WAPS students participate in Winona Model Legislature

The 57th annual Winona Model Legislature came to a close Thursday afternoon, and the students from Winona Senior High School, Winona Middle School and others in the area were quite productive.

The session, held at Winona State University's Tau Center, ended with 16 bills signed into law. It raised $2.5 billion in tax revenue, which left it with $2.3 billion in extra general fund monies.

Among the bills passed included:

  • Insulin price increase prevention
  • Greenhouse emissions reduction
  • Reclassified marijuana as a Class 2 drug
  • Farm to School program to bring Minnesota grown food straight to schools
  • Created a law for e-learning on snow days
  • CTE funding of $1 million each for Winona State and Minnesota State College Southeast to train more CTE teachers, modeled after Rep. Gene Pelowski's bill in the Minnesota House of Representatives
  • Appropriated $6.5 million to make voting easier for people living with disabilities and to increase voting security

Several WSHS students held high office. Ryka Parsi was governor, Cooper Hancock was lieutenant governor and Mikaela Mohr was Speaker of the House.

In addition, Kajun Harris was chair of the Environmental and Agriculture Committee, Issara Schmidt was chair of the General Legislation Committee, Madison Bell was chair of the Judiciary Committee, Kaleb Brommerich was chair of the Transportation Committee, and Brandon Scott was chair of the powerful Ways and Means Committee. 

Several students from Winona Middle School served as pages, including Molly Cassellius, Clay Cottrell, Ava Dalenberg, Cameron Hancock and Malia Indra.

Rep. Melissa Hortman, the Speaker of the House, spoke at the opening ceremonies on Wednesday, and Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon gave the welcoming address and gaveled in the officers.

The Winona Model Legislature program started in 1962. Since 1975, Pelowski, a former social studies teacher at the high school who now represents this district in the state House, has served as the advisor.