Earlier this month, 40 seniors from across California gathered together at the state Capitol to learn legislation, meet senators and assemblymen, and put bills through the legislative process at the Sacramento Leadership Experience. Ellen Van Noy, Maxie Holmberg-Douglas, and Taylor Foster of Nevada Union FFA were three of many that applied for this prestigious conference. After a long wait, they were selected to attend the experience, step into the shoes of a senator, and have the opportunity to debate on the senate floor. Each “senator” was given a piece of legislation, otherwise known as a bill, to research, get to know well, and put the bill through the legislative process as far as they can get it. Holmberg-Douglas’ bill was SB05: State-Wide Water Use Reduction; Van Noy had SB06: Animal Confinement; and Foster had SB11: Antibiotic Use in Organic Production.
Day one of the four-day conference consisted of learning the legislative process and about government. On day two, the seniors were able to meet with actual District Senators. Holmberg-Douglas, Foster, and Van Noy had the opportunity to meet with District 4’s Jim Nielson. Nielson was an active member of the FFA, has received both the California and American Honorary Degree, and was one of the founding members of the original Agriculture Incentive Grant: a grant that helps FFA chapters across California travel to competitions and conferences. The rest of day two was solely dedicated to mastering the material in their own bills to be properly prepared for the week ahead. That night was the first reading of the bills. The “senators” began the committee process. They began in a committee consisting of five bills; and after debate, moved and voted to fail one of the bills. The other four bills moved onto the fiscal committee where again, one more bill was failed.
This process continues until there were eight bills remaining. Fortunately, all three of the NU girls’ bills made it to this stage. After the final round, four bills were selected to be debated on the senate floor the following day. SB05 was one of the four selected! The final day of Sacramento Leadership Experience was dedicated to learning about each of the bills and preparing debates. At 1 p.m., the 40 senators walked over to the State Capitol, entered the senate chambers, and began the heated debate on all four bills. The bills were related to mountain lion depredation permits, water, urban zoning, and an agriculture funding council. Three out of the four bills were passed.
The three of us would like to thank all of the supporters who have helped us reach this conference. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and we feel fortunate to have been able to attend this experience. We have learned the ins and outs of the legislative process and have talked to senators and legislators from across the state. Nevada Union FFA returned to the capitol March 19 to attend Ag. Day.
Taylor Foster is a student at Nevada Union High School.