Youth Voice becomes law in Minnesota [UPDATED]Published 4:23am Monday, June 3, 2013 Updated 6:25am Monday, June 3, 2013
For the first time in state history, Minnesota youth have an official voice in legislation that affects them directly, through passage of the Minnesota Youth Council Committee Bill May 22 — part of the education finance omnibus bill.
The Minnesota Youth Council draws 72 youth and adult representatives from all congressional districts statewide — including eight representatives who serve “at-large” — in a unique partnership to address issues of interest to young people.
The bill formalizes a relationship that has been underway since 2005, led by the Minnesota Alliance With Youth (the Alliance). Eighth- through 12th-grade council members provide guidance to the legislature, governor and Department of Education on issues affecting young people.
Already the council has developed and administered a statewide survey assessing top issues of concern to young people, made more than 65 visits to legislators to share information on the bill, and testified before both houses.
Of these efforts, council member Nick Plaza, a senior at Kennedy Secondary School in Fergus Falls, most enjoyed “connecting issues in my community to a statewide stage” by meeting with his legislators.
This year the council had the added support of Minneapolis-based youth intermediary Youthprise and the nonprofit youthrive, partners in building youth capacity to lead change in their communities.
Minnesota is one of fewer than a dozen states to formalize this relationship between policymakers and those too young to vote.