As the 2015 Utah Legislative session begins, youth councils from cities throughout the state led by Salt Lake County Commission on Youth members gathered on January 28th for an inside look at how controversial issues are debated and laws are made. They joined leaders from their own cities and towns, shook hands and learned more about those who represent them in state government. It’s a chance to learn, listen, and discuss some interesting and pertinent issues of our time.
Approximately 1,500 Utahns were in attendance. The day started at 7:30am, as youth shared breakfast and rubbed elbows with elected officials. They also participated in a mock house committee hearing on HB 6561: Provision to Increase Participation in Elections by Young Adults. This bill directly relates to students and proposes to change graduation requirements and contains an amendment to limit voter eligibility for persons born after 1998. Henry Rosas, a member of both the Kearns Youth Council and Salt Lake County Youth Government, testified questioning the costs of implementing the bill and proposed those funds would be better spent on secondary education opportunities for students. After the mock committee hearing youth met with their representatives and toured the Utah State Capitol.
“I didn’t think I would care about local government,” said Sarah Martin, a Salt Lake County Youth Government member. “I’m surprised at how interested I am in the subject.” Sarah’s favorite part of the day was spending time in the gallery of the Utah State House of Representatives. “It gave me more of a perspective of what it looks like when bills are being passed,” said Sarah. The youth that attended all agreed that they would like to return to the Utah State Capitol and observe the lawmakers in action.
For more information about the Salt Lake County Commission on Youth and Youth Government activities, and if your council is interested in participating, please call 385-468-4502 or visit www.slco.org/youth.