The word is "capitol" folks and that is where I spent the weekend!! (warning: long post but with pictures!)
As some of you know, I am in YMCA youth and government which is very similar to a debate club, but not.
Y&G is a program that teaches students how the state government works through doing it. By letting the students role-play politicians. In the program, there are legislators (House and Senate), lobbyists, and press members. Several very official-looking newspapers were printed throughout the weekend.
I was a House representative. Everyone wrote a piece of legislation, researched it, perfected it, re-drafted it, researched it more... until we debated it.
I will briefly explain how a bill passes into law. It needs to pass five times. First, in a committee of a few members (mine, public health and welfare, had six members plus a chairman and vice chairman.). Bills rarely fail in committee. Most people pass bills just to give them a chance to be debated, even if they don't exactly agree with the bill.
Then, the bill goes to the House chambers. You debate it in the house (and there were some crazy good debaters...) Mine passed committee of the whole (COW), unanimously (minus abstentions). After it passes committee of the whole, it goes through third read.
In third read, the chambers are sealed and they briefly review all the bills and you vote on the final passage. To gain final passage there must be a majority plus one vote. One of the bills I sponsored passed in COW and failed in third read.
The same process happens in the Senate. I had someone in our delegation sponsor my bill and he did a great job! Yay Stephen! And I felt bad because his bill failed third read in the House but he said it was okay.
After the bill passes both the House and the Senate, you have to convince the Governor (of the program, not the real governor) to sign your bill. Sometimes, your lobbyist can do that for you, but I personally talked to the governor. He signed my bill!! ^-^ It was really exciting! I was beaming when I returned to the House chambers! (and this whole time, we are actually in the real live capitol... O_o)
Gabriel had a very cool abortion bill and he spoke in favor of my bill in the Public Health and Welfare committee. I spoke in favor of his abortion bill (banning 2nd and 3rd trimester abortions) in the House.
Chris Jordan was a very good debater. I had a great time hanging out with him and listening to him talk. There were some truly great minds at Model Legislature; he is one of them.
Carlos Ochoa is another great mind. He was a beast in the House. He was a total bill-killer. As well as Chris, but Chris stood in favor of more bills. Carlos opposed most of the bills (even mine!) and when he stood in favor of bills, he only mildly supported them... He was a great debater though. Always thought of the one thing you didn't research!
Me and Christian at lunch. I don't remember this picture...
This is the House chambers during joint session.
Another lunch picture!!
A picture from pre-legislature.
Most of the bills were heard in their respective chambers. Some weren't. Many more weren't heard in the opposite chambers. And there was a great deal of political underhandedness as well. But overall, the weekend was extremely enjoyable. I got to meet a lot of great people, the debate was good, and everyone was pretty friendly off the floor. And also, my bill was signed by the governor. That was a big plus. I'll probably be back next year. It was super fun!