Youth in Government invades Tallahassee

YIG Students

Tallahassee is the capital of our state of Florida. It’s a beautiful and busy city, with a rich history and complex culture. For four days in February 2014, from Wednesday the 19th to Saturday the 22nd, it was also invaded by several hundred teenagers.

 

Youth in Government, affectionately known as “YIG” to its participants, is one of the state’s longest-running student programs. It started in 1936, when Clement A. Duran directed the first YMCA “Youth Legislature,” but the program was not officially established until 1957. The first state assembly was held December 6th through the 8th -8th in Tallahassee.

 

The Old and New Capitol Buildings_Wikimedia

The Old and New Capitol Buildings_Wikimedia

 

State Assembly isn’t just about a bunch of teenagers invading the state capitol and talking about legislature. We also invaded a local hotel for three nights and the Tallahassee Antique Car Museum for hours. State representatives and legislators, including the parents of some delegates, met us just before lunch on the first day of programs, February 20th. They spoke about what Youth in Government had meant to them in their lives and the effect they hoped it would have on its current participants.

 

While unique, the Youth in Government program isn’t completely separated from the official legislative sessions. As a special part of the program, senior and junior high school students were also allowed to hold their sessions in the actual Florida Senate, though, unfortunately, the House of Representatives was unavailable due to reconstruction.

 

Antique car museum

Antique car museum

 

Some YIG bills were also similar to bills on the state legislative docket, or supported by the Cabinet of officers that oversaw the 57th State Assembly. For example, Williams Senate bill #3036, which required that all airport employees take a human trafficking spotting class (to be administered by the airport’s Police Department), was supported by the office of the Attorney General.

 

The Youth In Government experience is split into three age groups, and a Senate and House in each of those groups. Bowen is the introductory level, for first-year delegates and high school freshmen. Sullivan is for second-year delegates, sophomores, and juniors. Williams consists mostly of seniors, but this year a large amount of junior-year delegates were allowed to join it. All delegates are aware of social and legal issues, and the bills presented at the Capital this year reflected their long hours and hard thinking. Bowen House bill 1045 raised the legal smoking age from 18 to 21. Bowen Senate bill 1022 raised the legal Florida drivers’ license age. Sullivan House bill 2009 legalized the placement of tolls on major roads. Sullivan Senate bill 2010 required all Florida high schools to offer a free standardized test prep class. Williams House bill 3137 made life skills classes a graduation requirement. William Senate bill 3044 required that pregnant minors had to take a class on the growth of the fetus, the dangers of abortion, and the side affects of abortive procedures.

 

Interior of the Florida Capitol Building_Wikimedia

Interior of the Florida Capitol Building_Wikimedia

 

The experience of State Assembly started before the actual opening ceremonies. Delegations were given tours of the capital building and research library, and several delegations were also allowed to view the state archives. One of the amazing historical pieces was a Bible from the 1600s, and the original state constitution. It broke our hearts to have to leave for lunch. Friday was the first full day of Assembly, and delegates presented and debated bills for nearly the entire day.

 

The end of the day was set apart for the Governors’ Ball, a fun-filled affair that included dinner, dancing, and visits to the Tallahassee Antique Car Museum, which held much more than the amazing vintage automobiles it featured. Saturday was the last day of committees and bills, with closing ceremonies beginning at about six p.m. After a long bus ride, supplemented by a stop for dinner, the delegations from the Tampa Bay area finally returned home at nearly one-thirty in the morning. Sunday started with an energy drink and followed the course of church, half of another energy drink, and a much-loved six-hour-long nap.

 

Youth in Government has been an honored part of the state education process for fifty-seven years. Many teens don’t think that they can speak up to debate a bill, or that they’ll ever survive their first assembly. I was one of them last year, but this year I couldn’t wait to get on the bus and get rolling, and I’m already excited for next year. I’m honored to be a part of the program, even if the side effects do include a desire to watch the state legislative session when it airs at midnight on a weekday.

 

=========================================================

 

 

Pliscott FOR WEB

Reporter, Robyn Pliscott, writes news and media reviews for The Brandon Beacon.  

=========================================================

 

 

Related Posts

  • Post Image
  • Post Image

Leave a Comment

Social Icons