HOW TO WRITE A BILL OR RESOLUTION FOR STUDENT CONGRESS In Student Congress, speakers debate a topic or an issue. These are commonly called "bills" or "resolutions" and become “main motions" for debate. If a bill or resolution is voted upon by a majority of the members and passes, it will eventually be put into effect exactly as it was written. It is, therefore, extremely important that a bill or resolution be written precisely to avoid any vagueness. There are several rules to follow. Choosing a topic/proposition: 1. The resolution or bill should contain only one central idea. Avoid putting two ideas into one topic. The following example shows a faulty motion: Be it resolved that the Welfare Department should increase the amount of monthly payments and the number of people eligible for food stamps. The motions is faulty because it includes two separate issues. 2. The bill or resolution must be debatable. There must be sufficient information available to research the topic. Check to see that the subject is in the Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature or that there are books and pamphlets on the issue. 3. The bill or resolution must call for a change in current policy or practice. There is little point in supporting something that already exists; debate is created when change is proposed. Wording the proposition: 1. The bill or resolution must be worded in the affirmative (positive). Avoid words like "not." Instead of writing "Be it resolved that the Welfare Department should not increase its payments." write "Be it resolved that the Welfare department increase its payments." Even if you oppose the increase, you will get to debate on the negative side of the affirmatively-worded proposition. 2. The wording of the bill or resolutions must be neutral. "Loaded" words and emotional language give one side an unfair advantage. Imagine trying to oppose a resolution that called for a ban on the inhumane, tortuous gas chamber as a form of capital punishment. 3. The bill or resolution should be phrased clearly and precisely. Structuring the bill or resolution 1. The bill or resolution is always typed, double-spaced, and each line is numbered. 2. Bills or resolutions should fit into the following topic areas; National, International, State/Local, Public Welfare, Economic, and Constitutional. 3. A bill contains the phrase "BE IT ENACTED BY STUDENT CONGRESS ASSEMBLED THAT:" and goes on to say exactly what steps the author has in mind. A bill has the force of law and may contain sections to clarify how the law would be implemented and/or enforced. SAMPLE BILL Topic Area 1 BE IT ENACTED BY STUDENT CONGRESS ASSEMBLED THAT: 2 Put the proposition here. This bill, when enacted, will have the force of law, 3 so it must be exact. 4 Section 1: Qualifications and details go here. 5 Section 2: More details about who, what, how much, under what 6 circumstances. 4. A resolution should state two or three possible reasons why the proposition should be considered and accepted. These are called "whereas clauses." The last "whereas clause" is followed by the words "THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED IN STUDENT CONGRESS ASSEMBLED THAT:" (The proposition then follows:) SAMPLE RESOLUTION: Topic Area 1 Whereas: (Reason #1), and 2 Whereas: (Reason #2), and 3 Whereas: (Reason #3), and 4 BE IT RESOLVED BY STUDENT CONGRESS ASSEMBLED THAT: 5 Put the proposition here. SAMPLE BILL AND RESOLUTION A BILL TO REQUIRE IDENTITY CARDS 1 National BE IT ENACTED BY THE STUDENT CONGRESS HERE ASSEMBLED THAT 2 Section 1. The United State government issue a National Identification Card to 3 all 4 U.S. citizens and legal resident aliens. 5 Section 2. Upon passage of this bill, eligible persons will be given six months to 6 obtain their identification card. 7 Section 3. The cost of obtaining these cards will be borne by the affected 8 individuals, but the cost should not exceed the fee of the average driver's 9 license. 10 Section 4. At the end of the six-month grace period, people will be required to 11 show their cards upon being employed, obtaining drivers' licenses, or upon the 12 demand of a peace officer. 13 Section 5. All employers will be required to ask for the card to hire any person, 14 and employers must retain copies to be made available to appropriate 15 government officials. 16 Section 6. Persons apprehended without a valid identification card will be sent 17 back to their country of origin. Section 7. Employers in violation of this legislation will be fined $5000 per violation. A RESOLUTION ON EQUAL ACCESS TO HIGHER EDUCATION State 1 Whereas, in the state of California, all public colleges and universities operate 2 under the policy of affirmative action in determining the entrance of students; 3 and 4 Whereas, minorities often gain entrance and white persons not of the minority 5 race, though more qualified, are denied entrance; and, 6 Whereas, acceptance of minorities to colleges and universities does not assure 7 their ability to successfully compete with the more qualified non-minorities; and, 8 Whereas, lesser qualified minority students often fail to meet the demands of higher education; therefore, 9 BE IT RESOLVED BY STUDENT CONGRESS ASSEMBLED THAT the 10 colleges and universities in California abandon the affirmative action policy and 11 judge entrance based solely on records of academic performance.