Compiled by Youth Media Staff
In the Senate
By Ja’Mez Williams (BTW Magnet High School, Montgomery)
On the first day of debate, the Senate chamber provided arguments of critical thinking about the current mental health epidemic and how mental health awareness is not a joke but addresses a real illness. The Senate also gave a reflection of hard points about the systematic juvenile detention of African-Americans and how those aged 14-18 should not be charged as adults. The Senate was respectful, had decorum, was hard on their arguments, and members even established meaningful relationships with their opponents. The most important topic was mental health’s imperative to society.
On the second day of debate, the Senate started off with House members getting the Senate’s votes to pass a bill that allows immigrants to have access to green cards and the right to vote in state elections. In accord with “No Taxation Without Representation,” it was stated we should allow and address people who are not natives but residents of America in the political process. One delegate made an argument that we should pass the legislation, as immigrants who are green card holders deserve the right to a voice in the foundation of this country. The green card process that immigrants go through is a tedious and difficult time to obtain the right to live and work permanently in the United States. This piece of legislation will lead a pathway to making the lives of immigrants easier, with greater opportunity and the right to vote.
Other legislation for mental health classes and training to address and prevent teenage suicide and teachblack history in school institutions was discussed.
In the House of Representatives
By Jordan Graves (JD High School)
In the House committee meetings, they conversed about many different bills that could be helpful to the state of Alabama and the country. In the House of Representatives chambers, some bills debated were controversial and heavily debated. One bill that delegates responded to with interest was “GUNS!” by Libby Baty of Spain Park. She talked about how important it is for people to be registered with background checks to make sure a gun owner is a good person to have a gun instead of being someone who would inflict gun violence.
On the second day of debate, the House of Representatives debated many bills interesting to the chamber in many ways. Although some of the bills weren’t as controversial as the previous day, they were still important to people in Alabama and the United States. One bill about Human Trafficking Prevention was a very debatable and good bill.
Coverage of First Year
By Precious Clanton (Cherokee County), Tristan Smith (A.H Parker High School) and Aubree Sipsy (Cherokee County)
Many bills were debated in the First Year Education Committee. No. 19 by Sophie Hicks, addressed the use of uniforms in public schools. This bill is titled, “Establishment of Uniforms in Public Schools Act,” and would apply to any public K-12 education system. Another No. 7 by Amelia Kate Skala would provide high school students with two excused personal health days.
Many topics were addressed by bills in the Health and Transportation Committee to improve health and safety and its management. The topics ranged from a focus on familial separation, specifically when involving children, to providing an EBT service to cover the public fare required to access public transportation. These proposed changes would benefit people in low-income areas as well as society as a whole through a necessary change in the infrastructure of the health and transportation department.
The Public Safety Committee discussed a plethora of bills, from streetlights in every neighborhood and lowering the drinking age to eighteen to whether people in Alabama should even carry a weapon.
In the Environment and Transportation Committee, delegates discussed pollution issues, political backgrounds and animal testing bills.
The First Year chamber addressed many prominent and timely bills. First Year Bill No. 27, “No More Vroom Vroom,” by Anna Beth Frazier passed. It will ensure that specific mechanical shops will be required to provide vehicle inspections. The inspections would search for features such as: catalytic converters, working headlights/taillights, correct mixtures of air and fuel levels and more. Another bill that was debated was No. 43: “Hangry for Tax Relief” by Bella Angelone. It originally was meant to remove grocery taxes and to compensate for the lost revenue by raising property taxes. It was later amended to increase taxes on alcohol instead of property. This bill will remove grocery taxes and help 16% of Alabamians obtain the food they require.
>> Best Bills and Bills Signed into Law
By Aubree Sipsy and Jayden King (Cherokee County)
We followed Governor Camila Lopez around the State House for a day to see what it’s like to be a governor for Youth Legislature. We started out with an interview where we asked Camila what her favorite part was so far and what she was excited about. She said that her favorite part is watching her friends grow and be able to speak up for their beliefs. We then went to the house chamber with her and watched people present their bills. After we were done with that, we went to the first-year chamber and watched the first years present their bills and learn about Youth and Government. Governor Lopez then went on to her meetings and bill signings, ending at the Joint Session, where Hudson Campbell gave his speech about being the future Youth Governor.