The Utah League of Cities and Towns held a mock legislative session for 500 youth who participated from across the state. Some of Park City’s Youth Council attended the event at the Capitol (yesterday) on Wednesday. Carolyn Murray has this:
The mock legislative session at the Utah State Capitol brought a distracted driving bill to the visiting students to debate. House Bill 13 is sponsored by Representative Carol Spackman Moss and addresses minors driving with hand held devices.
High School Senior, Alex Sletta is Mayor of the Park City Youth Council and attended the day at the Capitol.
“So, the mock legislation committee talked about a distracted driving bill which targeted people under 21 and their use of hand-held cell phones. So, we basically had a mock legislative committee where we had a board of people up front who proposed the bill. And we basically had a town hall meeting which were citizens who were actually other YCC members, who would approach them and voice their concerns or complaints based on the bill. And, we were able to see some of the pros and cons of what people thought of the bill.”
Senior, Olivia Downs is Secretary for the Youth Council and said the bill passed in the mock session but the true-life bill sponsor, Representative Carol Spackman Moss did not. “Yeah, so we did pass the bill, but they made an amendment so that it would apply to teens 18 and under and people 70 and older. Yeah, so it did pass in our legislature. People were saying it should be based upon years you’ve had your license instead of age, which I thought was an interesting point."
The Youth Council members are elected by their peers. There were five Park City students who attended the mock session. They also met with several lobbyists. Sletta and Downs talk about the programs they participated in.
“We also got to meet with three different lobby groups. One of which was the Refugee Justice League”
“There’s over 700 attorneys who work with certain refugees based on hate crimes and just basically anything they need help with. And, we talked a lot about refugees and the 62-million refugees, currently, right now. We also met with two special interest groups. One being a nicotine prevention and control group. And, the other was Sutherland Institute which is a research type of lobbyist and we talked about his position on certain legislative bills.”
Both students got involved with Youth Council three and a half years ago when they were freshmen. Since three, of the five-member council, are seniors, they will help recruit new candidates to run for next years’ youth council seats. They meet about once a month and include sitting in on the Park City Council open meetings.
“So, the Youth City Council is basically a mock version of the City Council. It allows teens to have more of a say into the government, to really understand what’s going on and how it will affect them.”
Sletta said this year, they’ve conducted student surveys that show many students want more affordable events and activities for teens. As Secretary, Downs’ focus is on communication.
“We have a lot of events in Park City, but teens sometimes don’t know what’s going on. So, we’ve also been working on a way to allow teens to figure out what’s happening in our community that’s already being offered.”
Sletta and Downs both want the Youth Council to continue strong into the future. Their terms will finish up in April and new candidates will start to campaign in August at the start of the school year.