On January 25th, Burbank’s City Hall wasn’t filled with the usual city leaders. Local high school students took charge of the chambers, donning dress pants and blazers, for “Changing the World,” a Bill Night presented by the Burbank YMCA’s Youth & Government program.
The Y&G program helps students to act as legislators where they learn policy processes, become leaders, and find their voice through this hands-on civics education program. After a two-year hiatus, the program is back, and the students have been working hard to write mock bills that they presented and debated on during the night.
The delegation is part of their preparation for a three-day trip to Sacramento, where they will take over the legislative chambers, visit the governor’s office, and tour the State Supreme Court. Delegates begin thinking of bill ideas at the beginning of the school year, and the Bill Hearing Night is a great way to show parents and members of the community what the program entails.
Delegation Presidents Kai Singh and Ani Nazarian, welcomed guests to the City Hall chambers and explained the structure of how each Bill will be presented. This included a Bill Sponsor, Legislative Analyst, Pro Lobbyist, and Con Lobbyist, followed by rebuttals and Bill Sponsor summation. Singh acted as the presiding speaker, while Nazarian acted as clerk, maintaining the parliamentary procedure.
Mary Cutone, Burbank YMCA CEO, also welcomed guests and thanked Mayor Konstantine Anthony and Councilmember Nikki Perez for being at there and supporting the kids.
The first Bill was presented by Sponsor, King Cooper as an act to add to Section 66030 of the Education Code, relating to Higher Education Finances in order to lower the cost of course-based college textbooks for families who meet the FAFSA financial aid criteria. Students took to the podium to lobby for the fiscal impact as well as the pros and cons of each bill, and at the end, attendees were asked to stand to vote in favor or against the bill.
The second Bill presented by Sponsor, Hannah Mendoza, was an act to add section 13902 of the insurance code relating to mental health accessibility, where insurance companies would be required to keep copays for psychotherapy between 0 and 10 dollars and additionally would have to pay at least minimum compensation for their services.
The third and final Bill of the night was presented by Sponsor, Arno Dionysian, as an act to add Chapter 6 of the Education Code relating to California students’ individual liberties. Each student held up large name cards when they wanted to speak and addressed the chambers with passion and confidence. The bill is judged on merit, preparation, and presentation.
The Bill Presentation Night gave the Burbank YMCA Youth & Government student delegates a realistic experience while providing recognition for the hard work they have been putting in this school year.