Drafting a Bill or Resolution

Before Student Congress even begins it is up to each school to have someone draft a bill or resolution for the tournament. Good bills and resolutions do not happen miraculously. They are well thought-out pieces of legislation that approach current problems with innovative solutions. When drafting the document it is important to pick a good topic, provide a logical solution, and state the case for an intended timeline.

Before addressing the format it is important to note the difference between a bill and a resolution. A resolution is a document that uses statements beginning with the word “whereas,” and a resolution discusses a problem that must be addressed. It is looser than a bill in that it does not state nearly as many specifics. On the other hand, a bill not only recognizes a problem but states clear objectives as well as a tangible timeline. A resolution will be much easier to write because it lacks the amount of detail found in a bill. Therefore, this essay will detail the needed facets of a bill and how a strong piece of legislation is written (if a person can draft a quality bill they should be able to apply that knowledge to create a fantastic resolution).

Prior to anything being written, a solid topic is mandatory. This seems to be one of the biggest roadblocks for competitors. Such bill topics as “what food should be allowed in school vending machines” to “allowing recess time for students all the way through high school” are mediocre. The bill should be about a major social or political issue that is currently a problem within hometown America. Choose something that relates to energy, abortion, worker’s rights, healthcare, etc. Pick something that is a pressing issue, and do not be afraid to be controversial. Controversy stimulates the most debate. Also, make sure the topic is specific. Only one page is available to create legislation, so be concise with topic selection and description.

After choosing a topic writing becomes crucial. Like any piece of journalism, there has to be a logical progression. The first part of a bill needs to state the problem that exists; verify this with facts. For example, let us say the topic is the legalization of medicinal marijuana. The first question to answer is “Why is this needed?” Take this time to make an audience aware of a current problem, and let them know why this bill has the proper solution. In order to state a convincing argument, the bill must prove that this will be a cheap and effective answer to the current societal concern. Support this with statistics. The bill should definitely estimate the cost to address possible critics who are concerned about whether or not the cost is worth it (explain how the benefits outweigh the costs AND how the solution is not as expensive as thought). Lastly, be sure to state what the consequences have been currently without this proposed idea and state exactly what change will come about over time.

Once a topic has been picked and addressed properly, the last part of the bill is to set a timeline for the proposal to pass. This can vary quite substantially, but normally legislation is worded in the following way: “legislation will go into effect exactly six months upon passing.” One other common timeline is that where a specific date is stated and legislation will go into effect then. Whichever is chosen will not have much bearing on whether or not a bill is passed; usually regardless of whatever time is used. A timeline is required, but it ultimately is the development and idea of the bill that matters. Although, do choose a realistic time to avoid people using that as a reason why the bill is flawed.

Once a draft of the bill has been completed and entered for the tournament, the work is only half complete. At the tournament an authorship speech must be delivered as to why this bill is important and worth passing. This is the time where new stats can be entered into the equation to strengthen the argument. Unlike most Congress speeches, speakers do not have the luxury of speaking the whole time and avoiding questions. At the end of authorship speeches there is a mandatory two minutes of questioning. This is why the wording of the bill leading up to the tournament is so critical. Bill creators cannot allow weak points because the opposition will pick flaws apart during questioning. In addition, the speech must be crafted in such a way that shows thought and reason.

In conclusion, this is a simple order of execution for submitting and speaking on a bill. How individuals actually go about it ultimately depends on the topic and the district. Every state has slightly different rules, but the same concept applies. When authoring a bill or resolution a speaker automatically wears a target. Therefore, do the proper homework and think through every thing written and said. But doing an effective job will be rewarded with a great score, setting up to make the board, and possibly winning the tournament.