Bloomington – For the second year, State Senator Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) kicked off his “Youth Advisory Council” by inviting students from across the 53rd District to join him in Bloomington-Normal to propose new laws to improve their state.
“Adults often complain that our younger generation isn’t engaged in what’s happening in their state government,” said Senator Barickman. “This is a way to bring them into the process and let them know that they have a voice and can make a difference on issues important to them.”
More than a dozen schools from throughout the 53rd District were represented at the event on November 20th at the Illinois State University Alumni Center. Students were divided into several groups and tasked with proposing new legislation to tackle an issue important to them.
“There’s actually a very healthy discussion between people of different views,” said Normal West High School Senior Shea Grehan, “And views haven’t gotten in the way of discussing and proposing issues.”
The proposed bills ranged from reforming state assessment tests to legalizing assisted suicide. All the groups then voted on the various ideas in a runoff to pick one proposal to move forward with. The students eventually selected a plan to change college entrance exams. The students will come to the State Capitol in Springfield during the regular spring legislative session for further action on their plan.
“Hoping to gain more knowledge of politics itself and kind of how I can influence things and have my voice heard,” said Dwight Township High School Sophomore Faith Rowland. “Though I am only 15 and I can’t vote yet, I still want my voice to be heard.”
Students at the event also learned more about the legislative process through discussions with Senator Barickman and State Representative Dan Brady (R-Bloomington), and also heard a presentation from Central Illinois businessman Habeeb Habeeb.
“Not that many students know about their state or local government,” said Normal Community High School Junior Aishwarya Shekara. “I think this gives us more insight into our state government, and what the Senator is doing and what we can do to help our own people.”
The spring session of the Youth Advisory Council is tentatively scheduled for April 13th in Springfield.