The legislative branch is led by speakers and presidents who preside over the process. But who are the men and women behind the podium? They are outspoken, lively, and dedicated people. In Upper Legislature, the Speaker of the Sanford House is Nick McGrath, and Foster Johnson works as the President of the Knutson Senate.
Nick is a very energetic person, who speaks and acts with passion and drive. On a scale of one to ten on the success of Model Assembly, he answered an eleven. “I got to meet Speaker [Kurt] Daudt, and I fan-girled hard,” McGrath shared, smiling ear to ear. Nick went on to describe his legislature’s body, the Sanford House. Their goal is to help all delegates to feel welcome to share their opinion, and Nick specifically asks if people who haven’t spoken wish to speak. The general atmosphere of the body is difficult to describe. All upper legislature is in the Secretary of State building this year, and because of that, Speaker McGrath says it’s harder to keep attention. To remedy this, he often gives recess to allow the representatives to refocus. McGrath is known to make corny jokes and funny gags to help keep energy up. Some notable instances are when he “whipped” into a gavel hit, or when asking for a vote said “Will the real in favor delegates please stand up.” McGrath recommends that those who wish to lead be organized and find something that drives and pushes you.
Foster Johnson has many similarities to Nick, but there are some key differences. Chiefly being that Johnson is more serious. He does still tries to keep the floor session light at times, throwing in a couple of joke bills to allow the delegates to have some fun. Johnson said he is working on not being too serious.
Johnson started out like many people do, in Leadership Corps, not sure what his future in Youth in Government held, but in his tenth grade year he was appointed as the Secretary of Ramsey Senate. After the next year in Upper Legislature, he was told by an adviser, “go have fun” and that he should run. He followed through on this advice, and he doesn’t regret it. His advice to those who want to move up in the legislature is to speak up, make sure you fill out appointed official forms, and get involved outside of model assembly, through MUN or State Steering Committee.
The Lower Legislature consists of Stassen Senate, Humphrey House, Ramsey Senate, and Sibley House. They rate this model assembly, out of ten, in a range from eight all the way to fifteen. This assembly has been a great one. The leaders of Lower Legislature respectively, are Brent Hauck, Spencer Will, Taylor Hvidsten, and Andy Thomas. With so many people, their different bodies vary as much as they do.
Brent Hauck shared that his assembly hasn’t gone as smooth has he hoped, but that’s good. People have been learning from mistakes and reacting properly. Overall, he says that the atmosphere is respectful, fun, relaxed, and the delegates are excited. Brent really tries to encourage people to speak up. One topic that has been addressed often in Stassen Senate is education. Brent thinks this is because it reflects how people view their school and wish to make change. His Youth in Government story, which find him where he is now,begins when he ran in ninth grade, encouraged by his friend. He cut it close, putting his name in the day before elections. The last minute decision has paid off. The advice he would give to delegates is to not take things to serious, and make sure you are learning and growing. Have fun and encourage others. Get things done, but make sure you relax.
Spencer Will is the speaker of Humphrey House, and he says that he has had some hiccups, but things are going well overall. Sometimes, he says, he forgets some procedure. He once forgot to give an author a closing statement on their bill, but he made up for it. He says its good to be able to laugh at his own mistakes. The feeling of Humphrey House is energetic at times, but can slow down. One joke bill helped speed up a lethargic period: the Humphrey House and Stassen Senate were to get married. Tragically, Spencer and Humphrey House were left at the altar. “I can’t believe that,” he comments, “I’m kinda salty about it.”
Spencer’s story is a long one. In seventh grade he attended MUN. In eighth grade, he ran for the position he holds now, but lost. The following summer he went to CONA, and his ninth grade ran again for Speaker of Humphrey, and won. His advice is to work hard, and if you fail, get back up.
Taylor Hvidsten, President of Ramsey Senate, rated her Model Assembly at fifteen. She says it is because of the very good and interesting debate. One bill she highlights in particular, banning haircuts, dying of hair, and shaving. This joke bill helped keep the mood light, but she says there have been good debates on quality bills. Education has been a big topic, but she says that everything has been covered. Her senate works hard and holds great spirit. Overall there is a “very comfortable” vibe to the space. She was in Ramsey Senate in past years, and was told to speak up more, and found her love there. It was empowering for her, and is what lead her to run, and win. Her advice to delegates is, “go for it.” It’s a great experience, and a good way to get “your foot in the water.”
Last, but certainly not least, is Andy Thomas, Speaker of the Sibley House. He rates Model Assembly an eleven out of ten. What he likes about being speaker is the control he gets. He thinks overall he has helped run his house. But his delegates have been holding a high level of debate and a low level of talking. Some bills to note are one giving mental health screenings to students twice in a school year; and another to not allow people on the no-fly list to obtain guns. “Go for it.” is his advice. He did and got it, and did not find it very nerve racking.
Overall, the leaders of legislature are very different, but all very inspiring people. Their advice would help anyone, not just those in legislature. One thing they all have in common is that someone got them to run for office, or participate in Youth in Government. Someone said “go for it.” So I will be that person for you.
Go for it.
Written by Clayton Johnson, edited by Tori Miller, Digital Media