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The new plenary session

By: Andrew Basinger and Anders Ljung

On February 15th, North Carolina YMCA Youth and Government implemented their first plenary session, where five legislation bills were selected to present. This wasn’t any ordinary debate or gathering; in fact, this was the first time the entire Legislative branch came together to vote on bills. It was a great opportunity for authors to present bills in a larger audience. The event consisted of the bill authors presenting their case, and then the rest of conference deciding the fate of their bill. During question periods and pro-con debate, delegates would go back and forth debating on their peer’s bills. During this session, delegates debated on a total of five bills deriving from the Senate and the House. “It was intriguing and thought-provoking,” Delegate Kyle Smith said.

The first bill to present, House Bill 26, proposed to legalize prostitution. Although this bill may come as a surprise to most, its’ reasoning was proven to be successful. Even though this was a bold move, it was heavily backed with both economic and health evidence. After the audience got their last say in the case, the branch voted the bill to pass, being the first successful bill of the session. “I thought the prostitution bill was good because either way it’s gonna happen so we might as well increase the safety for STDs and human trafficking,” Delegate Julia Pasin said.

The next bill of the plenary session, Senate Bill 70, proposed that a People’s Day be created. People’s day, a 12 hour period is open to the public to ask questions to their own government officials. The bill implies that there should be a live stream on some type of streaming service therefore the media can’t hide anything that they normally wouldn’t want to be asked. However, the legislation didn’t agree and the bill did not pass.  “It was unnecessary because we don’t have to associate everything with the government,” Delegate Landrey Messick said.

The third bill to present, House Bill 29, proposed that parents should be encouraged to vaccinate their children by imposing a fine of 50,000 dollars. The mandatory vaccines consist of diphtheria, tetanus, poliomyelitis, varicella, and measles. However, the majority of delegates did not vote in favor of the bill.

Next, Senate Bill 54 proposed that charter schools in North Carolina have to meet specific racial equity requirements. As stated in the bill, schools are required to provide free or cost-reduced lunches along with free transportation similar to public schools. In a similar manner, House Bill 54 did not pass.

The last bill of the session was House Bill 32 which proposed that saliva samples of babies should be taken at birth and then stored in a DNA bank. The purpose of taking DNA swatches is to help with crime scenes. Whenever a crime is committed, the police can instantly trackback the crime to the perpetrator purely based on DNA. 

This new type of session was a success and kept delegates engaged and participated the whole time. “I love the special sessions. I think it’s a great way for people to come together and hear the best bills here,” Delegate Nia Smith said.