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Last updateSat, 21 Oct 2017 12am

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    Friday, October 20, 2017-6:58:38A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

80 student leaders participate in youth summit

POLICY proposals to address concerns regarding the economy, the budget, health, welfare, education and the environment were presented to lawmakers by 80 high school students who participated in this year’s Close Up Youth Summit held at Saipan World Resort on Sept. 20, 21 and 22.

The event was sponsored by the Close Up Insular Areas Program which is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior-Office of Insular Affairs.

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Close Up program leaders Anna McMullen and Katie Chandler said the purpose of holding the three-day summit is to create a sense of leadership among students.
House Minority Leader Edmund Villagomez, Rep. Ed Propst and Rep. Vinnie Sablan are among the lawmakers who attended the Close Up Youth Summit.
Rep. Vinnie Sablan poses with some of the student leaders who participated in the Close Up Youth Summit  at Saipan World Resort on Sept. 20-22, 2017.  Photos by Lori Lyn C. Lirio

Among the students’ proposals is imposing additional tax on the earnings of Saipan’s fledgling casino.

They said there is a need to provide the Department of Public Safety with more funding because in states where there are casinos, there is an increase in social ills, including increased substance abuse, mental illness, suicide, bankruptcy, violent crime, auto theft and larceny cases.

The students propose more funding for the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation as well as the expansion, and maintenance of all student bus stop shelters in the CNMI.

The students at the same time expressed concern over the federal CW program which will end in 2019.

“The CW program is a problem for all contract workers, their families, and their employers. The economy will drastically drop due to the need for workers to fuel the industries on island. In order to properly address the issue, we should have our legislators bring the issue to the President and the Congress….”

The students likewise support House Bill 20-11, which would ban the use of plastic shopping bags. They said an alternate solution is to impose a 25-cent fee on all plastic bags, 5 cents of which would go to the stores. Based on the proposal, the rest of the money would be utilized to build recycling centers onSaipan, Tinian, and Rota.

Rep. Ed Propst described the student leaders as intelligent visionaries.

“They are basically young policy makers. They were able to introduce some great proposals that we are going to take a look at,” Propst said.

“I also encouraged the students to visit their legislators or to call or email us and ask us about the status of bills they support or oppose, and then to ask us what are we doing about it. Are we going to listen to our youth or are going to ignore them?”

Rep. Vinnie Sablan, main author of H.B. 20-11, was impressed by   the youth leaders. “It is very comforting to have these future leaders speak to us and show us their ability to lead. At such a young age, they are already thinking of all these issues. It is astonishing.”

House Minority Leader Edmund Villagomez said the youth summit was a good opportunity for lawmakers to get ideas for future legislation.

“Some of the issues discussed have been tackled, some need to be fine-tuned, some need to be looked at,” he said.

Villagomez said the students’ proposals were “on point.”

“They know a lot. They have looked at the issues deeply and they have good proposals.”