'Girls State' Bill

Hi everyone
This week I am attending a program at MSU in (East) Lansing called Girls State in which girls participate in creating their own mock government, up to the state level. I chose my place as an interest group and wrote a bill, of course, on FIRST. It’s been great sharing FIRST here with all these girls :slight_smile: - my roomate is sick of hearing about it!
I was hoping you all wouldn’t mind giving me some feedback, even if I probably won’t be able to edit it before it is proposed. I have been nominated for an award because of it, and perhaps you all will enjoy!
Also, please forgive any errors and the length.

(Sorry Brandon if this is in the wrong spot, but I am in a hurry… )

A Bill to Be Entitled

  An Act Relating to the F.I.R.S.T. (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition
    This bill will be enacted by the Girls State Congress.

Girls State is facing a downward spiral as educational funding has dropped and forty-five percent of the schools have received failing grades. In addition, post-secondary education rates have decreased dramatically due to rising costs. Juveniles are causing a stir, committing crimes with racial undertones. To this end, Girls State is fearful of falling behind technologically. To make matters worse, the economic situation of Girls State is unhealthy and funding for various programs must be cut.
According to the* FIRST Robotics Competition Evaluation: Executive Summary April 2005 (More than Robots: *An Evaluation of the FIRST Robotics Competition Participant and Institutional Impacts):

[font=Verdana]The FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) is a high school robotics program designed to build not only science and technology skills and interests, but also self-confidence, leadership, and life skills among high school-aged youth. The FIRST Robotics Competition challenges teams of students and their mentors to solve a common problem in a six-week timeframe using a standard “kit of parts” and a common set of rules. Teams build robots from the parts and enter them in a series of competitions that involve not only the operation of the robots, but also presentation of a variety of other associated team activities, including computer animations, activities to increase the appreciation of science and technology throughout the school and community, and involvement in community service activities. The goals of the program include an increased awareness and interest in science and technology, increased college going and potentially a focus on science and engineering careers, and the development of a set of attitudes and skills described by the program as “gracious professionalism” – the ability to work together within a team and to work cooperatively with those on other teams, including potential competitors. [/font]

Section 1: Establish one FRC team in each county

A. Each county is required to help in the establishment and organization of at least one FRC team per county in which high school students, company mentors, and teachers coexist.

B. Each county is to ensure the longevity of the FRC program and facilitate growth of the FLL (F.I.R.S.T. Lego League), JFLL (Junior F.I.R.S.T. Lego League), and/or FVC (F.I.R.S.T. Vex Competition) programs as desired by the population of the county.

Section 2: Funding for FRC teams

A. Each member of a FRC team is required to pay a fee, not to exceed two hundred dollars, to the team’s general fund. If a student is unable to meet this cost s/he may fundraise individually or petition the school board.

B. The county government is to provide one thousand dollars to the county’s FRC team upon the team’s inception. The county government is expected to continue in this practice with each new team.

C. Each FRC team is to acquire the remaining funding needed through team or individual fundraising and/or private sponsorship.

Section 3: Benefits of FRC teams, as supported by the findings of the *FIRST Robotics Competition Evaluation: Executive Summary April 2005 (More than Robots: **An Evaluation of the FIRST Robotics Competition Participant and Institutional Impacts*)

A. FRC encourages education, as nearly three-quarters of the participants feel an increased motivation to do well in school. In addition, participants will become dedicated to learning more once they see the hands-on effects of science and technology.

B. FRC encourages the majority (sixty-five percent) of its participants to help educate and enthuse younger students in the areas of science and technology through various F.I.R.S.T. programs, seminars, and tutoring.

C. FRC encourages its participants to continue onto post-secondary educational facilities. F.I.R.S.T. alumni have higher college rates (eight-nine percent attended college) than non-alumni. Alumni are also encouraged to attend post-secondary educational facilities because of F.I.R.S.T. related and/or based scholarships.

D. FRC, a program that appeals to various ethnicities and countries (fifty-five percent of participants are non-white and seven countries – Brazil, Canada, Ecuador, Israel, Mexico, the U.K., and U.S. – are involved), encourages teamwork and inter-team gracious professionalism. In addition, this bill addresses the issue of racism, as participants are required to work with people of different racial heritages to become a team. Participants will be working within a set of rules and will be exposed to other people. Ninety-two percent of participants learned how to interact with various peoples involved with and on a FRC team, ninety percent learned how to work within the confines of team organization, eight-eight percent learned from other team members, and seventy-three percent learned methods to decrease and/or terminate conflicts. Juvenile delinquency would also be affected because participants would be active in positive activities and have a goal in life.

E. FRC encourages participants and alumni to positively affect their community. Focused on problem solving, FRC teams can aid in the solving of their community’s problems, as Chantilly Robotics – Team 612 – did by creating a robotics baby walker for a deformed nineteen-month old child. Fifty-two percent of participants become more active in their community and the alumni are more than twice as likely to participate in community service.

F. FRC encourages union between potential future workers, companies, and the people that companies affect. Company mentors experience positive impacts upon their careers, places of work, and life because of FRC participation. FRC alumni are also more likely to work for their sponsor(s).

Section 4: All laws or parts of laws in conflict with this are hereby repealed.
Section 5: This act shall take effect by June 24, 2006, the public welfare requiring it.

B. The county government is to provide one thousand dollars to the county’s FRC team upon the team’s inception. The county government is expected to continue in this practice with each new team.
I don’t know how detailed you need to get in Girls State, but I know when I did Student Congress in FGCCFL/NFL (Florida Gulf Coast Catholic Forensics League and National Forensics League) in my freshman year, something this vague generally would cause problems and would get shot down because there’s no direction for where the county is supposed to derive such funds, or even a clause for what to do if the county cannot supply funds without compromising more important civic projects.

I left it intentionally vague so that the Senate (where I just placed it in the hands of a member) could appropriately decide.

In real law, I could see this being a massive headache. They cite changes pedantically, down to the word, if necessary, to avoid surprises being discovered later. (And possibly overturned in their entirety—after all, which is it, laws, or parts of laws?) But I doubt that you’ve got enough laws to make it difficult to check beforehand. Just don’t try writing that into the U.S. Code…

Also, not to rain on your parade—because I know you want to exercise the newfound governmental authority—but sometimes too many laws can be a bad thing. I’m not saying this law is bad, and I’m not saying that we should operate with a minimalistic set of laws (that is a view held by more than a few people), but I do think you need to consider whether or not this should be a law, or just a policy, to be handled by an appropriate department of the government. Remember that if you make it law, you’re on the hook for its consequences, good or bad. (If it’s policy, you’re on the hook too, but at least it’s easier to change if it goes badly.)

With respect to wording, section 3 effectively belongs in the preamble, since it has no effects. Typically (with the exception of proclamations and the like), you would state facts in the supporting paragraphs, then state the effects in the body. You might also want to include definitions, simply because you might be surprised what can happen when you introduce a new term into a law (e.g. “FRC team”), and don’t define it. All of a sudden, you’ll have a situation which you didn’t intend, and limited legal recourse to fix it. For example, a private “school” (i.e. shell corporation) starts an “FRC team” by contacting FIRST, and asking to register. (One might consider this to be the “inception”.) Before paying, they ask the County for the $1000. Does the County have to pay them, even if they don’t later compete, for lack of funds, or lack of interest, or whatever? Can they pocket the money and run? Can they do it again, and run again?

Think like a criminal, and write the law to foil them!

…ok so you took care of the starting of teams…and the beginning of the money…so all you need would be…

…a steady supply of fully trained technical mentors/engineers
…I would highly recommend a few non-technical mentors
…a lot more money for the teams (you’ll need 5K to even exist and I feel very comfortable projecting you will need at least 2K more.)
…supervision for the students / a way to handle liability
…a workspace for each team (heated and lit are definitely a plus)
…building material
…a great many more slots at regionals for this sudden burst of new teams
…some incentive for an average of at least one company per county to take a team on
…a way to get the news out to students about these teams and get them signed up
…and probably some big words. Laws have to have big words you know.

When you hear about a team that has financial problems you have to remember they already have a great deal. Most of the time…they have a complete team but just lack a fund-raising segment that is bringing in enough money.

I think it comes back to the “you can lead a horse to water but you can not make it drink” thing. I am not sure it is possible to legislate teams into existence. You can find money for them but when all is said and done you have to have a team ready to run with the opportunity you are giving them.

Personally? If I had to write this bill I would write it so that the government is asked to put a set amount of money aside each year. FIRST teams can then request a part of that grant. The teams in the area present an estimation of all they own and all they need and the government allots pieces of the money to the teams accordingly.

I like this, but there is missing information.

Preamble looks good

company mentors
Teachers (FRC teachers? certified teachers? anyone whom can teach something?)
Desired by the population of the county – County vote? someones best guess?

I would change *required to pay a fee * to can be required to pay a fee.
Also, whom sets the fee?

This is called an unfunded allocation since there is no mention of where the funds are coming from. This Might come from the general fund, but being unallocated politicians can fund it from whereever and remove other services to gain political leverage.

This effectively eliminates school board, state or town assistance.

This section does not change anything and should be included in the preamble as supporting documentation for passing the bill.

Very openended. Carries ramifications well beyond this bills intent.

All in all, it is a very good start. Nice job :slight_smile:

It seems pretty much standard procedure in many student Congress/Senate/similar organizations to write in Section 4 something similar to that, so debate is centered around the bill, and not random obscure laws that conflict with it, which could cause some frivolous debate, and detract needed debate time from the bill on the floor.

Thanks for all your comments everyone… I turned it into the Senate here and they really liked it minus a few points that I’ll shortly be tidying up, including removing description to an attachment.

Wowie anna~marie! Maybe Girls State in Wisconsin was just a bit more lax, but that has to be the most complete bill I’ve ever seen from a single person. I’m glad that you are bringing FIRST into discussion as well - you never know where well-composed bills from Boys and Girls State may end up or who will hear them!