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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Two Marianna 12 Year Olds Now Have Legislative Experience

Boys spent one week working as legislative pages for Marti Coley and Brad Drake

By Sid Riley

Marti Coley and Brad Drake had some excellent Jackson County helpers last week during the legislative session currently taking place in the hallowed halls of Tallahassee. Hampton Jordan and Steve Spence, both twelve year old students at Marianna Middle School, were selected to serve one week as legislative pages working on the floor of the legislature to assist our local representatives during ongoing sessions. Hampton is the son of Kathryn and Scott Jordan of Marianna, and Steve is the son of Jennifer and Dr. Stephen Spence of Marianna.

The boys submitted applications for this honor approximately six months before the legislative session began. Coley and Drake choose their pages and arranged the schedule for which week they would serve. The boys actually were entered as State employees for the week, earning $106.00 for their services. (I am not sure if that equals the State minimum wage or not.)

In total there were approximately twenty five young students in the group of pages working the week Hampton and Steve were there. “Most of them were from the Miami area, and some were pretty cocky. They made fun of our ‘farm town’ accents,” Steve related. “We did meet some really nice guys while we were there, we both made special friends with the page from Naples,” Hampton stated.

When asked what impressed them the most, both boys said it was the massive size of the legislative chamber. Also the electronic button system at each legislator’s chair which is used to summon pages and to also vote ‘yea’ or ‘nay’ was pretty impressive. They toured the Capitol building and were amazed at the size of that structure. They visited the other organs of the State government, including the State Supreme Court, and the Senate. They also toured the Museum of Natural History which is located in the downtown Tallahassee area.

One day the pages held a mock legislative session while the legislature was out of session. Steve was made “Chairman” of the proceedings, a position equivalent to the Speaker of the House. A bill was proposed to go to a four day school week, while extending the four other days by one and a half hours. “This would save bus travel, electricity, gasoline, and provide other savings,” Jordan explained. However, the bill failed to pass.

While the boys were working on the floor of the legislature two important bills were passed. One was the “Health Care Bill” and the other was the “Prevention of Violence Against Homeless People Act”. The boys clearly understood the proceedings and what transpired.

Another of the things which amazed the boys was the number of people not listening to the speaker, but who were instead involved in other activities, carrying on conversations, or were up walking around the chamber. They estimated that only around 25% were actually in their chair and following what was going on.

At the conclusion of the interview with the TIMES, the boys were asked if they would like to eventually become a legislator. Both had other goals…Hampton wants to become an Orthodontist, Lawyer, or a NASCAR driver, and Steven wants to either become a Doctor or a Dentist. Whatever career path these two young men choose, it is a safe bet they will be successful.

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