Mandatory Metal Detectors in School Act

By Chariti McElveen & Riley Young

Western Family YMCA delegate, Nicole Neri, is presenting the ‘Metal Detectors in Schools Act’ at this year’s Youth in Government conference. This bill strives to ‘decrease the number of violent school incidents and promote safety in Delaware schools.’ This bill also ensures that all Delaware public schools be required to screen students, teachers, and visitors entering any Delaware public school building through a maximum of two doors, and no person be permitted to enter a school building without going through the necessary metal detector screening procedures. This bill greatly correlates to the current state of our country and the struggle Americans are facing to gain rightful gun regulations. However, how effective would this bill actually be once enacted?

When the ‘Metal Detectors in Schools Act’ was officially presented, a few delegates argued against the enactment of the bill because of concerns of efficiency and loss of time in the morning. The same ‘con’ delegates argued that students might not have enough time to get to class. As well as this, a crowd of students gathering in the morning for a metal detector screening could be the perfect opportunity for a shooter who has not yet been screened to open fire. Furthermore, a frantic crowd at the entrance of a school building could cause increased chaos and a possible fire hazard. Many agreed with the intent of the bill but felt that the only way to truly ensure more safety and decrease the number of school shootings in America is to enforce federal gun regulations.

In the end, this bill was denied primarily because delegates felt that students would be too uncomfortable being monitored every morning and such a routine procedure would resemble the procedures of a prison-like environment, causing students to feel contained. Delegates also felt the effective date being the 2023-2024 school year was too late to go into effect. Moreover, many did not agree with the fact that this bill does not apply to elementary school students because school shootings may also occur in an elementary school, and their safety should be accommodated for, just as secondary schools.

In conclusion, the intent of the ‘Metal Detectors in Schools Act’ is plausible. However, a few details of the bill also made it fairly questionable. Overall, author of the bill, Nicole Neri, presented an exceptional bill at the 2019 Youth in Government conference and we can’t wait to see what else she has to bring at next year’s conference!

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Outstanding Judiciary Group

By Savannah Ogborne

With given the case of Sheehan vs San Francisco, the Charter School of Wilmington had everything going for them. Two attornies, Sarah Klabunde and Anya Sen, took it upon themselves to argue this case with passion and care. The case pits a middle-aged, mentally ill women against the police force of San Francisco. The argument is on whether or not the police force violated Sheehan’s fourth amendment rights. The San Francisco police force entered her home with force without a warrant twice. On the second intrusion, Sheehan was shot five times by the police. The argument of these attornies is whether the shooting was justified or not. Sarah and Anya have passion, care, and education in this case.

Passion is needed with cases such as Sheehan vs San Francisco; Sarah and Anya have just that. When asked why these young students are so passionate about, Sen answered, “We need to draw a line of police brutality and normal procedures.” She was confident in her answer, stating that she strongly believes the system of police routine is occasionally unfair. Sen and Klabunde also added that this specific case can be applied to many other cases. “The mentally ill do deserve specific treatment to take their condition into account to be as fair as possible,” said Sen. Both of these young women believe that the mentally ill should not have to suffer police brutality due to their conditions.

Lastly, preparations are very important for cases and arguments like this. The preparations used to get ready for this case were things such as studying the case and briefs and performing mock trials. Both delegates recommend educating one’s self with briefs and articles on the case before constructing an argument. Along with that, mock trials are very useful for preparing to be put on the spot. Ask outrageous questions, as well as questions that are expected to be asked. Preparations are just as important as passion is for a case such as this.

First Bill Signing

By Evan Royston

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After the first day of conference, only a handful of bills have managed to pass both the House and Senate chambers to reach the Youth Governor. The first bill to reach the Governor was vetoed on the grounds of unconstitutionality. The second bill, however, was signed. This bill, written by Mai Gibson, is called the “Turn Up Delaware Act”. The bill would allow for beer and wine to be sold in supermarkets and gas stations provided that they have a liquor license. It is only the first of a handful of bills that Youth Governor Ria Swaminathan has signed.

The “Turn Up Delaware Act” describes how allowing gas stations and grocery stores to sell alcohol would benefit the state of Delaware. Establishments that chose to obtain a liquor license would be forced to pay an excise or indirect tax on the product. Gibson explains that this tax is levied on those who choose to sell the alcohol rather than the consumer. The bill also places a limit on the percentage of alcohol within a drink that is allowed to be sold. The author specifies this as 8% alcohol content for wines and 12% alcohol content for beers. Gibson concludes the bill by stating that there will be no cost to the state of Delaware and that there would be no penalties for establishments that choose not to obtain a liquor license and sell alcoholic beverages. “The Turn Up Delaware Act” is Rodney Senate bill #1 and was the first bill to be signed by the Youth Governor at the 2019 conference. 

Unsung Hero

By Ben Mong’are

Luke Henderson from the Charter School of Wilmington delegation is one of Youth In Governments many unsung heroes. Delegate Henderson is very passionate about the safety of our environment and protecting and preserving our land. One way he has attempted to put his passions into action is through the service he does locally, collecting trash from local forests and woods to keep the environment clean and healthy. Other actions he has taken is through his bill “An Act To Ban Single-Use Plastic Bags”. His bill would ban the use of single-use plastic bags at retail and grocery stores and require them to provide reusable or recyclable paper bags as an alternative. Henderson has been true to what he asks of his bill; when at the grocery stores he encourages his family to use a reusable shopping bag. But, when they do use the single-use shopping bags from the store, they reuse them and make sure that they are not thrown away. Delegate Henderson is one of YIG’s unsung heroes because he takes action in the passions he has both inside and outside of the Legislative Hall. He is an unsung hero because he does not look to get commended or recognized for what he does, he does it out of the kindness of his heart and for the overall triumph of his community and the state of Delaware.

Chief Lobbyist Wyatt Patterson

By Charles Gossett

What is your name and what organization do you represent?

My name is Wyatt Patterson, I am the Chief Lobbyist and I represent the American Civil Liberty’s Union of Delaware.

What do you do as the Chief Lobbyist?

As Chief Lobbyist, I make sure that all of our delegates are organized and not too many of us are working with the same bills. I also try to make sure everything is running smoothly, but our delegates are pretty independent and they work on their own. But that’s just my job, to keep everything organized and sure we’re all having a good time.

How did you become a lobbyist?

You can become a Lobbyist after one year of high school experience in YIG. You pick an organization to represent, research their views, then you pick certain bills that your organization is interested in and you can go for or against them in a specific time during debates.

What has been your favorite bill to see or help with?

That is a very difficult question. One of my favorite bills so far is the human trafficking rehabilitation act because I worked very closely with Avery Young, the bill author to try and make sure the bill was the best it could possibly be. Seeing how much work she put into it makes me very excited to speak with her.

What brought you to YIG?

YIG was kind of a family tradition. The Patterson’s have all done YIG and when I came of age it was pretty much my turn. I wasn’t the hugest fan in the first place but I fell in love with the program and the material.

Opening Ceremonies

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By Chariti McElveen

Friday, April 12, 2019, marks the commencement of the 51st annual Youth in Government conference, and with that brings opening remarks, words of encouragement, and warm introductions.

In the House Chambers, energy is high and delegates are eager to present and debate their bills.

The opening ceremonies finally begin with an inspiring message from delegate, Jake Poppiti. Poppiti tells a story of a heroic knight who proves himself resilient and persistent through the toughest of trials and tribulations. Delegate Poppiti then commands his fellow delegates to strive to be like the knight and keep moving forward, even in times of self-doubt.

Immediately following delegate Poppiti’s words of encouragement, a respected veteran who served on the Naval Reserve is honored and both House Representatives and Senators are ‘sworn in’.

Following the oath, the YMCA of DE CEO, Deborah Bagatta-Bowles, encourages this year’s delegates to continue to master the art of persuasion and use debate to improve their argumentative skills, even long after their time in Youth in Government. Ms. Bagatta-Bowles also advises delegates to build a network and make connections to increase opportunity. She utilizes her own experiences and personal struggles such as coming from very little money, to motivate delegates to persevere, no matter how difficult the circumstance or obstacle. In conclusion, Ms. Bagatta-Bowles urges the delegates to pursue their passion and do what truly brings them joy to make life more worthwhile. “A job that feeds you and gives you joy, is a gift,” affirms Bagatta-Bowles.

After Ms. Bagatta-Bowles concludes her message, the 2019 Youth in Government Youth Governor, Ria Swaminathan, is officially introduced. Ms. Swaminathan immediately begins her introductions by stating her primary goals for this year’s Youth in Government conference. Swaminathan informs her fellow delegates that she hopes to keep an optimistic outlook this weekend, strive for greatness, never give up, and most importantly, improve the economy.

Governor Swaminathan continues with the concern that every student is not receiving the education they deserve. She then declares her goal to improve education in Delaware so that Delawarean students may be proud of where they are from. Furthermore, Ms. Swaminathan states that she also hopes to make the city of Wilmington safe again and strive for more gun control within these cities. “Everyday a Delawarean dies from the opioid epidemic,” states Swaminathan. She states this fact primarily to raise awareness for the troubling issue in our home state and spark change. Governor Swaminathan goes on to mention how the economy relates to everything, especially education safety. She states three more primary goals which include: 1. Budget smoothing, 2. Improving job markets through programs, and 3. Adjust fiscal policy.

To conclude, Swaminathan simply advises her peers and fellow delegates to relax, take deep breaths, disagree with respect, and take the weekend to not be the smartest in the room, but learn from other delegates and grow in skill.

The final speaker for the opening ceremonies is Senate Majority Whip, Bryan Townsend. Townsend begins with a disclaimer: he has not always been a fan of politics. When Townsend was in grade school, his school had promised a soda machine but unfortunately, did not deliver. After the incident, Mr. Townsend felt bitter towards politics and dismissed the idea of pursuing a political career. Sometime later, Townsend regained interest in politics when he noticed the fractured education system in Delaware and the lack of care for our school educators. Mr. Townsend assures the delegates that ‘politics can be used to make people’s lives better’ and that ‘politics’ is not a dirty word, it just needs to be utilized for the right reasons. Townsend encourages the delegates to learn to disagree respectfully because this is the generation that will need to make groundbreaking and economy-changing decisions. Mr. Townsend concludes by urging delegates to ‘be real decision makers and real difference makers’. Before exiting, Townsend answers a few delegates’ questions regarding possible legislation and his personal experiences as a political figure.

With all of the inspirational messages that were delivered at this year’s opening ceremonies and the unmatchable energy illuminating from the delegates, it is certain that the opening ceremonies are only setting the tone for another exciting and successful Youth in Government conference.

An Act to Increase Safety and Security in Public and Charter Schools

By Evan Royston and Savannah Ogborne

Josh Masten, a young, first year sophomore, along with Jay Desai, a fellow sophomore, has written a bill for the purpose of increasing safety and security in public and charter schools with the possible use of firearms. Savannah Ogborne and Evan Royston, both first years, have conducted this interview. When questioned on what the bill is about, Masten responded that the main purpose of this bull is to enhance security in schools to make the students and parents feel safer (Masten).

When asked if Joshua Masten’s bill will pass based on prediction, he was not sure. “To be honest it is a very controversial bill and it is difficult to tell at this point” (Masten). Due to the suggestion of arming staff and teachers with firearms such as pistols and handguns, this bill is widely talked about and debated on. The cost of this enhancement of security is another concern. For the action of heightened security and protection to take place, it will cost roughly 15,232,000 US dollars. The money paid for the security will include firearms, cameras, proper locks, etc. “I support the bill” states Masten; “it can really do great; it can protect people and make people feel safer knowing that there is someone watching over them.” Joshua strongly believes that arming teacher with guns, and adding security cameras and locks to public schools with strongly improve the quality of the schools.  

Joshua is not alone on this bill. As stated by Masten, he has a few lobbyists supporting Masten’s views and ideas as well as himself. When asked by Evan Royston, “Do you have any lobbyists supporting your bill?”, Masten responded with a list of names of people who did support and say yes to his points. Joshua Masten feels confident, despite being so controversial, that his bill will be passed. The bill is hoped to be put into action June 1st, 2020.

What’s Next

IMG_2824By Senta Ritter and Katie Thompson

As the 2018 Youth in Government Model Legislative and Judicial conference comes to a close, the seniors say their final goodbyes as delegates. The press had the opportunity to interview some of the seniors to reflect on their time in the program and their plans for the future. The delegates interviewed were Newspaper and Blog Director Eden Rose, and Representative Nicole Kennedy. Both plan on studying at the University of Delaware. While Kennedy will continue her passion of Public Policy, Rose will be majoring in Anthropology. She is a part of the World Scholar Program and will be studying abroad in Rome, Italy for her first semester.

In all four years, Rose has been a part of the Western Family Y delegation. Kennedy on the other hand, has been in YiG for seven years at both the Conrad and Western Family Y delegations.

Rose’s favorite YiG moment was spending time with her old roommates and staying up having late night conversations. One of the roommates, Natalie Walton has had one of the biggest impacts on her. Natalie came back this year as an advisor, and in years past she helped Rose come out of her shell and be more comfortable. Eden came in as a “really quiet kid who didn’t want to put myself out there, afraid of messing up.” Through YiG, she’s learned that “everything isn’t as important as it feels like and you should live your best life trying your hardest at the things you enjoy rather than staying back and just observing.”

Kennedy’s favorite YiG moment was a few years ago, when alum Mabel D’souza had received a character kudo from Kennedy and she thanked her for it. Just like Rose, Kennedy learned that “everyone has a voice and showed me how powerful people can be when they come together.” For Nicole, Mrs. Tracy made the biggest impact on her time at YiG. “In sixth grade she persuaded me to join and without her I definitely would never have considered it. She really helped me grow and I don’t know what I would have done without her.”

Youth in Government has made a major impact on both girls and shaped who they are. Without the program, they both admit they wouldn’t be as outgoing as they are today. The future delegates have a ton to look forward to as both Rose and Kennedy plan on coming back as college advisors. To all the seniors who are leaving, everyone in the program wishes you the best of luck in your future endeavors.

Voter Registration Bill

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By Shannon Quinn,

        With all of the fresh new bill topics being introduced this year, there are a few that are especially interesting, and stand out among the rest. One of these bills was written by Dounya Ramadan, and it’s regarding voting registration in America’s high schools.

Under the “Purpose” section on Ramadan’s bill, she states that “The purpose of this bill is to mandate a statewide voter registration initiative in all secondary education schooling establishments and high school homeschooling programs.” Dounya is proposing that Delaware implements a mandatory initiative at all high schools where students ages 16 and up are required to attend an assembly where they are given access to computers if they don’t have access to computers/cell phones of their own. At this assembly, they would be shown a statewide PowerPoint presentation on the importance of voting. There, they will be the option to register to vote through the given website; turbvote.org.

This initiative is going to try and increase the amount of young people willing to vote. This bill is quite interesting, because in our most recent election, there were a very high amount of people who didn’t vote at all. Voting is very important to the well-being of our country, and it’s considered by many to be a civic responsibility. Increasing the amount of young people registering alone would help our voting system immensely and also encourage older voters to vote more often. Overall, this topic is very interesting and applies well to what’s going on in our country today. It’s definitely one of the stand-out bills that is bound to make a great debate.

Judicial Case

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By Anudeep Chennuri

This year’s Judicial Case focuses on the legality of license plates, and looks into a decision made by the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles Board. In this case, the Texas Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) proposed a special license plate design with a Confederate battle flag. The board rejected this proposal. This cases focuses on the rejection of the proposal, and if this rejection violated the Sons’ free speech rights.

In 2009, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Texas Division, applied for a specialty license plate. The bottom of the plate read “SONS OF CONFEDERATE VETERANS,” and at the side was the organization’s logo, which read, “Sons of Confederate Veterans 1986.” Additionally, there was a faint Confederate battle flag, along with the license plate number and the State’s name and silhouette. The Board’s predecessor denied this application.

The SCV renewed its application before the Board in 2010. Initially, the vote was deadlocked, with four members of the Board in favor of the plates, and four members against the plates. The Board ended up rescheduling the vote, hoping that all nine members of the Board would be present.

After considering many public comments, as well as an open meeting, the Board voted unanimously at its second vote against issuing the plate, explaining that it had found “it necessary to deny th[e] plate design application, specifically the confederate flag portion of the design, because public comments had[d] shown that many members of the general public find the design offensive, and because such comments are reasonable.” The Board added, “that a significant portion of the public associate the confederate flag with organization advocating expressions of hate directed toward people or groups that is demeaning to those people or groups.”

This year, Judicial delegates will debate in favor or against the legality of the Confederate License plates. Those arguing in favor of the plates claim that to deny the application of a certain plate violates the freedom of expression and private opinions. Those against the plates claim that, to have the Government favor the Confederate Plate as a license plate idea, discriminates against certain parties, and is generally considered offensive to the public eye, as it is constitutes as government speech.