Six Concordia University, St. Paul students in adjunct professor Jayne Jones’ political science class announced their student legislative agenda for the 2014 Minnesota legislation session at a press conference for local media November 12 at the State Office Building in St. Paul.
Adam Goinz (’14), Akolade Gbadamosi (’14), Greg Kaszubowski (’14), Margaret Kiel (’15), Jordan Strickland (’15) and Amal Younis (’14), plan to promote six different bills to legislators when the 2014 legislative session begins Feb. 25. The six bills mark an ambitious expansion of the one bill per session Concordia students have previously taken on.
Jones said Concordia’s reputation for getting bills passed, such as the Kyle Herman Bill in 2010, was one of the reasons the class decided to introduce multiple bills this time around, but ultimately it was the students who wanted to take on the challenge, voting unanimously to pursue six bills.
“I told the class we had a few options this year,” Jones said. “We could do one bill like previous classes, do no bills and stick to the old textbook theory or do six bills. They all voted and it was 6-0 for tackling six bills. It’s a big task but we are fired up for this challenge.”
Local and regional media outlets, including WCCO TV, have already shown great interest in the students’ cause, which Jones feels is due to the unique and fresh viewpoint the students bring to the Capitol.
“The students are compassionate and well versed on their legislation. We tend to find stories and ideas for bills that resonate with Minnesotans. We don't do bills that have already been introduced and we don't have high priced hired guns (lobbyists) doing the work. I believe we are literally one of a handful (if that) of schools that do this type of hands-on student-led project” Jones said.
The value students gain from this project is the real experience of making the Capitol their classroom and the opportunity to showcase the type of relevant academic work students at Concordia receive.
“Concordia's perception and reputation at the Capitol is stellar,” Jones said. “Concordia is known for educating the best political science students and being involved. I think from a general Minnesota perception, this is a nontraditional service academic project. From a student perspective, these students tend to go on to law school or working in politics. This is academic hands on learning at its best.”
On the students’ 2014 legislative agenda are the following: A bill to provide dental services to Minnesotans receiving Medicaid and Medicare; a law that suggests a two-year waiting period before a student can participate in varsity sports if the parents do not also move into that same district; a bill to forbid public colleges from demanding access to students’ social media accounts; a plan to increase urban science, math and engineering education; a bill that would eliminate legislative immunity from drunken driving charges (first introduced at the 2013 session); and expanding the Kyle Herman Law, which requires schools to notify parents when their son or daughter is abused in school.
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