The POV of a Not So Responsible YAG Delegate
Politics is one of those things that you don’t talk about to random people that you have never met. For those that know me, I do not follow that. This is because of a little club called Youth and Government (some people call it Youth in Government or YIG but they are weird nerds). I joined the club in 8th grade because one of my friends was in the club, and there was no participation fee. For the first few months that I was in YAG, I was confused and intimidated. I would be in meetings and see the juniors and seniors speak fluently and look like the knew everything on a subject. I was considering quitting the club after 8th grade, then Model happened. Model opened my eyes to the beautiful world of politics.
Before I get into the main parts of this article, I am going to give a beginners guide to YAG so you aren’t clueless reading this article. Youth and Government is a club run through the YMCA. Every April 700 plus students go to Harrisburg for the Model Convention. The Model Convention consists of three branches, the legislative, the judicial, and the press branches. I am going to focus on the legislative branch because that is the one that I have been in since 8th grade. The legislative branch consists of the House and the Senate like actual Government. The “Leg Kids” write bills about an issue that they want to address an issue within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The bills start within a group of about 10 people with similar bill topics called a Committee. If the bill passes in Committee, it has the chance to go on either the House or Senate floor depending which chamber the Bill Author is in. If the bill passes there it gets sent to the opposite chamber that it started in and is debated again. If it passes there, it is then sent to the Youth Governor, who is the head youth position in the club, and is either signed or vetoed. After that, all the bills that were passed over the weekend are sent to all the State Representatives and Senators. The Representatives and Senators take these bills and if they like them they will draft actual legislation about the issue. The most notable bills that were passed in YAG have been putting lines on the side of the road to separate the lane from the shoulder, and putting a stop sign on the side of a bus.
The 2019 edition of The Youth and Government Model convention was interesting to say the least. Going in to Harrisburg, I was confident. The year before I had my bill signed by the Youth Governor. My bill this year was putting a fine on State Representatives and Senators for not having a budget passed by the July 1 deadline. Based on what I have heard from people in our delegation and people from other delegations, was that my bill had a good chance of passing. The Thursday night of the Convention, I was approached by my Committee Chair. He told me that my bill was going to be fifth on the calendar. Being the responsable delegate that I am, I didn’t write a detailed, and in my opinion, good speech for my bill. I show up to my committee of about 10 people. The person presenting the first and second bills on the calendar were not there. The next two bills on the calendar were the bills of the Committee Chair and the Committee Secretary. The Chair then decided that I should present my bill will my crappy speech written at 11 p.m. the night before. I got up and thought that I did decent. Then I realized that no one in my Committee understood the bill. People stood up and spoke against my bill stating similar points, so Jack Walker, who was the only other person from Knoch in my committee, wrote up some amendments to the bill. The amendments covered up the majority of the problems. The committee then voted down the amendment. To simplify this entire sequence, my bill failed in epic fashion.
My weekend was thankfully not over. I still debated on the Senate floor and also in my committee. My most notable speech on the Senate floor was on changing the current way Pennsylvania gives it electoral votes. I spoke against the bill although 95% of my party was for the bill. I also spoke on another bill that made a new top two system for elections where the top two vote getters, regardless of party, makes it to the general election. I once again voted and spoke against the bill although the majority of my party was for the bill.
Being that I was one of the more senior members of the gold division I got to cosponsor two other bills. The first bill was written by Nick Kristoff and was about banning school policies against students defending themselves. The other bill was by Jake Coffield and about making Pennsylvania a right to work state or in simplified terms, made it where you didn’t have to join a union. The first bill that I cosponsored was Nick’s bill. Once again being the exemplary delegate that I am, I didn’t write a speech until a half an hour before I presented it. The bill initially seemed destined to fail as people from both parties spoke against it. I ended up giving probably my best speech I have ever given on a bill and it passed by three votes.
The story of the other bill that I sponsored has to be my favorite memory from YAG. For reference, usually our delegation advisor Mrs. Walls sends out a text every time a bill from Knoch gets on the floor or gets passed. For Jake’s bill I had no idea that it passed committee, got onto the House Floor, and passed the House. I had to leave the Senate to go to a bill signing ceremony for Nick’s bill. Unbeknownst to be, Jake’s bill got put onto the Senate callender and had to be pushed back down the calendar to when I would come back. Once again, me being the greatly prepared delegate that I am, I never wrote a speech for this bill. So as I am being called upon to give a speech on the bill I am jotting down notes and facts about the bill. I get up there and somehow give a decent speech. Then everyone who is speaking in the bill is against it. I think that this bill is going the fail terribly. Then there was an amendment proposed. Being that I was the sponsor I had to give a speech on the amendment. In previous years, if a bill was amended in the other chamber that it would have to be sent back to the original chamber and be passed again. I thought that this rule was still in effect so I said just that. This bill will have to be passed again in the house for it to be signed by the Governor. I was then informed by the presiding officer or person running the session the that rule is no longer in effect and all that is needed is a signature by the presiding officer of the other chamber, in this case the Speaker of the House. The amendment passed and eventually the bill passed unanimously and was signed by the Youth Governor.
Now looking back on my YAG career so far I am still speechless. This club has given me so much. It has given me the confidence to speak in front of crowds. It has given me the confidence the speak my opinion freely. It has most importantly given me hope that our future is one of informed students that know the problems and that want to find a solution to them together.
Interview with 2018-19 Knoch YAG President Kade Hilterman
1.How would you describe YAG to someone who has never heard of the club?
YAG is a YMCA program here at Knoch. We work all year writing billas and briefs leading up to our Model Conventio.
- How would you describe the Model Convention?
Model is an event where students all across PA take over the State Capitol Building and act as mock congressmen, attorneys, and press reporters.
- Why did you join YAG and how did you hear about the club?
My brother convinced me to join, though I first heard of it in a flyer handed out to middle schoolers.
- What is your favorite thing about YAG?
This year I was president of the club, and my favorite thing was seeing our delegates spark their minds on difficult subjects.
- Why do you think that YAG is an overlooked club?
I think the title “Youth and Government” is intimidating.
- Why should someone join YAG?
YAG is a club all about our political views. In YAG one can voice their opinion and be met with respect and understanding.
- Do you have anything else you would like to add?
YAG is a life changing club, the number of friends and opinions you will meet at model is breathtaking.