Bryant hosts Youth Advisory Council in Springfield

This week, State Senator Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) welcomed dozens of high school students from across the 58th Senate District to the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield to learn more about the state’s legislative process as part of her Youth Advisory Council (YAC) program.

“I want these students to be able to leave here understanding that they can have a real impact on our legislative process and the state as a whole,” said Sen. Bryant. “I was able to turn their idea from the fall into real legislation. While that particular bill hasn’t yet moved, I believe it has influenced the movement of a similar bill in the House known as Faith’s Law, so they definitely should take pride in that.”

Sen. Bryant’s YAC program allows local high school students to learn more about government through two meetings held each school year. During the fall meeting, students heard from local leaders and had the opportunity to propose ideas for new legislation. This year, students put forward a proposal meant to stop inappropriate relationships between teachers and students, regardless the age of the student. Sen. Bryant took their idea to help create her Senate Bill 2823.

“This was something that I never thought I would be really interested in until I went to the fall event and gained a lot more interest,” said Chester High School Student Marbry Wingerter. “Everything about this has been great. I feel like I have been heard and have a better understanding of what goes on in our state government.”

During this week’s meeting, students took on the various roles involved in the legislative process for a mock committee hearing in an actual Senate committee room at the Capitol Complex. The students served as lawmakers discussing and voting on the proposal, concerned citizens and lobbyists advocating for and against the issue, and reporters covering the hearing.

“It is important for young people to have an understanding of how government works because at some point, we will have to take over the cup whenever the older generation isn’t able to do it,” said Du Quoin High School Student Sam Vancil. “It’s better to be prepared for that now than to be thrown right in with no preparation.”

“This event has opened my eyes to the fact that the people who make laws are just regular people,” said Edwards County High School Student Owen Grimes. “I’m learning that this is something that I may be able to do someday myself.”

Sen. Bryant’s YAC program is open to high school students in the 58th Senate District each year. She encourages interested students to ask their teachers and/or principals about taking part in the future.

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