2019 — Culpeper, VA, VA/US
Legislative Debate (Student Congress) replicates the proceedings of the United States Congress. Before each tournament, students write bills and resolutions on a variety of issues pertaining to issues that face the United States Congress. The difference between these two types of legislation is that bills outline the parameters for an act of law whereas resolutions convey the sentiment or opinion of the chamber. Students are divided into chambers of around 20 students. Each chamber represents a United States House of Representatives. Before the debating portion of the tournament begins, chambers must first vote on Presiding Officers (POs). One PO is elected for each of the three sessions of debate. The contestant who receives the most votes chooses which session he wishes to preside over (a matter of strategy). The Docket is predetermined, based on the date of submission of the legislation and cycling through the four topic areas: Domestic, International, Virginia, and Economic. After POs are elected and the docket is set up, debate begins. The PO for first session opens debate on the first bill. He or she first calls for an authorship speech. This speech is given by a member of the school which wrote the bill only. It is allowed to be pre-written, so as to introduce the chamber to the intent of the bill and the basic arguments for it. The authorship speech is 3 minutes long and is followed by 2 minutes of questioning. If no one from the school is present to give the authorship, a 3-minute sponsorship speech is given, which is not pre-written. After the authorship, the PO calls for a 3-minute con speech to be given against the bill with 1 minute of questioning. After this cycle, cycles of pro and con speeches with 3 minutes of speaking and 1 minute of questioning are given until either: first, 60 minutes have been spent debating the bill; or, second, the chamber votes of previous question the bill; or, third, the chamber votes to table the bill.