A local Model Legislature program recently celebrated 50 years of helping high school students try their hand at government, and one of its sponsors has been involved all 50 years.

After gathering in the area for a few meetings, Eastern Indiana Model Legislature concluded its season at the Indiana General Assembly chambers in Indianapolis.

This year’s Model Legislature leaders at the Indiana General Assembly are, from left: President Pro-Tempore of the Senate Lorelei Guenther and Gov. Zachery Hugo, both Centerville students; and Lt. Gov. Rachel Ingram and Speaker of the House Jenna Elliott, both of Union County. Supplied

Richmond Jaycees started the program in 1973. Schools currently involved are Centerville, Hagerstown, Northeastern, Union County and Winchester.

Each school has 30 students represented, with a total of 100 in the House of Representatives and 50 in the Senate.

Students choose political parties they want to be affiliated with or declare themselves as independent.

They write bills, try to get them out of committee, discuss them in front of the two houses and then hope the governor will sign.

This year, Gov. Zackery Hugo of Centerville and Lt. Governor Rachel Ingram of Union County signed 26 bills to take effect in Indiana.

Philip Stevenson has been a sponsor for Centerville since Model Legislature’s first year when he was a teacher. He has continued helping with the program even after retiring as the district’s superintendent.

Summaries of 2023’s signed bills

  • Assign one parking space for every 50 parking spots for expectant mothers or mothers with babies under age 1. Violations are $100.
  • Terminally ill adults can voluntarily end their lives through self-administration of lethal medications prescribed by a willing, licensed physician expressly for that purpose.
  • Change Core 40 diploma requirements to include one credit of fine arts.
  • Schools must provide a vegetarian lunch option without charging more than other options.
  • Suppliers and distributors in retail stores must display retail prices of all items before purchase. First offense, $1,000 fine; second, $3,000; third, store loses license.
  • Schools must pay substitute teachers at least $125 per diem regardless of work experience or educational background.
  • Schools must teach a second language by first grade.
  • Products grown or made with ingredients using pesticides or herbicides must clearly be labeled along with the product’s ingredients.
  • Sexual offenders of marital rape must be punished like those of non-marital rape.
  • Require eight weeks paid parental leave for citizens with a full-time job.
  • Repeal HB 1608 requiring teachers to tell parents if their child requests changing their name or pronoun.
  • Newly built public facilities must install unisex bathrooms.
  • Regulate conditions in dog breeding. Females must have 16-week respite after litter’s birth before re-impregnation and can’t be bred more than twice per year. Puppies must stay with mother until at least 8 weeks. Proper nutrition, water, shelter, socialization, space, exercise and vaccinations are required.
  • Allow choice of anesthetics when inserting an intrauterine device.
  • Improve accessibility of birth control for teenagers and adolescents.
  • Close wage gap between men and women by having equal pay audits to ensure that they’re paid the same at same jobs.
  • Teachers must obtain mental health first aid certification.
  • Increase height and width of public-school restroom doors and decrease space between stall frame and door.
  • Mandate a class concerning mental health in high school curriculum.
  • Control public and private railroad crossings with stop signs if they aren’t already controlled.
  • Provide a rehabilitation specialist in all school guidance offices.
  • Lower required age to run for a local school board from 21 to 18. Candidates must have received a high school diploma or GED and they cannot hold a board leadership position until age 21.
  • Require public transit to be accessible to any Hoosier.
  • Protect male rape victims from paying child support.
  • Keep view of traffic from being obstructed by structures such as bushes or trees. Property owner is responsible where object rests.
  • Seal youth criminal records once youth is legally emancipated or reaches age 18.

Additional Wayne County Model Legislature leaders

  • Senate President Pro-Tempore (Lorelei Guenther) and Senate Parliamentarian (Sydney Miles), both of Centerville.
  • House of Representatives leaders: Andrew Purcell and Aubree Booher (Centerville); Griffin Doerstler and Cheyanne Beasley (Hagerstown); Quinten Shepherd and Story Pike (Northeastern).
  • Senate leaders: Eli Brummett and Nathanial Minton (Centerville); Emily Hill and Charley Rinehart (Hagerstown); and Wyatt Sawyer (Northeastern).
  • House committee chairs and/or outstanding committee members: Centerville’s Aubree Booher, Savannah Davis, Anna Davis, Grayson Jarvis, Jayden Cornett, Tizeta Jarvis, Logan Smith, Riley Duke, Andrew Purcell and Alex Goodwin.
  • Senate committee chairs and/or outstanding committee members: Charley Rinehart of Hagerstown; Wyatt Sawyer of Northeastern; and Gavin Robertson, Hailey Elsrod, Lorelei Guenther, Nathanial Minton, Sydney Miles and Anna Nevels of Centerville.
  • Centerville’s Aubree Booher and Nathanial Minton were among outstanding party leaders.
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A version of this article appeared in the November 22 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Millicent Martin Emery is a reporter and editor for the Western Wayne News.