Citizens’ Trip to Charleston Proves Fruitful

Today the legislative and executive branches made the long trip down to the state capital of Charleston. Along the way, the two buses carrying citizens experienced storms, torrential rains and foggy conditions, but these predicaments did not hinder all the good that happened today at the State Capitol. The Senate and House passed numerous bills, the Governor signed a smoking ban and our Governor Earl Ray Tomblin gave us a riveting speech on current West Virginian politics.

The day started with a demonstration of how roll calls work in the House and Senate. People were amazed when they pressed a green button and – voila – the name of the Delegate turned green on the screen in the front of the chamber. Others were fascinated by how the bills would be listed electronically so everyone could see them. This fascination with the technology in both chambers initiated great interest in the political process of West Virginian state politics.

After the House and Senate went to their respective chambers, they each went to business,  passing bills written by fellow citizens. It was a little difficult at first with the Senate – mainly because they were not as familiar with the parliamentary procedure as they should have been. But the twenty Boys State Senators learned quickly, and by the end of the day, they were using the correct terminology for Senate procedures. After about an hour, the Senate had moved to approve or reject over 10 bills, with the issues ranging from mandating a living wage to combating teen pregnancy. Overall, the Senate had a successful and pleasurable day at the Senate Chamber.

Probably the most important success of the day would be the passage of a tobacco bam. This ban originated in the House, was passed by the Senate with an amendment to allow private businesses to allow tobacco inside their premises, and subsequently passed in the House again with the approved amendment. With the amendment, the bill garnered support from the Finch administration, and by the end of the citizens’ time at the Capitol, Governor Eric Finch had signed the tobacco ban.

Concluding today’s field trip was the speech of special guest Earl Ray Tomblin. A graceful leader, he walked down the House floor and greeted Boys State Governor Finch. After the encounter, Tomblin began to speak on his accomplishments – and how Boys State helped him with those accomplishments. It was an enlightening speech, and it really showed the citizens how Boys State can help them later on in life. He then allowed the citizens to ask him questions. The main question he focused on was education reform, on which he greatly elaborated. One of the points that struck a chord with the audience was the idea of mandating a subsidized ACT be taken at the end of the eleventh grade. This would greatly benefit the students of West Virginia: this is an extra chance to take the ACT for honors students, and it might be the only opportunity for the students who receive free or reduced lunches. Overall, the Earl Ray Tomblin’s speech was very successful and informative.

Most Boys State citizens who went on this trip would say that this is probably the best day yet for them. Everyone has learned tons about the legislative process that he could not learn simply in the Jackson Lodge basement. These young men have come back to Jackson’s Mill knowing far more about how West Virginia is governed. This is a great benefit for the State of West Virginia, and for that, we should be forever grateful to the people who have developed such an awesome camp as Boys State.