Decked out in ties and skirts, with freshly crafted bills in hand, fifty teens from across the state gathered at the Statehouse as members of the Capstone Legislature. As the gavel sounded, the Capstone “legislators” were summoned forward for the first reading and committee assignments of their bills. Raising issues from delisting wolves, to cooperative agreements with Alaska for oil drilling, the session promised to be controversial from the outset.
Dividing into committees, the new legislators traversed the Statehouse for briefings with state officials. Recognition during Senate and House floor sessions, interviews with lobbyists, and an introduction to the Joint Finance Appropriations Committee (JFAC) rounded out their mornings while the alumni students prepared for Capstone Supreme Court. Assisted by a team of attorneys, the students studied case law, crafted their arguments, and debated for or against parental rights before the honorable Capstone justices.
Working lunches involved passing, amending, and derailing bills. The range of issues raised was far-reaching including designating ten acres of Idaho wilderness for paintball recreation and establishing an Idaho Junior Militia that would require arming our youth at all times with Leathermen. And a bill to annually commemorate the historic Fiesta Bowl victories by dying the Boise River blue for a day sparked a lively debate involving stimulating tourism, increasing BSU enrollment, and environmental impact.
Regrouping for periodic briefings, our young legislators were oriented to upcoming session issues by Senate and House Leadership, and ethics in lobbying by Executive Director, Julie Lynde, Cornerstone’s respected voice at the Statehouse. Concluding the week were meetings with the Governor and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
Following the Capstone governor’s veto of bills, the final session of the Capstone Legislature convened. After attempting to override vetoed bills and a vigorous debate on the appropriations determined by the Capstone JFAC to fund or defund their bills, the session adjourned, with the legislators eagerly promising to return next year.