Hamburg’s juniors debate bills in Model House of Representatives

Hamburg Area High School hosted the 2017 Model House of Representatives on June 5, debating fictitious student-written bills.
Hamburg Area High School hosted the 2017 Model House of Representatives on June 5, debating fictitious student-written bills. Submitted photo - Kyra Neff
Hamburg Area High School hosted the 2017 Model House of Representatives on June 5, debating fictitious student-written bills.
Hamburg Area High School hosted the 2017 Model House of Representatives on June 5, debating fictitious student-written bills. Submitted photo - Kyra Neff

After a year’s worth of debates and fictitious, student-written bills, Hamburg Area High School hosted 2017’s Model House of Representatives.

The Junior class, on Monday June 5, gathered in Hamburg Area High School’s LGI to debate mock bills that were written in response to current controversial issues. Students would write bills, submit them for consideration, and three bills were selected for discussion for June 5. The goal of the activity was to introduce politics and varying opinions to students, and to mimic today’s House of Representatives.

The mock House of Representatives was brought to Hamburg by social studies teacher David Kline. Encouraging students to run for pseudo political positions, write bills following the same legal format as authentic ones, and of course, dress appropriately for the model House, over 40 bills were brought to committee. Though Kline initiated the mock House, Speaker of the House, Wyatt Conrad was quick with the gavel, and appropriately led the activity.

The first bill, authored by Democrat Sierra Fisher and co-authored by Republican Katelynn Sepke, was a social security reform bill. Its purpose was to prevent social security’s inevitable bankruptcy by raising the retirement age to 71 and the age to receive government benefits to 67.

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This bill was the only bill to pass during the mock House, being the least controversial among the young Junior class. With a 100-51 vote, President and Senior David Madera was able to hold an official presidential signing, thus ratifying HR - 44.

Though the social security reform bill had a few angry comments here and there, it was nothing compared to the sea of controversy surrounding the following two bills.

The first of the two was HR - 43, a bill planning to federally defund Planned Parenthood and limit abortions to the first trimester of a woman’s pregnancy. Written by Republicans Natalie Clark and Jonah Stemko, the bill required insurance companies to either fully or partially cover the cost of an abortion, a mother under the age of 18 to notify her parents prior to receiving an abortion, and that all doctors/physicians take all opportunities to save the fetus rather than the mother should the opportunity arise.

While those are all hot topics in their own sense, the mock House of Representatives was most hung up over defunding Planned Parenthood. While some students, including Lyndsey Carr and Giovanni Klahr, argued that Planned Parenthood was much more than an abortion clinic, and therefore was worth its funding, others had the opposite opinion. Kaylah Lenhart, and authors Clark and Stemko felt that there were not only other alternatives to Planned Parenthood, but tax dollars should not be put towards the termination of a pregnancy. This bill, though close, was unable to acquire enough votes to pass.

The Equal Rights Amendment written by Democrats Wyatt Conrad, Lyndsey Carr, KyLeigh Dougherty, and Kiana Wright, sought to protect the rights of women in the workplace and their everyday lives. This would include an equal pay proposal, women making up 25 percent of the Selective Service System, and a new federal agency entitled FLAPPER (Federal Legislative Agency to Properly Protect Equal Rights) to be put into place. FLAPPER would establish locations in all U.S. states and territories, and would consist of equal parts men and women. Its goal would be, as the name suggests, to ensure that all the rights supporting equality be properly executed.

HR - 21 launched an uproar of feminist dispute betwixt the representatives. Many argued that women’s rights, as former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton put, are human rights, while many argued the opposite. Despite this bill sparking a heap of conversation, it failed to reach its two-thirds support votes, and was therefore not amended to the United States Constitution.

The activity concluded with all rising for the entrance of President David Madera.

Madera proceeded to give a speech commending the authors of the only passed bill, and ensuring them that President FDR would be proud of their interest in social security. The bill was then signed, and the faux social security reform was enacted.