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Legislative Youth Advisory Council
Grade Level: 9-16
The purpose of the Legislative Youth Advisory Council (LYAC) is to advise the Legislature, legislative leadership and legislative committees on issues related to youth. The LYAC is comprised of 18 youth members and four legislative members. The LYAC is authorized to meet up to six times each year, including at least two public hearings. It may also conduct periodic seminars on leadership, government and the Legislature. The LYAC has served the interest of Maine youth before the Legislature since 2002 and has focused on education and employment issues for Maine youth, concerns related to Maine youth in foster care, issues related to alcohol and substance abuse by youth, and factors that impact minority youth who reside across the state. The LYAC has been instrumental in the enactment of important legislation to address these issues and other concerns.
The LYAC was the first youth council in the nation to have both an advisory relationship with legislators and the statutory authority to submit legislation. LYAC is required to report annually to the Legislature and may submit legislation to implement its recommendations.
In 2002, the Muskie School of Public Service at the University of Southern Maine undertook an effort to better understand the LYAC in a national context and to find out what other states had done with respect to establishing similar youth advisory councils or commissions. In conducting that review, the Muskie School found that many national “youth civic engagement” experts and policy makers are very interested in Maine’s commitment to its young people and in the model of the LYAC.
LYACis also under review as part of a national study conducted by the Forum for Youth Investment (FYI) on the work of youth councils, organized by Shanetta Martin, Senior Program Associate with FYI
LYAC was created in Maine statutes by an Act of the Legislature, which (currently) requires funding and staffing assistance provided by the Legislative Council. Under a cooperative agreement with the Muskie School of Public Service, the Legislature provided contracted staffing assistance through the Muskie School during the 2004-2005 biennium. At the same time, activities of the LYAC were supported through a grant received by the Maine Department of Education to explore the civic mission of schools with the Citizenship Education Task Force.
The Legislative Council has authority to provide staffing assistance to the LYAC. It also provides per diem and travel expenses for LYAC members, as well as funds to support other LYAC duties and responsibilities (e.g., annual report and policy seminars).
One of the wonderful things about Maine is its unique approach to encouraging civic involvement. Recognizing the importance of promoting youth involvement in the legislative process, Maine was the first state in the nation to create and implement a Legislative Youth Advisory Council. The LYAC has served the interest of the youth of this State before the Legislature for the past four years. The LYAC members are proud to have been instrumental in passing several pieces of important legislation, including a bill to provide better educational opportunities for foster children. Legislative support of the LYAC sends an important message to youth in Maine – a message that their input is important, and that they have a voice in the legislative process. This positive message will continue to encourage youth to take an early interest in government at all levels and will lead to active, civic involvement in the future.
Phillip D. McCarthy, Ed.D., Legislative Analyst
Alison L. Ames, Legislative Researcher
Maine State Legislature
Office of Policy & Legal Analysis
13 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333
Jennifer Thompson, LYAC Youth Chair
Senator Elizabeth Mitchell, LYAC Legislative Chair
Maine Relay Services: 1-800-437-1220
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