Understanding how the United States Government operates can be challenging for many Americans, even adults, and the process of how a bill becomes law is even more complex.

Understanding how the United States Government operates can be challenging for many Americans, even adults, and the process of how a bill becomes law is even more complex.  
When Neosho High School government and history instructor Conon Gillis sought a way to teach his students about the process, he came up with a unique idea.
“I tried to figure out something relevant regarding how a bill becomes a law,” Gillis said.  
He conceived an idea for a project that would mimic the United States government legislative process and put it into action. Gillis divided his four classes of junior and senior government students into two dimensions, Dimension A and Dimension B. Each represented a mock nation and each dimension elected a student to serve as president.  The remaining students became Congress.  Gillis’ first and second hour classes became the Senate while third and fourth period students became the House of Representatives.  Each group elected accordingly a Speaker of The House or a President Pro Tempore.  Gillis, as classroom instructor, served as the Supreme Court.
    Over a six-week period, students proposed bills.  They debated the bills, altered them, compromised and voted on the bills which they created.  If a bill passed one chamber during one class period, it passed to their partner chamber/hour. If the bill passes both chambers, it went to the president of that dimension.  The president, as in real life, could sign or veto the bill.  Vetoed laws had the option to be overturned.  Any bills making it into law were reviewed by their Supreme Court.
    Some of the bills students proposed and passed included changing the electoral college to be a proportionate vote for all states, keeping minimum wage at $7.25 an hour for the present but with the requirement Congress review the national minimum wage every four years, and that schools would be required to offer two optional, semester long driver’s education classes to high school student as an elective credit.
    Others included the creation of a national A+ scholarship program like the one now in place in Missouri, mandatory teaching of sex education to prevent possible pregnancies and the need for abortions, legalizing marijuana for those over the age of 21 in an amount no greater than one ounce, and making it against the law to leave any child age ten or younger unaccompanied without the supervision of someone at least sixteen years old.
    Gillis deemed the project successful. “I think they saw it as authentic and most of them really enjoyed it.”
    The hands-on experience gave students a better idea of how a bill becomes a law and, as Gillis said, “They got a better idea why government moves slowly.”
    Gillis composed a letter about the project and shared it with elected officials including President Trump, Senators McCaskill and Blunt, Governor Greitens, US representative Billy Long, Missouri Senator Ron Richard and Missouri Representative Bill Reiboldt.   So far, the sole official to respond has been Senator Richard who stated, “It sounds like a great project and
very interesting to see the laws they passed. It is so important for students to get involved early in the political process.”
    Gillis said, “The students in these classes will all be of voting age within the next one to two years.  I thought it would be nice for their elected officials to have an early look at what these voters are concerned about and were willing to work so hard on.”
    Gillis plans to do the project again since it educated students about the legislative process in a way they enjoyed.