Senator Browne Hosts 3rd Annual "Senator for a Day"
Students given an Opportunity to See How Government Works
State Senator Pat Browne hosted his 3rd Annual "Senator for a Day" at Muhlenberg College in Allentown on Friday, November 6, 2009.
"Senator for a Day" is an opportunity for local high school students to get a taste of what it is like to be a state legislator – in this case a Senator - and how the legislative process works in Pennsylvania. Students are given an opportunity to participate in the full process of passing a bill through the state Senate.
"This is the third year we have hosted "Senator for a Day" and I have really enjoyed the opportunity to share the legislative process with high school students here in the Lehigh Valley and Monroe County," Senator Browne said. "This event not only gives these young men and women a chance to see how the legislative process works, but also allows them to participate. We provide them the starting point for legislation. They decide which bills they want to work on, which they want to amend or support. Finally, they have the chance to vote with the rest of the students on every piece of legislation to see whether or not it passes the full Senate."
The morning began with Senator Browne explaining the legislative process to the high school students from six local school districts. The students were then broken down into groups (Senate Committees) with each committee discussing two pieces of legislation.
Some of the bills up for discussion were: requiring all Pennsylvania high school students to pass, before graduating, the 11th grade Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) exam or an equivalent local assessment, increasing the gas tax to fund mass transit, allowing natural gas and petroleum drilling on state parks and game land and allowing school districts to randomly select students to search their belongings, cars and lockers for drugs and drug paraphernalia.
The three committees – Finance, Environmental Resources and Energy and Education – met to decide what to do and whether or not to pass their two pieces of legislation out of committee and onto the Senator floor for a vote by the full Senate. During this portion of the day, students had the opportunity to see the role that lobbyists play in the legislative process as lobbyists from Harrisburg helped the students determine the affects of their votes on each piece of legislation.
The day culminated with all the students, acting as the Senate body, voting on each piece of legislation that was passed out of the three committees to see if they had enough votes to pass the Senate.
Senator Browne then, in a ceremonial move, signed the approved legislation into law and adjourned the Senate.
Senator Browne’s "Senator for a Day" was open to all of the high schools (public and private) in the 16th Senatorial District, which includes parts of Lehigh, Monroe and Northampton Counties.
Participating in this year’s "Senator for a Day" were: Louis E. Dieruff High School, Northampton Area High School, Parkland High School, Pen Argyl Area High School, Roberto Clemente Charter School and William Allen High School.
"Senator for a Day" would not be possible without tremendous support and sponsorship from Muhlenberg College, which hosted the program, and White and Williams LLP.
"I thank Muhlenberg College and its president, Dr. Peyton Helm, for generously hosting "Senator for a Day" at their fine institution," Browne said. "I also thank Nancy Conrad and White and Williams for once again helping to sponsor this great event. Both Muhlenberg College and White and Williams have shown a real interest in educating our young people on the process of our state government."
"Senator for a Day" has become an annual program for Senator Browne and he will again hold it in 2010 at a date to be determined.
"I am thankful for the opportunity to work with these bright, young people who may one day be state legislators themselves," Senator Browne said. "It is important our young people see and understand how our government works. I look forward to having the opportunity to hold "Senator for a Day" again next year with a new group of high school students."
Below is list of Advisors and Students who participated in this year’s "Senator for a Day."
Dieruff High School
Northampton Area High School
Parkland High School
Roberto Clemente Charter School
William Allen High School