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A New Delegate’s Perspective

By Sierra Jackson

Delegate Mihir Nakra from Centennial High School in San Antonio, Texas is a member of the Legislative Hyde House.

This year was his first time in the Youth & Government program.

“I’ve really enjoyed State so far this year. It’s really been interesting and helpful for me, ”Nakra said. “YG gives you so much more insight on what actually goes on in the government.”

Nakra said that he was actually nervous about his bill at first. “I was nervous at the beginning, but when closing summations came around, I knew what I was going to say, and I said it, and it was good,” Nakra said.

Nakra had his bill passed today in committee. His bill was relating to the necessity of prerequisites when purchasing long arms of handguns. He had many proponents and many opponents on his bill.

“I was kind of surprised that the committee approved my bill,” Nakra said. “They came at me with some really hard questions, and I tried to answer to the best of my ability. There were 300 mass shootings in America in 2018, and it is really a big problem. We need gun control and this is just a small step in the process.”

2019-01-26T14:58:04+00:00January 26th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Controversial Abortion Bill Denied on Hyde House Floor

By Tierra Jackson

In Hyde House, Sarah McNeely’s bill was not passed by the Legislative press this morning.

McNeely’s bill was on an act relating to allowing minors in the state of Texas to obtain a judicial bypass without parental notice and consent. Her overall bill had eight questions that were asked during her question and answer period. There were two total opponent judicial bypasses that were not passed and zero proponent amendments for the bypasses.

Following that, this bill was created for underaged girls to receive permission to get an abortion only by obtaining it by a state of Texas judge. They would not have to worry about being judged or discriminated against in result of having an abortion.

The girls would be offered to take part in the Janes Due Process to help benefit them and their future. This process is a confidential fall back plan for teens that provides free legal representations for those who have decided to do the abortion.

By implementing the judicial bypass, fewer girls would be giving birth as teenagers. McNeely’s law is to benefit young girls in Texas and give them options on what they decide to do with their unborn babies.

Meanwhile, McNeely plans on working hard to get her voice heard on her bill so it will one day be passed and benefit the future.

“I believe girls should have open options in their life,” McNeely said.

 

2019-01-26T14:54:07+00:00January 26th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Animation Regulation Bill Dies in Senate

By Katherine Funderburg

Abel Macias of Mansfield Timberview high school YMCA delegation came prepared today to get his bill through the Senate right after lunch.  

Macias’s bill was an act regulating the capacity of ammunition held in gun magazines. A gun magazine is a chamber for holding a supply of cartridges to be fed automatically to the breach of a gun. The state of Texas shall stop the sales of magazines with a capacity of more than 15 bullets. However open carry will still be enacted, with little to no change.

“This bill could potentially shrink the size and frequency of mass shootings,” Macias said, revealing the goal of this bill.

This bill was created in response to the very serious issue of mass shootings in Texas. This was meant to protect Texan children and adult lives alike. There are thousands of mass shootings in the United States every single year, and Macias thinks it high time that something was done about it.

It was not completely smooth trip: one senator attempted to quickly get everyone on to vote “nay” as to not waste time by sending this bill back to the house to only come right back, and move quicker on to other bills. Many senators pointed out there were many loopholes throughout the bill, that lead to this bill not passing from the Senate floor.

As Macias said, it is time for common sense legislation to stop mass shootings like Sandy Hook, and there are many other cases on mass shootings, but not this piece of legislature.

 

2019-01-26T14:50:39+00:00January 26th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

The Silent Sergeant of the Senate

By: Christina van Waasbergen

She quietly patrols the floor of the Senate, her face bearing an expression of intense focus. Many delegates only notice her when she taps them on the shoulder and politely, but firmly, reminds them to not lean on the railing. What many people don’t realize, however, is that she plays a vital role in the legislature.

Her name is Taaja Foster, and she’s the sergeant-at-arms for the Farabee Senate. Her job is to enforce the rules of the Senate chambers. She says that it’s a little-known but important position.

The junior from International Leadership of Texas, Arlington-Grand Prairie High School didn’t know she’d be fulfilling this role until Thursday of this week. There were not enough sergeants-at-arms, so she volunteered to take up the position. This means she will not be able to present her bill to the Senate, but, for her, it’s worth it.

“I get to see what goes on in the Senate from an outsider’s perspective,” Foster said. “Sitting in the chair, you don’t really get to see the intensity of how other delegates are researching on the sidelines or writing down questions that they need to ask in their journals, so it’s very rewarding in that sense.”

Foster says that the most difficult part of being the sergeant at arms is getting her fellow delegates to listen to her. “As I am a teenager, other teenagers don’t like taking directions from a teenager like themselves, so sometimes I will get a bit of attitude from some delegates,” she said.

However, this has not been a major problem for her.  “They’re all great kids in the Senate chambers, so it’s very easy,” Foster said. “Not many rules are violated at any given time.”

Foster recommends that other delegates consider becoming the sergeant-at-arms. “The sergeant-at-arms, while it may go underrated, it’s an extremely important position, and we need more for next year,” Foster said.

       

 

2019-01-26T14:47:41+00:00January 26th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Farabee Senate Debates the Elimination of Automatic Admission

By Sarah Roy

Delegate Caleb Zhang presented his bill to the Farabee Senate at the Texas State Capitol. In Zhang’s bill he proposed to eliminate automatic admission in colleges throughout the state of Texas. The delegates saw that this topic needed mindful deliberation and the intense debate that followed took on a variety of issues connected to the bill.

The idea behind Zhang’s bill was to open up college admissions to a more holistic point of view outside of the top 6 percent and 10 percent threshold, which would also open up a more diverse pool of applicants. This review would give the college the option to consider ethnicity, family circumstances, extracurricular talents, test scores, socioeconomic status, and other characteristics of a student during admission review. It would also be a more thorough way to review the applicants outside of just their GPA. The delegates immediately began to debate this bill, questioning Zhang on the context of it. He addressed issues such as the effect it would have on scholarships, claiming that most scholarships are currently merit-based, and how high schools would grade their students as class ranks would also be eliminated along with automatic admission because there would be no need for the percentage threshold applied by high schools.

“Most high schools outside of the state of Texas actually have stopped ranking students so the restructure of class ranks to a point based system would be and is known to be an effective change,” Zhang said.

Other concerns with the bill were mentioned, specifically involving the number of applications submitted to colleges in Texas and what system universities would use to admit students without automatic admission still being in place.  Zhang remained able to address each of these concerns effectively.

After questioning Zhang’s bill, delegates who found faults proposed amendments that they believed would add clarity and security to it. Penalties and enforcement dates were debated as well as the inclusion of specific word choices. One delegate found an issue with the use of the word “ethnicity” in the bill, claiming that affirmative action already covered this and there was no need for its inclusion.

Zhang opposed this amendment saying, “by including it [ethnicity], it’s not requiring colleges to use race as a factor in the admission process, but it gives them the option to”.

This amendment was ultimately not adopted and debate continued among the delegates as they began to look at the pros and cons on the matter. There were many points made in terms of the opposition, as delegates made claims that it would not increase diversity, but instead decrease it, as no matter what ethnicity a student is, if they were in the top 6 or 10 percent they would still receive automatic admission. Another concern mentioned was that test scores would not be a substantial factor in the admission process.

“A test such as an SAT that takes three hours should not compare to the four years of a student’s high school career,” a delegate said.

2019-01-26T14:36:14+00:00January 26th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Success Beyond Placing into General Assembly

By Noor Mohamed

For many delegates, advancing from district to state builds the intensity to win. Second-year State Affars Forum team Nahian Khan, Jedidiah Udoumah, and Samatar Samatar from Summit International Preparatory share their journey as seniors to their final conference.

“This is our last year, so obviously we wanted to win. The only problem was that we were going to face other seniors at the state conference who would also feel this way,” Samatar said.

It became a real team effort to try and earn their place into the top ten proposals to make it to General Assembly in State of Affairs. However, the competition in the room was immensely present from the moment the first proposal was put on the floor.

For many delegates, they must master the art of duality in order to see both sides to their proposal to modify it as best as they can. The best authors are those that can assertively defend their points, but also can make amendments to the concerns their peers bring up.

“As a team, we wanted to place into top ten, but I made a personal goal for myself to be as engaged as I can whether it be as an intense speaker or formulate challenging point for debatable questioning,” Khan said.

While there was disappointment in not making it into the top ten, the second year team made sure to keep their spirits up as they wanted to enjoy as much of their final conference as possible.

Khan emphasized “We’re well into Day two and I would say I’m pretty proud of us. We’re all being active and vocal in session. By coming up with new ways to challenge our peers we are in turn learning and growing ourselves and that’s what we truly come to gain from Youth and Government.”

Similarly to the senior team, many delegates come to the annual conferences with personal goals and distinct definitions of success to meet. While not everyone makes it into the final rounds of proposal debate, it doesn’t diminish the hard work they put into their room.

Youth and Government students are the best of the best and when placed amongst each other everyone’s expectations of themselves are met face-to-face. Redefining success is what makes these students such great leaders.

Many move to shift directions to a more positive outlook and analyze other ways in which they can still grow during the conference so that they can use their refined skills when they make their way back to better their communities.

2019-01-26T14:30:57+00:00January 26th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Dress for Success: YG Delegates Consider Our Conference Dress Code

By Ava Motes

Youth and Government delegates are enthused by their opportunity to promote justice and affect change across various categories, but some feel as though their right to do so has been impeded by the strict tone of our dress code.

“I think it is totally unfair that we have dress codes that do not allow the students to express the freedom they enjoy under the first amendment of our constitution,” Michael Cunningham, an advisor for the Del Valley Delegation, said.

The YG dress code not only mandated business professional attire; it specified restrictions upon physical factors aside from clothing, such as hairstyles. This raised concerns among participants who felt that the dress code went beyond encouraging event-appropriate attire to limiting personal expression.

“I noticed a point in the dress code that was saying ‘no crazy hair’. It just seemed excessive that they wanted to control our hairstyles, as though something like hair dye or dreads determine how respectable you are,” Luka Verheul, a sophomore delegate from LASA high school, said. This perspective exposes an underlying reality: the dress codes that we author and abide by have the ability to standardize what we deem professional or appropriate. The tone and content of such rules has an impact on our takeaway, and more concerningly, the formation of our opinions and portrayal of identity.

“Why is it that the men’s section of the dress code is just encouraging that we wear dress shoes or a tie while the women’s section has all of these body-oriented restrictions? There are all of these rules for them about cleavage or midriff, and there is no equivalent for the men,” Verheul said, concerned with the implications of such phrasing.

“It blatantly promotes the censorship of women’s bodies, and it comes off as condescending,” Verheul said. Many high school students share similar grievances, as campus dress codes tend to focus more on the length of girls’ shorts or the plunge of their necklines than the attire of males.

One of the contributing factors to this disparity is the fact that women tend to receive affirmations for wearing revealing clothing. According to Christelle Chatellain of the LASA delegation, it is difficult to navigate the conflicting standards of what women “should” wear.

“We get more attention and likes on Instagram when we’re showing more of our bodies, but at the same time, we’re also shamed for dressing that way,” Chatellain said. “It’s a problem in Texas, because it gets so hot here. It’s nice that shorts are available to me because they’re more comfortable, but you have to risk being objectified or judged, which is unfair.”

The shift in women’s fashion standards to accept and promote less traditional clothing allows for greater self-expression and body positivity but presents a dilemma when dressing for stricter settings. “I had to buy all new clothes to fit the dress code, which was frustrating. They’re also really uncomfortable,” Emma Castro from Del Valley High School said, “It took forever to find something I could wear, and a lot of that stuff is more expensive.”

According to Cunningham, the primary objective of clothing companies and department stores is to make money. “They care more about it being fashionable than suiting a dress code. The problem is that the rulebook doesn’t account for this,” he said.

Cunningham believes that is important to dress nicely to uphold the professional nature of this setting, but one’s demeanor and actions are a greater determinant of their right to be here. “Ultimately, it should be more about what is in your head than what is on your body. That’s what I would prefer to see students focus on,” he said.

As youth exercising civil liberties and engaging in a dialogue about societal issues, we have the ability to challenge longstanding definitions of professionalism. “Western business attire was originally a phenomenon that was used to segregate the lower class from political situations,” Verheul said, “I believe that while we need to take measures to sustain a professional environment, we should not perpetuate this rolling stone of exclusion in decision-making.”

Each generation is distinct from those that have come before, and our standards are consistently evolving. 2019 has been called “The Year of the Women”, and with that we have seen record-breaking statistics in female representation. We are in the midst of government diversification, and as we are gradually progressing, we should also strive to abandon dated standards.

The clothes we wear serve a dual purpose of function and a display of identity, and we should not have to sacrifice one of these things for the other. As we push towards making positive changes during this year’s conference, we should remain conscientious of our opinions regarding the systems in place around us.

“I’ve seen a lot of people protest the dress code in quick, expressive ways, which I really appreciate. Small things like wearing fun socks or keeping their dyed hair. I think it shows a rebellious and socially conscious spirit that will prove important in the decades to come. Things are always changing, and so should our opinions about what is acceptable,” Verheul said.

 

2019-01-26T14:26:40+00:00January 26th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

PHOTO ESSAY: Behind It All

By Gabi Jensen

Court.

The gavel: used to call attention and silence audiences. It’s history goes all the way back to 1798 when Vice President John Adams used one to call the very first U.S. Senate to order. Openings, closings, and final verdicts, the gavel holds it all within its carefully whittled handle. Some may say it’s the core of the court.

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The Capitol.

After a long evening and getting settled into the Renaissance Hotel, students woke up bright and early, while the sun was still hidden beneath the trees to prepare for the day’s events. Locations and times all varied but the value of the day was beyond imaginable. There were people on their first and on their last Texas YMCA Youth and Government State experiences. Some were trying new sections, while others were attempting to achieve mastery. All branches of legislative made their way to the Capital building today, as well as other sections, to present their work. The bills ranged from animal euthanasia to murder charge durations. The possibilities at this club are endless and the experience you take away is unimaginable.

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Hot Topic.

Following the election of Donald Trump in 2016, immigration laws have been a heavily debated topic. Christine Wu, 12th grader from Greenhill School Town North YMCA, presented her bill focusing on the topic to hearing committees on January 25th. In her words, her bill is in essence, “repealing a real Texas senate bill (SB 4); SB 4 made sanctuary cities illegal, my bill repeals that bill.” She hopes that by repealing this bill it will protect wrongful or unprompted invasions of privacy and safety of people who have the appearance of an immigrant. She hopes to give states and cities the power to decide whether or not they wish to become a sanctuary city themselves.
“I care about immigration, I spent 7 weeks over summer studying it, and sanctuary cities are the only current way for States to impact immigration policy,” said Wu. This bill in itself is testimony to how youth and government is giving teens more of a voice. It illuminates government and shows that this generation does have interests in the betterment of the state and nation; they just need a platform to express it.

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Working for a Future.

Delegates watch as Griffen Smith, 12th grader from the Dripping Springs delegation, presents a bill he created to enact a vocational labor service within prisons. Smith explains that “this will create jobs with corporations,” and he got the idea by looking around at other states and thinking “why not Texas too.” When considering this bill it was presented with many pros and cons however it’s intent remains the same: to be able to rehabilitate prisoners back into life. Thinking ahead is what we need and what Youth and Government (YAG) creates. It creates diversity and acceptance and a goal to create something better than before and leave it better than we found it. “Even though I wouldn’t personally be impacted, that does not make it any less important to me,” said Smith.
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In Session.I had the privilege to be allowed to sit in and whiteness the YAG Senate. It proceeds same as the actual senate would (with allotments and amendments for time shortages) and the process is nearly identical. Bills are presented and debated and changed and re-hashed over and over for possibly hours. It’s a long process but the reality of it is productive. I watched someone propose and pass a bill, which takes it higher and higher up the rank. All there is, is possibilities. You step in and you become apart of the government, not a fake government, but one where you truly could make an impact.

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One Family to Another.
Arjun Dodanari, 12th grader from Imagine International Academy of North Texas McKinney YMCA, proposed a bill limiting outsourcing of large and small scale corporations. He used a personal antedote about how his family has experienced outsourcing to India which related greatly to my personal experiences with the same company that he had mentioned. “As an Indian American, there’s a lot of polarization within my family, a lot of jobs my aunt and uncle have are outsourced from America” said Dodanari. This hit home in multiple ways for him, however his bill was in fact an effort to limit outsourcing by creating more security and time for families who are working for companies who wish to lay off people and outsource. His bill proposes a 1 year notice before being laid off and provisions to prevent unreasonable firing.

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Words with Impact.
“All political power is inherent in the people and all free governments are founded on their authority and instituted for their benefit” – First Constitution State of Texas, 1845.
The power of the government comes from the people, by the people, for the people. This quote expresses the balance that’s maintained by the government. We have the power, we need to use it, and Youth and Government shows the use of our power.

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Dedication Makes the Experience Sweeter.


“I have worked so hard to be here. It’s my first year in Youth and Government and everything has been new to me. I was so excited to present my bill even though I was super nervous at District. The long nights practicing in my room making my bill perfect seems worth it now.” said Sarah Giaonnatti when asked about her experience with Youth and Government

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Working for Others.

Dylan Cousins, 12th grader form Jack C. Hays High School, wrote a bill that was passed by committee for “free public college for those whose families make under $125,000, which would not personally impact me however I believe could be crucial to students who are limited by the amount of money they have access to.” He got the idea from Rice and New York, and the bill is on the docket for senate.

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The Program.Day one was a long day and these pictures tell a story of long hard nights that lead up to a beautiful day where people got a chance to express their beliefs and ideals for the future of our state. Texas Youth and Government is a program focused towards the betterment of teens and the future.

2019-01-26T14:26:14+00:00January 26th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

San Antonio Delegate’s Gun Control Bill Passes

By Sierra Jackson

Today in the Legislative Hyde House, delegate Mihir Nakra of Centennial High School got his bill passed.

The goal of his bill was that there should be more necessary prerequisites when purchasing long arms or handguns.

During the questioning period, amendments, and pro/cons speeches, many delegates questioned Nakra.

An amendment  was made stating that if a salesman does not take the correct measurements to make sure that the buyer is competent to have the firearm, he or she on the first offense will be fined $250, on the second offense, their license will be suspended for a month, and on the third offense, their license will be taken completely.

Nakra believed the amendment was important to his bill. “With one gun in the wrong hands, the effects can be be fatal,” Nakra said. The amendment was passed with a 22:24 ratio.

Evan Lee, a delegate in the same committee, was not so on board with the bill. “This bill is lacking crucial things that should be in it, so for that reason, I urge you not to vote for this bill,” Lee said.

 

“There were 300 mass shootings in America in 2018, and it’s really a big problem,” said Nakra. “We have to have fun control, gun safety. This is just a small step in the process.”

 

2019-01-26T14:22:59+00:00January 26th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Senior Attorneys Call For Change in the Judicial Section

By Meghan Wright

Through observation, it has been noted that there are a variety of problems in the Judicial Section of Texas YG. A common occurrence is for Attorney General candidates to promise change in the Judicial Section. A number of complaints have occurred over the same issue: a lack of communication in the section

“We are not first-year students but there was a lot that was not told to us. There should be training and more education materials from the State Office” said Nairn Cross from Wimberly High School in Austin.

Other Seniors have addressed issues in addition to the lack of communication. “They need to send multiple emails to our teams about affidavits. I heard rumors that the case was written by an attorney who worked with another team which caused an unfair advantage. I also think that judges need to be trained better and held to a higher standard” said Jeanna Goldsmith of the Midland Delegation.

Miles Baker, who is also from the Midland Delegation, called for attorney training. “I want for the State to provide standardized training for the prospective attorneys. I also feel like it would be fun and educational for the attorneys to take a mock BAR Exam. I would have enjoyed having a webinar or just training in general. I don’t necessarily need training but it helps the newer attorneys adjust to the way the courtroom runs. I want this club to succeed. I love this organization and it has definitely made an impact on my life.”

Statements made by multiple Senior students indicates that those who were interviewed are invested in the prosperity of the Texas Youth and Government organization.

2019-01-26T14:18:09+00:00January 26th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments
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