A group of high schoolers who’ve been holding a mock legislature this week tried to tackle one of the issues that has stalled at the statehouse, but came up with the same result as the elected officials.
Aisha Newsome, a 16-year-old junior at Johnston High school, tried to get the other teens to back a “mock” bill that called for raising the state cigarette tax by a dollar. “During the debate, it didn’t go too well,” Newsome says. “A lot of people thought that we were punishing smokers and they didn’t think that was very fair.”
The bill failed in committee on an eight to seven vote. “I know that we had talked to people and they really were going along with it but then all of a sudden they were like ‘No, I don’t like the bill’ and voted against it,” Newsome says.
Governor Tom Vilsack says the high schoolers learned a great deal about how hard it is to make a bill a law. “They learned how complicated it is and I think that’s a good lesson for a lot of people because I think sometimes look at this whole process and think it’s relatively simple and it’s not,” Vilsack says. “There are a lot of conflicting issues and interests.”
In the real Iowa legislature, the Senate has passed a bill that would raise the state tobacco tax by 36 cents but the bill has stalled in the House and never been voted on in committee. For the past two years Governor Vilsack’s been calling for an 80-cent increase.