Local girls learn legislative
Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 15, 2000
process at Girls State
By BETH LAKEY
Two local high school girls gave up a week of summer fun for the living lessons in politics by participating in Alabama Girls State this week.
Today, Whitney Locklar and Sara Newland will say "good-bye" to friends they made and pack up plenty of memories along with their clothes.
Locklar, who just finished her junior year at Charles Henderson High School, and Newland, who will be a senior at Pike Liberal Arts School, both said they have had a fun and educational week.
"I’ve really enjoyed it," Locklar said of her Girls State experience. "I’ve learned so much."
The newly-elected mayor of Camelliaville said the "wonderful experience" has taught her more about the political process than she ever expected to learn in a week’s time.
If anything, the week has given the high school senior more encouragement in expressing her opinions on different issues.
"It’s most definitely made me more vocal in my opinions," Locklar said.
She introduced voter identification legislation that failed because of an amendment tacked on by another delegate.
"Everyone said without the amendment it would have been fine," Locklar said with obvious disappointment.
Newland introduced a bill that would send nonviolent offenders to rehabilitation or educational programs.
"It really came from my heart," Newland said of the bill that had not been brought up for debate as of Thursday afternoon. "I really want to get it passed. I’m going to try."
She said her bill would
save the state a great deal of money.
Also, her plan was touched on by Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor who spoke to the delegates on Wednesday.
The legislation that passes will actually be presented to Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman by the Girls State governor.
Both young women have enjoyed new-found friendships they hope will last a lifetime, as well.
Although neither girl expects to enter the political arena, they discovered almost every field is touched by legislation.
Locklar, who wants to one day teach first grade, found education and proration to be one of the hot topics of Girls State.
As a matter of fact, the Girls State delegates found a solution to the education funding problem that couldn’t be solved during a 12-day special session earlier this year.
Locklar said, Thursday afternoon, delegates passed an increase in the state sales tax with the extra money going into a rainy day fund for education.
Other bills, such as one that would require schools be informed if a juvenile commits a crime, touched on the topic of education.
"Education has been one of the main issues," Locklar said of the week.
At this point and time, Newland wants to have a career in graphic design and found the campaigns interesting, although her run for the office of sheriff was unsuccessful.
Through her own campaign and those of others, Newland discovered "a lot of talent in girls my age."
For the second year, Troy State University has played host for the annual event that is a leadership and citizenship training program for young women sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary. Locklar and Newland were sponsored by Auxiliary Unit #70.
Both said they would "definitely" urge other girls to experience the once-in-a-lifetime chance of Girls State.
"It’s something I’ll never get to experience again," Newland said of the week that will wrap up today.