Each year, USU 4-H Extension hosts a mock legislative session for high school students. In a condensed version of what takes Utah lawmakers 45 days, high school students visit Utah’s capitol hill and go through the entire legislative process in one day.
They spend their morning debating bills in committee meetings. A rules committee of students then prioritizes the bills. In the afternoon all participants gather on the house floor to debate and vote on the bills.
“Our 4-H kids, they really come prepared and the debate was really good yesterday,” said Craig Dart, assistant director of Utah 4-H. “In fact, the debate got heated a number of times on various bills that we presented yesterday. And so that’s fun. It’s fun to see kids civically engaged and liking it.”
Dart said hands on learning is an important part of the experience.
“You can teach kids the legislative process in a classroom, and that’s fine,” Dart said. “But our motto in 4-H is learn by doing. So rather than just talking about the various processes of how an idea becomes a bill, we actually run the kids through the process.”
Rebecca Phelps is one of the students who participated in Tuesday’s mock legislature.
“I think this will encourage me to be more involved in my areas politics,” Phelps said, “because I have never really had much interest in any kind of politics or bills or anything political until I went to mock legislature and I was able to see some of the things that I could get involved in.”
The bills students consider during the mock legislature were bills that had been voted on during the 2018 session.
“My favorite part of the day was seeing what kind of bills are being passed right now,” Phelps said, “because we got to vote on actual bills that the House of Representatives had just previously voted on.”