The Nevada Youth Legislature will have its first official meeting of the 2013-2015 biennium tomorrow. The Nevada Youth Legislature is comprised of 21 high school students appointed by State Senators to represent the youth of their districts. The Nevada Legislature has empowered its Youth Legislature to propose one actual bill or resolution at each session; we are one of only two states in the nation that empowers its youth leadership entity in this manner (Maine is the other). My office staffs the Nevada Youth Legislature on a volunteer basis as part of our focus on education and our advocacy of participatory democracy. (No public resources are expended on direct costs for this program; the program is funded through grants and through donations from individuals.) It is a labor of love for us – these are truly inspirational young people.
We flew our 15 Clark County members up to Northern Nevada last month. All 21 Youth Legislators stay at the same hotel and engage in an intensive two-day training seminar at the Legislative Building. This year, they were sworn in by Chief Justice Kristina Pickering, heard a presentation on Executive/Legislative branch relations from Attorney General Catherine Cortez-Masto, and held a session on the floor of the Nevada Senate presided over by Lt. Governor Brian Krolicki. Former Senator Valerie Wiener, who founded the program in 2007, continues to serve as a mentor and chairs the NYL Foundation Board of Directors.
We will hold monthly meetings over the next two years, with a variety of engaging guest speakers. Assemblymen David Bobzien and Pat Hickey and Senator Justin Jones will speak to the group this month on the topic of constituent relations. For the first year, these meetings will be focused on training, while in the second year, the meetings focus more on whittling down to, selecting, and shaping the legislation that will be proposed at the Legislative Session to come.
All of these young people are outstanding in their own way; they have emerged from a competitive application process, with as many as 12 applicants per district. Each has been appointed, either by the State Senator for the district in which they live or for the district in which they go to school.
This is a program that should make us all proud as Nevadans. If you would like to support this program, either monetarily, as a guest speaker, or by providing developmental opportunities for these outstanding young people, please contact my office anytime.