4-H participates in state legislative process

Kristian Robb, Diff Torres, Beatriz Marta, and Cory Schuller

By Lisa Morton

The High Point Soil Conservation Service sponsored 4 young adults from the local 4-H to attend the 4-H Congress in Austin last week.  Kristian Robb, Diff Torres, Cory Schuller and Beatriz Marta qualified as senior members excelling in the local organization.  Qualifying is a difficult process requiring that selected members submit a well-written legislative bill and learn first-hand what is involved in the process of passing such a bill through the state government. Preparation for qualifying has involved participation in stock show competitions, attending leadership labs and even taking Government classes in high school.

Texs 4-H Congress is a four-day mock legislative experience for 4-H members in grades 9 to 12.  During this time, 4-H members assume the roles of senators, representatives, lobbyists, press corps, and special interest groups to gain a first-hand understanding of how the legislative process works.  Bills that are written and sponsored by 4-H members focus on issues concerning Texas and Texas youth.  These bills are assigned to the appropriate committee, debated in committee meetings, and then passed on for further debate on the floor of the House or Senate.  If a bill is successful in negotiation and the legislative debate in all three stages, it is delivered to the Governor of Texas 4-H Congress for his or her signature or veto.  Copies of all the bills that are signed into law during Texas 4-H Congress are provided to the Office of the Governor for review.

The members were assigned to specific committees addressing Education, Environment, Government, Finance, and Appropriations, Highway and Transportation, Judiciary, and Public Health and Welfare.  All bills submitted had to focused on issues affecting the state of Texas.  Diff Torres participated on a bill to eradicate Gerrymandering, which is the practice intended to establish a political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating district boundaries.  “We found it unfair the way these lines are drawn in Texas”, said Diff.  Kristian Robb worked on school nutrition titled, “Food for Thought”, an idea that addressed getting more delicious and nutritious meals in schools so kids can learn better, but the bill did not pass through the process.  “I think my bill didn’t pass because it was more a federal concern than state”, Kristian said.  Cory Schuller was assigned to work on an Education issue that addressed the time line to build a new school after a bond process, and Beatriz Marta’s assignment was under Public Health and Welfare and dealt with getting access to free health check-ups.

Janice Robb drove the members to Austin and was very impressed at the way the local group as well as other Texas 4-H members participated.  She watched a live stream of the event and was amazed at the passion with which the local group embraced their projects.  County Extension Agent, Lanie Koch said, “When members first hear about 4-H Congress they think well, whatever, and then after they go and experience it they say holy smokes, I want to go again”.  This is the second year of participation by our local 4-H and they are most grateful to The High Point Soil Conservation office for sponsoring the trip that made this experience possible.