HONOLULU (KHNL) - The YMCA of Honolulu held its 58th annual Hawaii State Youth Legislature Program last week at the State Capitol. Here to tell us about the week-long session are Youth Governor, Tiana Maruyama and Senate President, Chelsea McKee.
ANGELA KEEN: This is kind of like having your own government, you're the governor and you're next in line. What is this whole thing like, what's it like to deal with bills and act as youth governor of the state?
TIANA MARUYAMA: It's very interesting, you wouldn't expect teens of our age to be thinking like we do and it's a break from school. You don't get to talk to your peers about these kinds of issues.
ANGELA KEEN: Chelsea, what kind of things has the Governor said to you about what you've done?
CHELSEA MCKEE: Just talking to us, thanking us for taking the leadership role on how teens can take away from spring break where most teens are out partying and doing things where teens can actually be wondering about these topics that adults usually think that we don't think of. But some students actually know the current events, they're up to date and they are wondering about these things and are concerned about what's gonna happen in the future.
ANGELA KEEN: It helps them realize how a bill actually becomes a law and what the process is and actually helps them take part of that process. What are some of the bills that you guys looked at and moved forward with your legislative session?
TIANA MARUYAMA: Our priority topics were low-income, housing, education, abortion and a lot about tobacco.
ANGELA KEEN: And is there anything that the Governor and Lieutenant Governor said to you about the bills that you passed, anything that really struck out in their minds?
CHELSEA MCKEE: They were very aware about the tobacco issue that we have amongst the teens and they both agree that it's something that needs to be dealt with; they also congratulated us on other issues. We did have a bill for same sex marriage and abortion.
ANGELA KEEN: And Tiana, the Governor called you Miss Governor, did she?
TIANA MARUYAMA: Yeah
ANGELA KEEN: How did that feel?
TIANA MARUYAMA: It was kind of strange but you just take it, I guess.
ANGELA KEEN: How did you get elected?
TIANA MARUYAMA: There's actually five candidates this year and your peers elect you into office.
ANGELA KEEN: Was there anything in particular that stands out in your mind about the learning process, anything that surprised you at all?
CHELSEA MCKEE: This is my 3rd year doing this so it actually more experience every year. You get to learn more about the legislative process and how things work, also bill passing and how you have to write up your own bill and how you have to do all that stuff, so I think it's interesting to know how the legislative process works.
ANGELA KEEN: And any advice you have to younger kids who might be interested in participating in this or getting them involved in participating in the upcoming year, what would you say?
TIANA MARUYAMA: If they want to join, I'll say sure just go to your local YMCA and sing yourself up.
ANGELA KEEN: And anyone of you thinking about politics at all?
CHELSEA MCKEE: Actually, I'm not thinking about politics, I think youth legislative have a better understanding of what's happening in current events and what's happening in the real world.
ANGELA KEEN: Has your mind changed about any particular issue at all going through this process?
TIANA MARUYAMA: Actually, my mind constantly changes about different issues depending on who you talk to, if they can convince you then they've got you hooked.
ANGELA KEEN: And do you have a new appreciation for state government and our law makers and why is that?