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MIG Journal: Friday Recap

Delegates cast votes during Friday's committee action

By Tamas DiLorenzo

On Friday, delegates from thirteen colleges made their way to the Capitol to debate legislation. House and Senate committees began at 9 AM, and debate around the bills, including bills written by delegates, Original Legislation, colloquially known as “OL’s”. Debate proceeded for less than an hour and a half before a fire alarm was triggered and MIG evacuated the Capitol Building.

Across three House committees and two Senate committees, debate continued until lunch, which gave students ample time to eat and hold unofficial party caucuses. After returning to committee, the fire alarm was triggered once again, which security at the Capitol instructed Advisors and Executive Board members to disregard, citing ongoing maintenance as the cause of the errant alarm. Committee continued uninterrupted until the delegates adjourned for dinner at 4 PM.

After another round of party caucuses delegates were permitted to debate within the House Chambers, which many of the first-year delegates had never seen before. Previously in 2022 MIG was held entirely within the Wyndham hotel. Prior in 2021 the simulation was held virtually, and in 2020 the simulation took place in the Old State Capitol. The Old State Capitol is under renovation and was not available for MIG to return to this year. In 2023, the simulation is being held in both the Wyndham hotel and the State Capitol Building, with Moot Court in particular taking place exclusively in the Wyndham.

Delegates debated bills in the Senate Chambers and House Chambers, and those in the House Chambers had an added challenge–Robust gooseneck microphone speaking systems and voting systems present at each desk. Throughout the night, delegates learned how to speak and vote using these systems in preparation for Saturday and Sunday, where they will debate exclusively within these rooms.

Senate votes to make community college free for many

By Emma Bonds

SBOL0005 is an original piece of legislation written by Sara Jasim of Lincoln Land Community College. This bill proposes to amend the Higher Education Student Assistance Act of Illinois, and would offer free community college to any student who maintains a GPA of 2.0 or higher. Jasim has conducted extensive research on this bill and was inspired by the Tennessee Republicans' Code of Education, which passed similar legislation in 2014.

Representative Jasim is very passionate about this bill, stating that education should be accessible to anyone who wants it. Democratic Representative Marquis Parks moved to amend the bill on page 4, section 9, line 2, changing the credit hours required for free tuition from 30 to 24. Parks argued that many students work full-time jobs and requiring them to have 15 credit hours per semester to qualify is unfair when colleges consider 12 hours per semester as full-time. Parks' amendment was voted on and passed.

However, there are still hurdles to be overcome as Republicans also motioned to amend the bill. They want to raise the GPA requirement to 2.5, arguing that a 2.0 GPA is too low if free education is to be provided. Democratic Representative Ross, who is a returning adult student, argued that it can be challenging for some students, especially those who have been away from school for a while, to reach a 2.5 GPA. The Republican amended version was voted on but did not pass.

Sara Jasim, who wrote the bill, proposes that funding for this bill come from lottery sales and cannabis taxes. After the amendments, SBOL 0005 was voted on and passed in its amended state, requiring students to be enrolled in at least 12 credit hours per semester and 24 credit hours per year to qualify for free tuition.

Senate achieves many milestones through bipartisan voting

By Mariano Ballines

Senator Prince Washington debates legislation on Friday at the statehouse

In the Senate on Friday, students worked together to solve problems Illinois residents are facing today, marking a truly groundbreaking degree of bipartisan cooperation. All of these bills were voted on almost or fully unanimously.

SBOL0003–Also known as The Argo Community High School Self Awareness and mutual student protection act–aims to address the issue of bullying in schools throughout the State of Illinois by making it illegal. This bill underscores the commitment of our Senators to ensuring that every student feels safe while attending school.

The Democrats argue that schools across the state have failed to address the rampant bullying taking place in their hallways. Senator Garcia (D) emphasized the importance of protecting children and ensuring that they can attend school without fear of being victimized by bullies. "Our kids go to school to get educated, not to be slaughtered by bullies," said Garcia.

With this bill, our Senators are sending a strong message that bullying will not be tolerated in Illinois schools. By creating a legal framework to address the issue, the hope is that schools across the state will take this issue seriously and take steps to prevent bullying and protect the safety and well-being of all their students.

The bill was passed almost unanimously. SBOL0003 was written by Senator Prince Washington (D), University of Illinois Springfield.

SB2013 is a straightforward motion that would permit the Secretary of State to issue vanity or personalized registration plates for electric vehicles. Senator Edwards (R), University of Illinois Springfield, emphasized the simplicity of the bill, stating "This bill is very simple."

Both sides appreciated the bipartisanship that took place during the voting process, and the motion was passed unanimously. With the passage of this bill, owners of electric vehicles in Illinois will be able to personalize their license plates and show their support for this important and growing industry. This small change has the potential to encourage the adoption of electric vehicles and contribute to the fight against climate change.

Later in the day, the Senate voted on SB3818, a bill that would prohibit the marriage of anyone under the age of 18 in the State of Illinois. This bill received unanimous support from both sides of the aisle, as there was no opposition to the proposed legislation.

During their statements, the Democrats made a compelling argument for why this motion is crucial to protecting the rights and well-being of young girls. They emphasized how early marriage can rob young girls of their childhood, pushing them into early pregnancies and exposing them to domestic violence. The Democrats also raised awareness of the alarming rate of suicides among young girls who are forced into marriage.

With the passage of this bill, Illinois will take a significant step in protecting the rights of young girls and preventing them from being forced into early marriages. This motion will ensure that young girls have the opportunity to grow up, receive an education, and pursue their dreams before being pressured into a lifelong commitment that they may not be ready for.

SBOL0008 was introduced by its author Senator Hughes (R), Lincoln Land Community College, who addressed the committee and answered questions regarding the bill. Senator Hughes highlighted several measures in the bill aimed at ensuring its safety and feasibility. One such measure is the prohibition of minors from using mushrooms. Additionally, the bill allows for recreational use of mushrooms but not for medical purposes, and imposes limits on the amount of mushrooms that can be purchased in a 30-day period.

While the Republicans were largely in favor of the motion, the Democrats initially expressed concerns about the potential side effects of the bill. They argued that mushrooms can have adverse effects on people and raised concerns about its impact on mental health. In contrast, Republicans such as Senator Nelken (R), Northeastern Illinois University, praised mushrooms as "...a gift from God…" and Senator Harris-Patel (R), Lincoln Land Community College, pointed out how mushrooms helped her recover from PTSD, highlighting the potential benefits of the bill.

To win over some Democratic support, Minority Leader Lochard stated that "every medication has side effects, even the ones approved by the FDA," suggesting that the potential benefits of the bill outweigh the risks. While the Democrats were initially hesitant, the bill ultimately passed with bipartisan support.

SBOL0008 was written by Senator Joshua Hughes, (R), Lincoln Land Community College.

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