Youths representing 176 counties across the state will debate current legislation at the Utah State Capitol on April 20 during the 21st annual 4-H Mock Legislature. Approximately 80 high school-aged youths participate in the event annually, sponsored by Utah State University Cooperative Extension and hosted by Rep. Paul Ray of Davis County and the Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel. Through the day, guest speakers, including Ray, will teach the young people about lobbying, voting, negotiating as a representative and how a bill becomes a law. The students will also tour the renovated capitol. In addition, the 4-H members will pose as government officials to learn the process hands on. Three committees will be formed and comprised of general members as well as speakers of the house, rules committees and bill sponsors. From 1 to 3 p.m., the youths will present and debate 15 bills brought before the legislature this year that affect teenagers. Some of the bills to be debated include the protection of children riding in motor vehicles, vending machines in public schools, background checks for school sports officials and wireless telephone use restrictions for minors in vehicles. “If I would have had an opportunity like the 4-H Mock Legislature as a young kid, I probably would be a lot better citizen than I am today,” said John Paul Murphy, USU Extension 4-H youth development specialist and coordinator of the event. “I know these youths will be much better citizens from this experience. Some might even be representatives one day.” 4-H is a youth organization that promotes “learning by doing” to its 8 million members nationally. Utah participation in 2007 exceeded 85,000 young people, who completed over 115,000 activities and projects throughout the state. The 4-H program is administered by USU’s Cooperative Extension Service and seeks to assist youths in acquiring knowledge, building character and developing life skills.
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