2020 MHSAA State Congress
Dates: 4/3/2020 - 4/4/2020

  Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA)

Speech & Debate State Congress Championship


April 3-4, 2020         Host:  Millsaps College  




Congressional Debate is a mock legislative assembly competition where students draft bills (proposed laws) and resolutions (position statements), which they and their peers later debate and vote to pass into law.  While schools aren't always required to submit legislation to meets, it gives their students the right to an Authorship Speech, introducting the bill or resolution to the chamber.  A docket of submitted titles or full legislative text are distributed to participating schools, so students may research and prepare themselves for the debate.


MHSAA is proud to adopt the rules and regulations of the National Speech and Debate Association in an effort to add this event to the state competition.  NSDA rules were chosen in an effort to legitimize all in-state congress competitions by providing consistency and structure.  The National Speech and Debate Association is committed to educational development of the individual through the vehicle of Congressional Debate, which promotes leadership and communication skills through rigorous interaction and debate on issues confronting our democracy.  These skills will prepare them for learning and leadership throughout their lives.


It is the hope of the MHSAA Committee that the inclusion of this event will show our commitment to promote the following qualities:

·         Learn the basic principles of Parliamentary Procedure and its use in a democratic society.

·         Promote ethics in research and competition.

·         Develop interaction skills and cooperative decision-making skills used in an assembly or in a committee.

·         Promote respect for diversity of ideas and of community.

·         Promote the tools of effective and ethical leadership.

·         Promote empowerment gained through knowledge.


Legislation should have a national/domestic focus that the U.S. Congress would have jurisdiction over, taking the form of a bill.  A bill established the details and nuances behind how a particular law must work, including when it takes effect, how much of the treasury (tax levy) will be appropriated (if applicable), how infractions/violations will be dealt with, etc.  A bill may answer the who, what, when, where – and most specifically how – but it will never answer “why.”  Legislators must explain the rationale behind bills in the speeches.


Since bills attempt to solve problems faced by our country, brainstorming those areas is a great place to start.  Students should be mindful of how controversial an issue is: for example, is it likely that students would argue against a bill to assist starving infants?  Frequently, arguments over bills stem from the amount of funding.  Since there are countless problems needing solutions, funding projects often comes down to whether one item should be prioritized over another.


Students should think about exactly what the U.S. Congress has jurisdiction over.  Since the Executive Branch runs most of the agencies that enforce federal laws, understanding those helps:  for more information, visit http://www.usa.gov/agencies/Federal/Executive.shtml .  While foreign affairs often fall under the jurisdiction of the Executive Branch, funding efforts such as ASAID can have an impact on the success or failure of United States involvement in other countries, and therefore, can be found at www.thomas.loc.gov .


Writing an effective bill involves more time and research than researching one written by someone else.  A student must ask her/himself what the legislation does, who is involved (government agencies), where it happens, when it is feasible to take place and how much time is needed for implementation, and how it should be carried out (a plan of action).  All of these questions must be answered in writing the sections of the bill, with thoughtful consideration as to how thoroughly each section explains its plan of implementation for the overall bill’s plan of action.

A Resolution establishes a strong conviction by a lawmaking body to do something.  Any time a lawmaking body wants to take further and “higher” (i.e. amend the Constitution, engage in a treaty, take action through the UN, or some other multinational group), a resolution is the means by which this is done.  Unlike bills, resolutions never establish the “how” of law including enforcement, funding, and how it will work when passed.  Resolutions can be position statements on issues Congress does not have jurisdiction over (such as a foreign issue, although a bill can suggest foreign aid), or further action.


Appropriate topics exhibit seriousness of purpose.  The action proposed should be feasible, and such that the actual United States Congress would consider.  Topics should be debatable, meaning substantive argumentation exists on both sides.

Copyright © 2002-2020 Brent Hinkle. All rights reserved.