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Van Horn will attend camp on writing, passing bills

When Katie Van Horn starts pre-law at college in 2018, she will already have extensive, hands-on knowledge of the law thanks to the Youth In Government chapter at Eisenhower High. 

A member since her freshman year, Van Horn is attending the Conference on National Affairs (CONA) this summer, having qualified as a delegate during the YMCA Youth and Government State Conference in February. At the conference, she presided as an Oklahoma judge at the mock trials. Eisenhower High sent 36 students to the annual competition and nine were selected to attend the YMCA National Judicial Competition this summer to compete in mock trials and appellate competitions. Van Horn was selected to attend that competition last year.

The conference Van Horn is attending this summer is not a competition, rather it is a legislative model that teaches the delegates how to get a bill through a model legislature  from their own proposal for action, through discussions and debates and, hopefully, to being passed as a bill.

Before the conference, each delegate writes a proposal about a subject that they would like to see in a piece of legislation. 

"I'm proposing legislation about suicide education. ... Developing a curriculum for grades 7 to 12," Van Horn said. "We actually write our proposal before we get there, and then we submit it."

When they arrive at the conference, each delegate gets a proposal book containing all the proposals. There are multiple levels of committees, which gradually whittle down the number of proposals.

"I will be in a proposal committee that deals with mental health," she said. 

During the committee meeting, the author of a particular "proposal for action, which is the legislation before a proposal becomes a bill," gets to explain his or her proposal to the committee, she said. Committee members raise a placard indicating if they are pro or con to the proposal moving forward to the next committee. The floor can be opened for discussion about why they are pro or con. If the final answer is pro, then the proposal moves to the second committee along with the proposals selected from three other committees.

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