It wasn’t exactly the Governor’s Mansion on Summit Avenue, but Room 101 in the Cathedral building on Winona State University’s campus was the seat of legislative power in Minnesota last week.
That was the office of Gov. Marin Keller and Lt. Gov. Allison McEntaffer, both Winona Senior High School students, who led the 60th Winona Model Legislature after being elected by their peers.
The event, championed and advised by state Rep. Gene Pelowski, a former Winona Senior High School teacher, provides students in Grades 6-12 to walk in the shoes of lawmakers and experience how laws are being made.
Seventeen WAPS students participated in this year’s event. Ashiiyah Alexander served as the chair of the Education Committee, Jakob Yearous was chair of the General Legislation Committee and Teven Kreisel was vice chair of the Health and Human Services Committee.
Keller and McEntaffer signed six bills into law, including:
- A bill prohibiting the sale of ice resurfacing machines that are not powered solely by electricity
- A bill providing funding for deer abatement and crop damage report.
- A bill providing funding for school bus stop-signal arm camera systems.
- A bill that starts a pilot program to provide mental health services to incarcerated individuals with serious and persistent mental illnesses.
- A bill allowing minors 16 years and older to consent to nonresidential mental health services.
- A bill that requiring state funding for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system must not systematically disadvantage campuses based on the geographical location or relative student enrollment.
They also used the power of the veto to strike down two other potential bills — one that would permanently allow portable stands in certain wildlife management areas and another that would require paperless fishing, hunting and trapping licenses.
Other WAPS students that participated in Model Legislature include: Lina Adosari, Emily Benke, Rachel Cowgill, Jackson Gondola, Annie Hang, Sawyer Lepsch, Lorelei Macon, Reegan Olson, Mariyah Rumpca-Veronese, Archer Snow, Ella Steffes and Zeke Stutesman. The advisor for the program is Jeremy Graves.
A total of 129 bills were introduced over the two days of the event.
Model Legislature first began in 1962.