Report Title:

YMCA Youth Legislature Program



Appropriates $20,000 to the DOE to defray the cost of interisland airfare and reduce the program service fee to participate in the YMCA's youth legislature program.




H.B. NO.









relating to the youth legislature program.



SECTION 1. Since its inception in 1949, teenagers in Hawaii have sought opportunities through the YMCA’s youth and government program to make a difference in their communities and to be part of a dynamic social and leadership development network. The YMCA recognized that teenagers were responsible, caring, and intelligent, and honestly desired to contribute to the evolution of society. The youth legislature, which is open to all Hawaii high school students, has become a great tool in helping to fulfill the desires of teens in Hawaii.

Through the youth legislature program, the YMCA brings together youth, caring adult volunteers, and community leaders in a dialogue that challenges the leadership skills, character, and motivation of young people who feel strongly the call of serving and fostering the development of a society that shares their values and dreams. In an environment of learning, discovery, and adventure, youth legislators build their personal skills and self-confidence while enjoying new friendships that most often last a lifetime.

Over the past half a century, significant legislation has been influenced by youth legislators, many of whom have gone on to give important service as legislators and officials at all levels of government. Other individuals in business and community service professions also recall fondly how their feelings for good government, ethical business, and compassionate service to humanity were first set afire during heated debates, intense research, and warm camaraderie shared in the "youth leg".

Through research, the proposing of model legislation, and debates, teenagers have an opportunity to share their views on important issues in Hawaii while gaining self confidence and enhancing their communication skills. Legislative committee work and chamber sessions allow participants to learn and improve skills in group work, leadership, compromise, and critical thinking. These program elements continue to be the reasons why teens participate in the youth legislature, and why YMCAs throughout Hawaii promote its use as an important activity for building character, integrity, and responsible citizenship in the State’s future leaders.

The youth legislature’s principal mission is to provide teens with the opportunity to experience the legislative process through actual participation. The program starts with training teens in parliamentary procedure, how to write and propose bills, public speaking, and issue identification, while providing desired social interaction. This training leads to the actual youth legislature session held each year during spring break.

In these model sessions, teen legislators serve as members of the house of representatives or the senate. During a pre-legislative period they campaign and elect a youth governor, along with officers of the youth house of representatives and youth senate. Through their participation, in and out of committee and chamber sessions, they guide their proposed bills to (hopeful) adoption as a piece of model legislation. Participants also experience an opening session at the State Capitol chamber, and the governor’s luncheon at Washington Place.

Traditionally, funding for direct program costs has come almost entirely from the program service fee that each participant is required to remit. The fee is approximately $325 per participant and covers lodging, meals, ground transportation, and training materials. Indirect costs that are currently absorbed by the YMCA include professional staff time, neighbor island meeting and travel costs for staff and volunteers, and other miscellaneous incidentals, including scholarships for participants who are not able to contribute financially. Fundraising is used to offset some of these costs, but it does not come close to covering the total amount necessary to offer this program.

Because the youth legislature state session is held on the island of Oahu, additional costs for transportation are assessed to neighbor island participants. Interisland airfare adds another $120 to a neighbor island participant's program service fee. The $325 fee plus $120 in interisland airfare has become an increasing problem for teenagers who don’t have the financial means necessary to participate in the youth legislature.

The YMCA would like to implement a travel equalization program to assist with the airfare costs borne by neighbor island participants in order to give these participants an equal opportunity to participate in the youth legislature program. Any additional funds provided by the legislature would be used to lower the cost of lodging, meals, ground transportation, and training materials in order to make the youth legislature program more affordable and accessible to Hawaii’s teenagers.

SECTION 2. There is appropriated out of the general revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of $20,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2001-2002, to defray the cost of interisland airfare and reduce the program service fee to participate in the YMCA's youth legislature program.

SECTION 3. The sum appropriated shall be expended by the department of education for the purposes of this Act.

SECTION 4. This Act shall take effect on July 1, 2001.