What’s Next

IMG_2824By Senta Ritter and Katie Thompson

As the 2018 Youth in Government Model Legislative and Judicial conference comes to a close, the seniors say their final goodbyes as delegates. The press had the opportunity to interview some of the seniors to reflect on their time in the program and their plans for the future. The delegates interviewed were Newspaper and Blog Director Eden Rose, and Representative Nicole Kennedy. Both plan on studying at the University of Delaware. While Kennedy will continue her passion of Public Policy, Rose will be majoring in Anthropology. She is a part of the World Scholar Program and will be studying abroad in Rome, Italy for her first semester.

In all four years, Rose has been a part of the Western Family Y delegation. Kennedy on the other hand, has been in YiG for seven years at both the Conrad and Western Family Y delegations.

Rose’s favorite YiG moment was spending time with her old roommates and staying up having late night conversations. One of the roommates, Natalie Walton has had one of the biggest impacts on her. Natalie came back this year as an advisor, and in years past she helped Rose come out of her shell and be more comfortable. Eden came in as a “really quiet kid who didn’t want to put myself out there, afraid of messing up.” Through YiG, she’s learned that “everything isn’t as important as it feels like and you should live your best life trying your hardest at the things you enjoy rather than staying back and just observing.”

Kennedy’s favorite YiG moment was a few years ago, when alum Mabel D’souza had received a character kudo from Kennedy and she thanked her for it. Just like Rose, Kennedy learned that “everyone has a voice and showed me how powerful people can be when they come together.” For Nicole, Mrs. Tracy made the biggest impact on her time at YiG. “In sixth grade she persuaded me to join and without her I definitely would never have considered it. She really helped me grow and I don’t know what I would have done without her.”

Youth in Government has made a major impact on both girls and shaped who they are. Without the program, they both admit they wouldn’t be as outgoing as they are today. The future delegates have a ton to look forward to as both Rose and Kennedy plan on coming back as college advisors. To all the seniors who are leaving, everyone in the program wishes you the best of luck in your future endeavors.

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Voter Registration Bill

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By Shannon Quinn,

        With all of the fresh new bill topics being introduced this year, there are a few that are especially interesting, and stand out among the rest. One of these bills was written by Dounya Ramadan, and it’s regarding voting registration in America’s high schools.

Under the “Purpose” section on Ramadan’s bill, she states that “The purpose of this bill is to mandate a statewide voter registration initiative in all secondary education schooling establishments and high school homeschooling programs.” Dounya is proposing that Delaware implements a mandatory initiative at all high schools where students ages 16 and up are required to attend an assembly where they are given access to computers if they don’t have access to computers/cell phones of their own. At this assembly, they would be shown a statewide PowerPoint presentation on the importance of voting. There, they will be the option to register to vote through the given website; turbvote.org.

This initiative is going to try and increase the amount of young people willing to vote. This bill is quite interesting, because in our most recent election, there were a very high amount of people who didn’t vote at all. Voting is very important to the well-being of our country, and it’s considered by many to be a civic responsibility. Increasing the amount of young people registering alone would help our voting system immensely and also encourage older voters to vote more often. Overall, this topic is very interesting and applies well to what’s going on in our country today. It’s definitely one of the stand-out bills that is bound to make a great debate.

Judicial Case

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By Anudeep Chennuri

This year’s Judicial Case focuses on the legality of license plates, and looks into a decision made by the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles Board. In this case, the Texas Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) proposed a special license plate design with a Confederate battle flag. The board rejected this proposal. This cases focuses on the rejection of the proposal, and if this rejection violated the Sons’ free speech rights.

In 2009, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Texas Division, applied for a specialty license plate. The bottom of the plate read “SONS OF CONFEDERATE VETERANS,” and at the side was the organization’s logo, which read, “Sons of Confederate Veterans 1986.” Additionally, there was a faint Confederate battle flag, along with the license plate number and the State’s name and silhouette. The Board’s predecessor denied this application.

The SCV renewed its application before the Board in 2010. Initially, the vote was deadlocked, with four members of the Board in favor of the plates, and four members against the plates. The Board ended up rescheduling the vote, hoping that all nine members of the Board would be present.

After considering many public comments, as well as an open meeting, the Board voted unanimously at its second vote against issuing the plate, explaining that it had found “it necessary to deny th[e] plate design application, specifically the confederate flag portion of the design, because public comments had[d] shown that many members of the general public find the design offensive, and because such comments are reasonable.” The Board added, “that a significant portion of the public associate the confederate flag with organization advocating expressions of hate directed toward people or groups that is demeaning to those people or groups.”

This year, Judicial delegates will debate in favor or against the legality of the Confederate License plates. Those arguing in favor of the plates claim that to deny the application of a certain plate violates the freedom of expression and private opinions. Those against the plates claim that, to have the Government favor the Confederate Plate as a license plate idea, discriminates against certain parties, and is generally considered offensive to the public eye, as it is constitutes as government speech.

First Bill Signed by Youth Governor

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By Eden Rose

During morning session the bill titled, “Reforming the Delaware Needle Swap Program” was signed by Felicia Flores making it the first signed bill by the youth governor this conference. Author Gabriel Wilson from Western Family Y says “It feels good to have his bill signed first.” In his trademark tone, he says this accomplishment “feels like a given, I mean, I am the greatest.” He also explains that his inspiration for making such an interesting bill is to keep people safe and maintain the public’s safety.  He says, “I’m friends with a lot of the homeless addicts in my area, and it broke my heart learning that they don’t have consistent access to clean needles”. Gabe’s choice to make legislation that represents people in the most danger in our society is commendable and inspiring. This bill is truly deserving of the title “first”.

Sexual Harassment/Assault Claims Act

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By Chariti McElveen,

Many impressive bill topics have been presented on the 50th year of Youth in Government. Although there is so much amazing legislation,there are certain bills that have truly been able to shine through! These ‘one of a kind’ bills demonstrate the importance and necessity of benefits for many. One bill that fits this criteria perfectly and has resonated with many at legislative hall is titled ‘An Act to End Forced Arbitration of Sexual Harassment or Assault Claims,’ by Leia Clendaniel and Nathaniel Catts. Just as the title has stated, this bill’s goal is to prohibit arbitration clauses in cases of harassment or assault in all Delaware contracts, including all past/future contracts in the state government and all of its employees. It is believed this particular bill has captivated many because of its high demand from employees around the country and relatability to American women and men alike. Clendaniel and Catts’ bill is guaranteed to pass because of its sensitivity to sexual harassment victims and the perfect timing of the bill proposal being directly in the wake of the ‘Time’s Up’ movement, where people are most passionate about this issue. So, when you happen to spot Leia Clendaniel and Nathaniel Catts present their bill in the Dickinson House, consider this article to help you decide whether you should vote ‘yay’ or ‘nay’.

The Unmarked Police Vehicle Act

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By Juliana Baer,

Chris Wood’s bill, the Unmarked Police Vehicle Act, presented in the Dickinson Senate this year, is meant to serve as a preventative measure against civilian vehicles masquerading as unmarked police vehicles. Chris’ bill proposes prohibiting the use of unmarked police vehicles at traffic stops, except if a warrant is obtained.

Chris describes the content of his bill as “banning the use of unmarked police vehicles for routine traffic stops. Anything that is not a traffic stop… unmarked police vehicles can be used for things like that, and can also be used for undercover operations. But in the interest of public safety, it would be putting an end to the use of unmarked police vehicles for routine traffic stops.” He further explains that this solution was inspired by several stories, one of which he plans to include in his proponency speech, about individuals who were assaulted by criminals who were posing as police officers.

The Unmarked Police Vehicle Act is especially interesting because bills of this topic are not commonly seen on the legislative docket. Chris’ bill raises a thought-provoking question on the safety of unrecognizable police vehicles, and seeks to alleviate any danger they may pose to Delaware’s citizens. This issue is not often addressed in Youth in Government and is expected to create an intriguing debate.

Gun Controversy

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By Chariti McElveen,

There are several bills at this year’s Youth in Government meeting that divided both the House and the Senate with their controversial proposals. Within all the bills, there was one that caught the attention of many, and caused the closest of friends to disagree. ‘An Act to Change Gun Laws’ was proposed by Robert Maina from the Odyssey Charter delegation, and is striving to prohibit all arms in the U.S. to help suppress gun violence. The delegates that formed the majority opinion for this bill seemed to disagree with the proposal because, although they agreed that gun control needed to be enforced for the sake of ending gun violence, prohibition of all firearms violates the second amendment of the U.S. Constitution (hence the controversy). On the other hand, delegates with the dissenting opinion agreed with this bill because they felt that the excessive amount of senseless massacres in the U.S. in the past decade is inexcusable and adding rules and regulations would lend a helping hand to end gun violence for good. The delegates also feel the second amendment is merely enabling this behavior. It is inferred that the author created this controversial bill because he is angry and saddened by the all of the gun tragedies that have occurred in our country thus far. It is also possible that the author of this bill has had to mourn a loved one due to gun violence and now craves change. Overall, when discussing this bill, there is no real right or wrong answer because legislation is still debating on gun control and the abolishment of the second amendment today. So, now that you have examined both sides of the gun law debate, who’s side are you on?

Mothers and Children Act

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By Ella Jones,

Of the dozens and dozens of bills that are created by the delegates there are a few that really stand out. Weather it be the way it’s written or purely the idea, some bills are more interesting than others. One of these bills is the “Mothers and Children Act,” by Kari White from the Charter School of Wilmington delegation. In the state of Delaware, there is no nursery for inmates in women’s correctional facilities to keep their newborn children. This bill’s purpose is to change that, and to add these nurseries to existing and new correctional facilities.These new nurseries will be able to accommodate at least 15 mothers and their children. What I found interesting was this bill’s topic itself. It’s something I don’t think I’d ever even think about, but it’s still so important, nevertheless. This comes to show the passions that the YIG delegates have for even the smallest of topics.

50 Years of Youth In Government

1160971.jpgBy Shannon Quinn,

Over the past 50 years, the Delaware Youth in Government program has worked to grow in numbers, and in content. That’s 50 years of new ideas, and new members bringing these ideas to life one bill at a time. Members who started years ago have grown into brand new men and women that can’t imagine their lives without this program. 50 years is long enough to change many lives and give a kick-start to students who had no direction and didn’t know where they were heading in life. Even first year students, like me, who are just starting to get a feel for this program, can already tell that this is more of a family than it is just students working together.  

People here judge you on the content of your character, and of course, they also judge your bill. I spoke to and 8th grade commoner who said that he felt completely safe and confident speaking up to the other members about his opinion, and that even though it’s nerve racking being here, he felt accepted by the others. In so many years, this program has grown from nothing, to over 200 student members doing real work at legislative hall. This family is 50 years in the making, and will hopefully continue to grow another 50 years.  

 

50th Annual Youth in Government Bannque

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By Jhilmil Pandit and Jess Ramsey

April 14th marked the 50th Delaware Youth in Government anniversary banquet at the Dover Downs. The night was full of celebration and tears (mostly from Lucy Zuo, president of the McKean Senate) for our 200 delegates while we recognized our youth leadership.

Editor in Chief, Sarah Jones gave recognition to her team: Court Press Director, Anudeep Chennuri; Video & Photography Director, Marley Fishburn; Newspaper and Blog Director, Eden Rose; and Social Media Director Nawel Hamroun. Next, Chief Justice Michael Chen commended his fellow associates: Ishan Kassat, Nadine Mon’Gare, Brandon Chain, and Swaytha Tally Ridgway. Chief of staff, Miles Evans called up the chief lobbyist, Elizabeth Litch; and the clerks of the houses, Rebecca Alexander; and Aidan Kennard. Mr. Evans also called up the secretaries of the senate, Shay Hogan and Hanna McKee. Lastly, our esteemed Madame Governor Felicia Flores celebrated the Speaker of the Commons, Ben Mongare, and the speaker of the houses, Jake Poppitti, and Reilly Patterson. She also recognized the president of the senate’s, Lucy Zuo and Richie Edwards, and of course, the chief of staff, Miles Evans.

After the dinner the room was filled with excitement, and more tears from Zuo, for the guest speakers. Attorney, Himaghna Nagandla expressed his excitement about the forum,“I felt that they had a lot of knowledge and experience that really helped us enhance our lives and that invigorated my interest in politics.” The students had the privilege to welcome, YiG alumn, Sarah McBride, and Attorney General, Matt Denn. McBride, a native Delawarean, shared her experiences as a young political activist for the LGBTQ+ community and an author of her book – Tomorrow Will be Different: Love, Loss and the Fight For Trans Equality – which was released last month. McBride graduated from the Cab Calloway School of the Arts and attended American University for college – where she was elected student body president. When Ms. McBride college presidential term came to an end, she came out as transgender in a social media post and made headlines. Her start in the political sphere came from her work for Matt Denn in 2004, Jack Markell in 2008, and even interned for Beau Biden at the White House in 2010. 

We were given the opportunity to ask McBride some questions about her YiG experience from when she was a teen. “I am excited that it’s been 50 years and that’s a testament to the program. It’s been 50 years worth of leaders and I think, right now, there has never been a more important time for us to train a new generation of leaders. That can help save our democracy and make sure of government is finally working for our people again.” She said. “I think my experience in YiG and my time was formative it taught me how to work a legislative process and pass a bill and that is a lesson I took to college and and back to the delaware legislature when we passed the gender identity non- discrimination bill.” Attorney General, Matt Denn explained his childhood stories from growing up in Newark, Delaware and his work for those who cannot afford legal help. He graduated from University of California-Berkeley, where he held elected office as student body president. He served as Insurance Commissioner in 2004, Lieutenant Governor in 2008, re-elected in 2012 and then elected as Attorney General in 2014.

“I think it is fantastic to see so many young people this interested in politics. Its is encouraging for the future of the state.” He exclaimed. “A lot of things in delaware don’t change unless the public demands and one of the great things about young people these days in particular are that they are so much more willing to speak out about issues and contact elected officials. so they are something that are really important in our community involving young people like youth violence and the opioid crisis those are things there hasn’t been rough action on and it is amazing to see young teen so interested and engaged” He adds.

It has been a wonderful weekend! Thanks to all those who participated and especially to Sam and all the advisors who made our 50th year of Youth in Government possible!