State legislator helps kids understand government

Posted Monday, Feb. 03, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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Texas Rep. Giovanni Capriglione’s constituents had a lot of suggestions for the first term Republican at a recent forum.

Like requests to vote for more recess and less homework.

The Southlake Republican representing District 98, which includes all of Keller, spoke Friday to about 60 second graders at Keller-Harvel Elementary School to talk with them about how state government works.

He explained the roles of the 150 state representatives and 31 senators to determine laws. Constituents bring forward an idea. If the legislator supports the idea, he or she may draw up a bill. The bill goes through committees and may get a lot of tweaks, if it survives. Then on the house or senate floor, it may be changed even further.

Capriglione asked students to suggest an idea for a law.

One boy said schools should be required to have vending machines. Capriglione said he could take that idea and form it into a bill. That bill might get radically altered in committee to say that the vending machines could only sell vegetables.

Capriglione told kids how Texas legislators cast votes. If they’re at their desks, they can press a button to say “yes,” “no” or “present but not voting.” If they are away from their desk talking with colleagues, they can raise one finger for “yes,” two fingers for “no” or three for present but not voting. The kids caught on fast to the finger raising voting system when Capriglione asked them to cast votes.

While many of the kids supported vending machines in schools, their vote changed when they found out they could get only vegetables. Capriglione used the example to demonstrate how a bill that you supported at first, perhaps even introduced, could be changed so much that you no longer favored it.

Keller-Harvel Principal Kristen Eriksen said she was glad that Capriglione used a suggestion from one of the students for a bill to help them understand the process.

“I learned that voting is sometimes very hard,” said Second-Grader Serenity Hughes

Classmate Ryder Ruiz said, “I learned that sometimes you could determine votes and turn them down.”

Capriglione said he felt a responsibility to help children learn about the governmental process.

“It’s important for them to understand how things are done, how decisions are made and how laws affect them,” he said.

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