What is it?

You and your students are invited to take on the role of County Legislators. Students discuss, debate, and vote on an issue or issues of importance to their lives and to the county, while getting to visit our historic Legislative Chamber in White Plains. Typically, fifth graders participate in the program to complement the study of government which is part of their curriculum. (NOTEThe program can also be conducted in your school if a field trip is not possible.)

How does it work?
Students and teachers are asked to work together as a class to come to the session prepared with their selected issues and positions ahead of time. Materials will be provided in order to facilitate clarity on the specific issue and bill to be debated. The class will have the opportunity to select a Chair of the Board, a Clerk, Committee Chairs, and public speakers to speak on the bill in a mock public hearing before it is given final consideration. The group will have the opportunity to make recommendations and amend their bill as they see fit during the session. In addition, the class will receive information during the session about the history and role of the Legislature, and how a bill becomes a law.

How do we choose an issue?
We encourage classes to choose an issue that is meaningful to them from either a list of legislation that we provide, or of their own design. Your legislator's office will work with you to fashion the idea into a clear, debatable bill or resolution that can be discussed, amended, and voted upon during the session. Your class is free to pick a county issue that has been—or is currently—considered by our Board (including actual bills that were recently passed). Alternatively, you can pick an issue that, while beyond the strict mandate of the Board of Legislators, may be relevant and interesting to students’ lives (the Board often passes resolutions endorsing changes to state law). The preparation work is a great opportunity for students to build both research and communication skills.

Examples of issues that could be debated are:

  • Should the county require businesses to pay employees for sick days (bill passed October 2018)
  • Should the county ban gun shows on county property (bill passed February 2018)
  • Should the county ban polystyrene containers (bill passed June 2019)
  • Should schools allow cell phones (could be of interest to a student audience)
  • Should the school year be 12 months long (could be of interest to a student audience)

What are the logistics?
Mock Legislative sessions are offered throughout the school year on Wednesday through Friday mornings, beginning at 9:30 AM, with the exception of budget and reorganization season which extends from the end of October through mid-January. The sessions last about an hour and a half per class. Prior registration is required through your Legislator's office. Please include up to three date choices when requesting a session, as dates fill up very quickly. If you plan to visit the Board of Legislators for your session, please note that the school must provide for any transportation, food, and chaperone-related needs. Please note that one adult is required per every eight students for safety reasons.

How do I schedule a Mock Legislature?
To schedule a session, or for questions, please contact your legislator's office.