by RAKSHA DONDAPATI Staff Writer
The 75th annual New Jersey Youth and Government Conference took place in Trenton April 12-14 and 28 students from the Monroe delegation participated.
The YMCA Youth and Government is a program in which students take part in the process of making laws.
Legislative delegates write bills. They also debate and vote on other delegates’ bills, as well as cosponsor other bills. They can either be a Senator or an Assembly member. These delegates are split up into four different legislations (Wilson, Livingston, Cleveland, and Kean) and four different committees within their legislations (regulation, commerce, community affairs, and public service).
There are also Junior Legislators that are in seventh and eighth grade.
Members of the Lobby Corps do not write bills, but they do participate in the debate and work for or against certain bills.
Judicial delegates that are part of the Courts present and come to a decision on three cases. They also participate in a mock trial case and debate the constitutionality of some bills.
Members of the Press Corps publish two newsletters – “The YAG Mag” and “Word on the Street.” They also film two video broadcasts of the conference and may participate in other parts of the conference, such as debate, with press passes.
Bills are placed in buckets within their committees, and the bills that pass their buckets move onto Chambers and the Senate. If the bill is passed in both, the bill goes to the Youth Governor, who either passes or vetoes the bill. A veto can be overridden with a two-thirds vote.
Students had a daily schedule and walked to different buildings to eat, debate bills, attend dinner programs, and more. Most of the time was spent in the Marriot Hotel, Masonic Temple, or State House. There were also a few hours of free time on April 13 during which students could attend a mixer, go to the lounge, go to a dance, or watch a movie.
“YAG was absolutly [sic] amazing experience and I am definatly [sic] doing it again next year!” said freshman Prateek Jain.
Students also voted for certain members of YAG, including Speaker of one of the Chambers, Senate President for one of the Senates, and more. The 2014 Youth Governor is Nolan Edmonson of the St. Benedict’s delegation.
At the end of conference, those few whose bills had passed were announced, as well as recipients of other awards. Some students from the Monroe delegation received awards.
Senior Minna Kim was awarded Outstanding Legislation. Sophomore Ankita Satapathy was awarded Best Judicial Brief. Senior Alexis Cashman was elected to become a CONA (Council on National Affairs) delegate, and junior Kaitlyn Dutton and senior Jamie Weiss were elected to be alternates. The Monroe delegation received the honor of Outstanding Delegation.
“My experience at YAG this year was incredible. There’s something really impressive about 500 kids coming together to debate state politics and making amazing friends in the process. Winning Best Judicial Brief did feel very gratifying, but I didn’t do it alone. Working with a team of three other kids in judicial is what made it happen,” said Satapathy.
At the end of the three days, new experiences were attained, friends were made, and goodbyes were issued. Students got into their respective buses and departed, at least until next year.
Are you thinking about participating in Youth and Government next year?