Teen groups get a taste of legislative procedures
Home-schooled Kailua teen TJ Metcalf wants to see surf racks on buses and got a good idea of how to make it happen yesterday in a mock Legislative session.
Metcalf wrote a bill supporting the bus surf racks "so kids can go surfing without their parents taking them to the beach."
Another less practical bill the students wrote called for blonds to get store discounts as compensation for "for being teased," said the blond Metcalf.
As part of spring break conferences, two groups of teenagers got a feel for the dynamics of state government and how laws are made. The TeenPact leadership program, a home-school group, and the YMCA Youth Legislature, with participants from Oahu and outer islands, separately held mock legislatures and spoke with Gov. Linda Lingle and Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona on a range of issues last week.
All the students laughed when a girl from the front row said, "What makes Republicans better than Democrats?"
"Republicans help people who need extra help," Lingle answered earnestly. "The Democrats want people to be dependent on the government."
She used the metaphor of giving a man a fish versus teaching a man to fish as the difference between the political parties. "The Democrats want to spend all the money, instead of giving it back to the people," she said.
Lingle said "difficult decisions" as governor included her recent appointment of Glenn Kim to the Circuit Court. Kim's appointment was almost denied because of reports about his alleged hot temperament and verbal abuse of coworkers.
She has had to pick 14 judges so far, and said that picking judges is a tough decision because "I'm leaving (the judges) with the public."
The session ended with a note on freedom and liberty.
A Kaneohe boy asked if Americans have too much liberty, to which Lingle said that sometimes people have too much freedom, "but the alternative is not too good."
There is a line, though, Lingle said. Some religions call for "cutting off the heads of chickens and we may think that's kooky," she said, but it is still legal. On the other hand, "to people claiming that 'smoking marijuana is in my religion,' we have to say no," Lingle said.
The YMCA group, with about 60 participants, asked about five questions including queries about the governor's travels, how the legislators work together and Aiona's views on smoking. The group passed bills in the mock Legislature that were "very much aligned with our bills," Lingle said. They included DOE regulations, drug tests for teachers and Hawaiian homelands.
The home-schoolers were concerned with the broad concepts of liberty and freedom, while the YMCA group was more interested in the technical features of how a bill gets passed. "But they both learned a lot," Lingle said.