State representatives host ‘There Ought to be a Law’ essay contest

By Alex Garcia….
State Representatives Michael Bileca (RMiami), Jose Felix Diaz (R-Miami) and Carlos Trujillo (R-Miami) recently hosted a “There Ought to be a Law” essay contest.

The contest, which was open to high school students within their respective districts, took place at South Miami High School. Eighteen finalists from more than 150 entries were chosen to present their essays.

The three winners of the contest were:

Ian Escalante of Miami Coral Park High — The proposed bill would require recipients of welfare to perform a certain number of hours of community service in conjunction with the required job search.

Mercedes Ortiz of South Miami High — The proposed bill would require restaurants to clearly post the calorie count of all food items on every menu.

Nicolas Suarez of Belen Jesuit Prep — The proposed bill would create fixed property tax for seniors on a fixed income. The tax break would be for seniors who have been in their home for a number of years and would only be applied for their homesteaded property.

Proposed laws varied from increasing the difficulty in public school curriculum to banning texting while driving.

“I was very impressed with the quality of the ideas and, more importantly, with the presentations that the students prepared,” Rep. Jose Diaz said.

The purpose of the contest was to help give insight into the state’s law making process.

Three winners were chosen at the end of the contest, one from each of the members’ districts. The winners were awarded with the opportunity to become a messenger during the 2012 legislative session. The messenger program has been in place for many years and affords the opportunity to 14- to 17-year-olds to work in the Capitol for a week. Messengers are sponsored by members of the legislature and there only is one position available per legislator.

“This is a great opportunity for these winners to experience firsthand how the legislative process actually works,” Rep. Bileca said.

“We were happy to facilitate this learning experience and see the enthusiasm of these students, their teachers and schools in getting a deeper understanding of how ideas can become laws,” Rep. Trujillo said.

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