Iowa Youth Congress makes significant progress


Carly Kinning

This is the ninth year that the Iowa Youth Congress has been meeting to get high school students involved in the government.

Eileen Lagerblade and Carly Kinning

Iowa Youth Congress is a civic education program that unites high school students all over Iowa to participate in state legislation. The youth congress allows students to see how the government truly works. It also allows them to meet and discuss current issues with state legislators.

The youth congress addressed issues such as the cyberbullying reform and to bring mandatory foreign language classes to middle schools and elementary schools. In the past they have had ideas to increase alcohol taxes.

The members of the youth congress create plans for bills each year  and hold elections to propose and debate them to state lawmakers. The goal is to pass four bills each year. Senior Aditi Danakar is President of the Iowa Youth Congress, and has helped rally around multiple issues that have been successfully turned into bills.

“This year one of our main issues that has really been picked up by the governor is the cyberbullying reform,” Dinakar said.

The youth congress is able to see where their bills go and how they are doing within the legislature. Along with all of the members, freshman Tara Djukanovic hopes that they will see their bill pass.

“We’re tracking right now how the bill is going through sub committees and committees to see if it’s actually going to get passed this year,” Djukanovic said.

Participants such as Dinakar and Djukanovic have enjoyed their chance to have a voice in Iowa legislature.

Nicole Lewis is the coordinator of Iowa Youth Congress and works with the students to help them get involved by tackling issues that affect them.

“Iowa Youth Congress is a program designed to develop leadership skills and to be engaged in the government process. So any issue that affects youth around the state of Iowa they will mock congress and try and tackle these issues,” Lewis said.

Iowa Youth Congress allows 100 students to be involved. Freshman Justin Hu being one of them as well.

“There are approximately 90 youth all across the state of Iowa that come together once a year to discuss a bill they want to sponsor to get passed in Congress,” Hu said. “Eventually a few months after that they will lobby these bill to the legislature and try to get them passed. So basically were just a bunch of youth that work to pass bills in Congress that will help us.”

The youth congress successfully passed four bills on Oct. 25, 2013. They involved tanning restrictions for minors, mandatory foreign language classes for elementary and middle school students, suicide prevention, and the cyberbullying bill. The cyberbullying bill has received the most attention from the governor.