Remember that high school government class you took? Something about the government having branches and a bill moving into a House before sitting on the Senate floor or something?
While many of us who are one, 10 or 40 years out of high school may remember that cute guy or gal who sat in front of us more than what our government teacher said, it’s never too late to admit that our teacher really wasn’t trying to bore us to tears.
The 2014 session of the Wyoming Legislature begins Monday, and there’s no better time to get “back in session” ourselves. It’s time to not only care about what’s going on in Cheyenne over the next 20 days — but actually participate in it, too. Think of it as raising your hand in class.
To help us, two students from Tyson Emborg’s advanced placement government class at Sheridan High School have offered a few words of advice. Junior Anne Lynam and junior Jacob Jahiel are also headed to Washington, D.C., this spring for the “We the People” competition, so they know their stuff.
Lynam weighed in on how to start caring and start getting involved (and it doesn’t even involve a textbook).
“The first thing that really needs to be done is to look at your community and look at your state and understand what you don’t like and why you don’t like it,” Lynam said. “If you’re just saying, ‘I don’t like this and this and this because someone told me to,’ then you’re not really approaching the ideas. Then you need to find the candidate who is going to fix those problems the way you want them to be fixed.”
Want to find a local legislator? See the Public Notices page in The Sheridan Press for a handy list of local and state elected officials, complete with phone numbers. To find legislators online, visit legisweb.state.wy.us. There is a gold mine of information there including email addresses for legislators, which is the best way to contact them during the session, and a description of bills to be addressed.
Once we’ve found something we care about — keeping drunks off the road, hunting license fees or cheaper ways to heat your home are all issues on the docket this session — we need to talk to the people we elected to be our voice and try to find real solutions to real problems, Jahiel said.
It’s also important to not take our government for granted.
“When Benjamin Franklin came out of the Philadelphia Convention, somebody asked him, ‘What kind of government have you created for us?’ And he said, ‘A republic, if you can keep it.’ That’s kind of the idea that in order to keep your government — democracy provides a lot of rights, but it provides a lot of responsibility, as well — you have to be able to understand it in order to fully take advantage of the system and have a lasting effect on it,” Jahiel said.
Click the following link to hear the entire interview.
Interview with students