Local students participate in Argall's Senator for Day program
SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Panther Valley High School: From left to right: Senator Argall, William Stalgaitis, Brittany Cunfer, Stephanie Kachelries, Deanna Focht, Kevin Dunn, Zackary King and Mr. Damian, advisor from Panther Valley High School.
Senator David G. Argall (R-29) hosted his annual 'Senator for a Day' at Penn State Schuylkill, which featured 11 local area high schools and more than 60 students, on Thursday.
The event encourages local high school juniors and seniors to participate in a day-long process to see firsthand the difficulties of building a broad consensus with their peers, while debating bills during a simulation of the legislature.
"Our seminar brings the textbooks to life," said Argall. "The hands-on experience furthers the students' understanding on how state government works, and doesn't work."
After brief remarks in the morning, Argall broke the students into four groups to serve as members of four committees: Education, State Government, Transportation and Appropriations. At their respective committee meetings, students, like the Senate, broke into Majority and Minority Committees, as well as selected 'Senators' to sponsor legislation.
Each committee debated and amended two bills, which included downsizing the legislature, school vouchers, privatization of the state-owned liquor stores, tolling on state roads and other current issues in Harrisburg. After passing or defeating bills, the committees adjourned to meet collectively in the Student Community Center's John E. Morgan Auditorium.
Argall called each committee's Majority Chair along with the bill sponsor to debate and vote on bills that passed out of committee. After extensive debate, the Senate passed, with amendments, four bills.
Representatives Jerry Knowles (R-124) and Mike Tobash (R-125) visited committees to listen in on the debates and offered advice for the future leaders.
Participating schools included Blue Mountain, Lehighton Area, Mahanoy Area, Marian Catholic, Minersville, Nativity BVM, Panther Valley, Pottsville, Schuylkill Haven, Tamaqua and Tri-Valley.