is that because of the fact that most rapes aren’t reported, you can’t find a single statistic that’s 100% accurate because there’s a lot of cases that aren’t represented and that’s what everyone argued against us for. Schools try to stop it in any way they can handle it internally and law enforcement tries to do their part but if they can’t get the full story, there’s not much they can really do.”

The proposa’ls authors, also discussed how our communities can work towards improving the lives of victims. “Rape is definitely a taboo topic, so I think that makes it uncomfortable to talk about and I think that’s why progress is so slow,” Turner said. Until we are willing to talk about the reality of campus rapes, these institutions will not be motivated to acknowledge the extent of the problem.

Even though the proposal did not pass, the group continues to feel like they have work to do to better the school systems.

“It’s still something I’m passionate about. It not passing is not the end of this, there’s still more we can do,” Peirson said.

2018-05-31T07:22:44-05:00January 28th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

A Statement From Governor Kennedy in Response to Media Article

In light of a recent article released by Print Media, Governor Kennedy Montgomery has requested we release a statement to defend his reasoning behind dismissing the media from his meetings. In Print Media we honor the input from delegates and officers alike, but we also support the work and reporting of our journalists. The Print Media department of YAG will not be retracting any facts in the published article. As stated in the original article, Governor Kennedy was within his power to dismiss the media, and we are in our power to report on those dismissals.

The statement from Governor Montgomery is as follows:

One of the corner stones of democracy is the freedom of press and I, as the youth executive (The Youth Governor), believe this is a necessary part of our political process. I feel as though when the media released their statement yesterday evening they were truly mistaken because we need the press in our political system so that we can keep it honest, but our media was incredibly misguided when they said that I (Governor Montgomery) “made the decision to eject the reporter covering his cabinet meeting”. I politely asked for five minutes of privacy in which the media delegate may have made an honest and ethical misunderstanding of my statement and intentions. In order to maintain the integrity of the governor’s agenda and his governor cabinet it is imperative that he has honest moments of sincere and ethical privacy that must not be misconstrued as an attack on the media that I so passionately support.

2017-04-17T10:41:18-05:00January 28th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Pesticide Proposal Proves Progressive

By: Willow Dalehite

During the General Assembly of the State Affairs forum, proposals that passed the first round on Friday were discussed, amended, and voted on by all State Affairs delegates. Among those passed was a proposal entitled “Texas Water Quality” by delegate Noah Busbee of Dallas, which, with seven amendments, outlined a plan to improve Texas water quality by replacing inorganic pesticides with approved organic pesticides and imposing fines and other punishments for a farmer’s or vendor’s failure to follow the proposals guidelines. Busbee’s proposal was vigorously debated as delegates motioned to increase the time allotted for undebatable questions and pro and con debates, and the proceedings were interjected with bursts of humor and vehement “nay”s and “yay”s.

“While Texas is the leading producer of wind energy, its water pollution ranks among the worst in the nation. It’s the second worst water polluter in the nation, dumping 16.5 million pounds of toxic chemicals into the water each year. This is thirty times more than the next state,” Busbee said during the opening statement. The proposal addressed this issue by specifically targeting one source of water pollution (inorganic pesticides), but an opposing argument described by delegate Meera Gangasani stated that water pollutants were also caused by other factors, which the proposal did not address. “In the large scale,
[pesticides are] not really as big of a problem as other issues like industrial pollution and fracking, because those are the main sources of toxic chemicals and I thought maybe this proposal wasn’t as effective in dealing with that,” Gangasani, a con speaker, said.

This argument contrasted to the pathos-filled speech given by pro-speaker Justin Greisz, who described the negative health effects of inorganic pesticides on animals and humans as well as his stance on the importance of environmental protection. Greisz talked about the effects of DDT, a controversial chemical in the ‘60s that was eventually banned by the EPA, and Antisense, which are both inorganic pesticide methods. After mentioning the thinning effect DDT had on the eggshells of bald eagles, he said, “I just want you to remember that inorganic pesticides are killing our national symbol of freedom.” This drew some laughter from delegates in the crowd, and Greisz went on to say, “I know the switch from inorganic to organic pesticides may not be easy, but as said by the famous scholar Kermit the Frog, ‘it’s not easy being green.’” This final statement left the delegates cheering and howling with laughter as Greisz exited the stage.

Although the proposal was seriously considered by the delegates, Greisz chose to use humor and emotion in his speech to balance the facts that were important to the pro argument. “I had the pathos in there to get people feeling like they needed action, but then the humor was to help wind down so it could transition better to the next person,” he said. “It makes the change positive in their minds even though the information is negative.”

The pro and con debate was followed by a series of amendments specifying details of the proposal and addressing some of the opposing arguments. “The chief opposition was that organic pesticides aren’t as healthy and good as they may seem,” Busbee said, and an amendment proposed by Karen Chen addressed this. “Inorganic and organic fertilizers can both have a negative effect on water quality,” she said. “My proposed amendment was to replace ‘organic fertilizers’ with ‘safe alternative organic fertilizers’ because there are some proven by the CDC that are indeed safe and don’t cause negative impacts, like some organic fertilizers do.”

This amendment allowed Chen to vote for the proposal, and changed the minds of other delegates like Gangasani. “Actually I did vote pro for this proposal because one of the amendments was approving certain organic pesticides, because a common misconception is like, organic pesticides are 100 percent safe, 100 percent natural; they can’t do anything bad. But that’s not true, and one of the amendments rectified that,” she said, referring to the amendment Chen proposed.

While the amendments changed many of the delegates’ votes, Busbee’s stance on the issue remained the same. “I believe it is worth the lives that we will change and the lives that we will save to protect ourselves, to protect the environment and to protect our future generations,” Busbee said.

2018-05-31T07:22:44-05:00January 28th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Tension in the House

By: Chloe Opelt

Bill presentations in the House started at 9 a.m. on January 28, 2017. During bill presentations, delegates can develop a sense of urgency to question bill authors, turn in pro/con slips, and present amendments. One complication is time, most actions in the House are timed due to the lack thereof. Additionally, there is a large amount of delegates participating in the 2016-2017 State Conference, all of which are eager to take part in the events of the day, thus proving it to be more difficult to find time to speak individually. These obstacles are a possible cause of tension between delegates.

Richard Philip from Leander High School Delegation was constantly taking initiative in the house, as well as asserting his opinions for the house to hear in multiple different forms. When asked about his stance on the tension in the house, Philip stated that “we will go and point out factual inaccuracies, and it tends to be very vicious at times, but the moment the meeting is adjourned, we’re all friends.” Philip expressed that “this is all for the sake of debate, as well as improvement of our familiarity of the government and legislative branch.” When asked about instances of verbal altercations, Philip commented by saying “there have been a few ad homonym arguments, but that’s about it, nothing serious.” Philip considers the conference “a totally friendly competition,” and has enjoyed “making friends throughout.”

The house consists of periods where different events take place, and depending on the period, tensions can rise. Bill authors get questions thrown at them like a baseball on a field. Amendment appeals come in high numbers, with not a lot of time to cycle through all of the propositions. In order to speak in front of the house, all delegates are given a chance to rise and proclaim “Mr. Chair” in order to get the chair’s attention, so they may be called upon to speak. Most events in the house require quick thinking and alertness.  These characteristics are found often within the delegates positioned in the house, causing a whirlwind of tension to fly around while in session. Regardless of the competition, the Youth and Government program delegates tend to stay calm and keep it classy.

2018-05-31T07:22:44-05:00January 28th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Invisible Hands in the Legislature

By Caden Ziegler

The primary function of both the Lobbyists and the Governor’s  Cabinet is to push an agenda on the House or Senate. Both sections attempt to persuade Senators or people from the House to vote a certain way on certain bills.

As a Governor’s Cabinet member from Oklahoma, Grace Hunziker, says: “We are just working with the Governor to kind of oversee all of the bills… and just make sure we get the right bills on his desk for him to sign.” Unlike the Governor’s Cabinet, the Lobbyists do not push the Governor’s agenda. According to Samik Sha Deme, “

[they] kinda have [their] own agenda, and [they] form coalitions within the lobbyists so that [they] can work together.”

The two sections attempt to sway the vote on bills by “[talking] to delegates in the chambers and see what they are thinking about, and see what the general atmosphere is around [a] bill.” They Gov. Cab. or Lobbyist would then try to talk the Senator into voting the way they want.

Lobbyists can have a reciprocal relationship with Senators, Sha Deme says, “If a certain person wants you to vote for their bill, then you can work with them and try to get their bill passed if you want them to do something for you.” If a Senator doesn’t like a bill, then they will tell a lobbyist to make sure it doesn’t get passed, and in return, the Senator will vote a certain way for a bill of the lobbyists choice.

Another way that both sections can sway the vote on a bill is by taking Senators out to talk during  the voting process. This issue was addressed by the Speaker of the House at the Governor’s Breakfast yesterday morning, he said it was unfair and now forbidden.

A Governor’s Cabinet member said that they “have been super careful to not [pull people out during the voting process]”, and discussed “in the meetings that it’s not okay.” Another lobbyists stated something similar, saying that they are trying to take people out at more appropriate times, but there are times “where [lobbyists] pull [senators] out and they happen to be voting at that time.” However, the claim to “try and send [the Senators] back as fast as [they] can.”

Lobbyist advisor Curry spoke in a meeting with the entire group of lobbyists saying, “I know yesterday the Speaker of the House said don’t pull people out for the sake of them missing votes.” However, after addressing the issue, Curry states that “it’s [the Senator’s] decision to walk out, right? … So if [a lobbyist says] ‘hey you wanna come talk to me?’ that’s not pulling [the Senator] out so that they’ll miss a vote, that’s just [the lobbyists] pulling them out to talk to them. If they miss a vote, that’s on them.” After advising his lobbyists to disregard the Speaker of the Houses presented issue, he concludes the meeting with this: “If the Speaker of the House pushes back on that, you can push back, you can let us know.”

2018-05-31T07:22:45-05:00January 28th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Lower Drinking Age Proposed In Hyde Senate

By Heather Costello

The Hyde Senate debated intensely on Brent Baldwin’s, a delegate from the Christian Life Preparatory School delegation, bill that if passed would change the legal drinking age in Texas to 16.  Although, the bill didn’t pass with a 20-16 vote at the end of the secession. Proponent speaker used statistical evidence to support their bill while opponent speaker took to emotional stories to state their chase.

“I got into school one day and a friend of mine loss consciousness followed by choking on his own vomit later to be found out he had extreme alcohol poisoning,”  Emily Baker, Keller High School delegation, said.

Baldwin originally planned on writing a bill that proposed to raise the drinking age to 25. To get a true debate with his other delegates, Baldwin chose to lower the age to the controversial age to 16.

“At first I was not for the age being lowered to 16, but after doing research my opinion changed for the age limit being lower after I conducted more research,” Baldwin said.

In his opening argument, Baldwin urged people to vote for his bill because currently teens who drink that are underage do it to rebel against their parents or to break that law to be considered cool. If it was not illegal to do so, the amount of kids drinking would go down. Baldwin used a 2014 New York Time article written by Jack Healy that stated “Criminal marijuana cases in Colorado plunged by 65 percent in 2013, the first full year of legalization for personal recreational use.” Baldwin hopes the same will happen with DUI’s

“In countries that have a low drink age, majority of their DUI’s are from the ages of 35-40, because they learn how to drink responsibly” Baldwin said. 60-70%

It was not just drinking the alcohol that was being questioned, amendments were added to teach alcohol safety in all high schools instead of the highly-adopted rule of teaching alcohol abstinence. Also, opponent speakers started to connect the age of 16 with driving

Proponent speakers argued that in European countries that have a lower drinking age do not have any serious replication due to the lower drinking age. It was over 30 minutes of back and forth of debating on this issue, with good arguments from both sides. It was in the specifics of the bill that had the most effect of whether it was going to be passed or not.

“This bill prohibits people under the age of 16; 13, 14, or, 15 are completely off limits of alcohol. Some people for some reason like to have alcohol that is related to their religion and, since that violates the first amendment to the constitution, that violated the freedom of religion, and because they don’t have freedom of religion and can’t express themselves even if there is alcohol involved, in a small amounts,” Jonathan Wallace , delegate from the -Rockwall-Heath High School delegation said.

 

 

2018-05-31T07:22:45-05:00January 28th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Bill Proposes Strict Regulations for the Purchase of Firearms

By Briana Taylor

Youth and Government delegates participating in Hyde House, which is a branch of the Legislative section, spend their day presenting bills that were previously passed by Hyde Senate, and have since been passed down to them. Delegates propose amendments for bills of fellow delegates, and vote on the passage of the bills. Delegates don’t usually get to choose which bills they sponsor, but they can be observed putting the utmost effort into the presentation of the bill they are given. Sessions can last hours before a recess, which can make for a very tense environment. Hyde House can be a long and grueling process, but at the end of the day, the passing of a bill or amendment makes all the hard work and dedication worth it.  

The second bill amendment contested in today’s session was presented by Claire Oldner of the McKinney YMCA delegation (District 5). The original bill, which proposed that citizens must, “first pass several phases of testing and have an IQ of 105” in order to purchase firearms, was edited by Oldner to become, “an act declaring that in order for people to buy firearms they must first pass a motor skills test and a mental stability test.” Oldner omitted the requirement of a minimum IQ of 105, as she saw this attribute as, “unreasonable.” Claire went on to explain that the requirement of the buyers IQ does not change their intentions for purchasing the weapon. She cited the fact that, “almost 3000 gun related deaths occur in the state of Texas each year.” As Oldner explained in her opening statements, these motor skill and mental stability tests will be administered by, “psychiatrists and mental health professionals. In order to possess a gun you should be in stable mental condition and be able to pass a motor skills test.”

Many concerns arose as to the cost of the proposed mental and motor exams entailed in Oldner’s revised bill, most of which were out of her immediate knowledge. This is not uncommon in Hyde House, as they are not the original authors of their bills. These delegates sponsor a bill from a Hyde Senate Delegate, and are occasionally not aware of many of the thought processes the original authors went through when drafting the bill. However, Oldner, as well as the other Hyde House delegates, are known to answer each question to the best of their ability.

Oldner’s bill and amendment process was unfortunately cut short due to recess for lunch. This recess is voted upon by attendees of the session, seeing as though it may be cutting into their lunch time and other activities. A majority of the delegates voted in favor of adjourning for a quick recess, and that the session would reopen following the set lunch time. Following lunch, Oldner’s bill will be offered even more amendments, all of which will be voted upon by her fellow Hyde House delegates. We wish Claire the best of luck in today’s proceedings, as well as all the other delegates in attendance.

2018-05-31T07:22:45-05:00January 28th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

A Goodbye from your 2017 Print Editor

By: Grayson Porter

Being a part of Youth and Government, as a delegate and an officer, has provided me with some of the best times of my life. From learning how to hone my skills in journalism or learning how to socialize in professional settings, YG has taught me an array of skills I can use in my future.

My freshman year I joined Print Media to spend time with friends and to meet people outside of my school. I was intimidated by the idea of failure my first year, but regardless I was able to push past my fear and help contribute to my first “Golden Gavel” newspaper. I was so proud of my 150-word article on the bottom of the last page that I cut it out and hung it in my room. As my skills in writing grew, I slowly found myself working my way up the Print Media ladder – eventually earning the title of Print Editor.

Using the tools and skills I have learned through my administrators and peers, I have been pleased and honored to be the student leader in charge of Print Media. With the help of the great media staff and administrators, I am delighted with our output of articles this 2017 Texas YG conference. Even while the Print Media department has changed through the years, so has media itself and so have I. As this program has grown, I have grown right along side with it. I have seen myself develop my own writing style and a way for me to properly explain my views.

Youth and Government has impacted me, and the program has helped me find my love of journalism and of news. If I can leave the program with one thing, I would want to leave it with the knowledge that media is not disappearing. While journalism practices and the structure of Youth and Government media may change, the distribution of news is something that will never change.

I will forever be grateful for the connections I have made during my time at these conferences, and I will continue to uphold my Y-core values for the remainder of my life.

2018-05-31T07:22:45-05:00January 28th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Diet Complications

By: Chloe Opelt

Vegetarians, vegans, pescatarians, and gluten-free dieters are often unaccounted for in today’s society because of their unique eating habits. The diets these groups of people follow can be “expensive, and hard to acquire, much more so than what would be considered a ‘normal meal’,” according to Katie Horton.

Briana Taylor from the Hays High School delegation is a pescatarian, who had something to say about the situations she sometimes find herself in because of her specific diet. When asked about her diet choices, she stated that “it can be difficult to find the right things at times, but usually if I go out to eat, I can manage.” Taylor stated that she usually brings her lunch from home because she “can’t depend on other people or places” to have what she needs in a meal. When asked why she is a pescatarian, Taylor stated that “it’s much healthier, and it breaks my heart to kill animals for our consumption when there are alternatives that do not involve hurting animals.” Taylor minimizes the amount of animals sacrificed for her diet, and she has been a pescatarian for multiple years.

Katie Horton, also being from the Hays High School delegation, has no diet specifics, but was a vegetarian for about a year. Horton claimed that “it is very difficult to keep up with a diet like this in general.” Horton did not continue with the diet because it “got expensive” and her “family doesn’t support it.” Horton said “I like the idea that I wasn’t personally hurting any animals, but the facts are, that no matter what I do, animal products will be made regardless.” Horton didn’t plan on going back to a limitless diet, but managed to do so somehow. Horton believes that recently, “society has become more aware of the diet specifications of some people.” Progress has been made, as well as the exposure and attention the subject gets, but “it still isn’t enough to make sure everyone is accounted for in every situation. 

The diets found in the general public aren’t unheard of, but commonly misinterpreted. Public knowledge of all the various eating habits of the common people could prove to be beneficial in the future. Vegetarians, vegans, pescatarians, and gluten-free dieters are often unaccounted for, which then in turn can exclude this group of people from various situations such as eating out in social settings, and deprivation of variety.

2018-05-31T07:22:46-05:00January 28th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments