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Students get chance to create new law

Mandatory retesting for senior citizen drivers and stiffer penalties for litterbugs are among the ideas McKeesport Area High School students would like to see made laws.

“There’s a $1,000 fine, but nothing is ever done,” Terrence Manning said, referring to littering. “They know they’ll never be caught. Someone needs to start enforcing it.”

Manning, 17, a senior, said he might enter his ideas on the littering issue in a statewide contest designed to make young people aware of how laws are created.

Students can enter their ideas in the “There Ought to be a Law” contest by writing an essay and submitting it to their local representative by Oct. 31. The winner will have his idea introduced in the state House of Representatives and will spend the day working as a page for that body.

“New laws come from the everyday Joe Citizen,” state Rep. Marc Gergly told McKeesport Area High School students.

Gergly, a White Oak Democrat, visited McKeesport Area High School last week as part of a program that had legislators returning to high school for the day to talk to students.

A McKeesport alumni and former school director from that district, Gergly spent the day talking to students and teachers about the state legislature, laws and what state representatives do.

“Senior citizens know how to access state government,” said Gergly, who explained to students that his office can help them do such things as register to vote, get their car registered, and check on their state income tax refund.

Students can also help state lawmakers by making them aware of problems that need to be addressed.

“You guys have great ideas,” Gergly said. “You don’t realize.”

Gergly said two of ideas entered in the student contest in the past have become state law, including one recently passed that increases penalties for drivers who speed while driving commercial vehicles.


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