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FreedomCare: The Bill that Would Provide Single-Payer Healthcare for Texans Sophia Chau, LASA Delegation

By Sophia Chau, LASA Delegation

According to the Peterson Center on Healthcare and Kaiser Family Foundation, health spending in the U.S. per person was $10,966 per person in 2019, 42% higher than the country with the second highest per capita spending.

But FreedomCare wants to change that. The bill, introduced by Liberal Arts and Science Academy delegate Harsha Venkataraman in Committee Two, would provide for a single-payer healthcare system that would be paid for with a 0.6% tax on oil revenues in Texas. Under FreedomCare, all Texans would be eligible for the system.

“Single payer healthcare is a system that abolishes all private healthcare, where the healthcare is subsumed by the state, where all costs are cheaper because it is standardized and you have one system paying for all procedures,” Venkataraman said. “It’s a way to drive down costs, as well as making sure everyone has access to healthcare.”

Austin Co-Op delegate Grayson Price agreed with Venkataraman, bringing up the effectiveness of the mode of payment for the bill during debate.

“The bill author has outlined a sufficient way for how they will pay for this bill, and I believe that our greatest investment that we can make is in the people,” Price said. “That’s what this bill does, it invests in the health of our people.”

According to Venkataraman, the price is worth paying for universal healthcare.

“The bottom line is, just like with preventative medicine, if we don’t pay for it now, in the long run, we’ll pay vastly more,” Venkataraman said.

The bill was passed unanimously by Committee Two, but as of the time of this writing, there is no word on whether it will progress to the Joint Committee for vote.

Photo: Participants debate bills in Committee Two. This year, one of the bills proposed was FreedomCare, which would provide a single-payer healthcare system for all Texans.

2021-11-22T13:05:39-06:00November 22nd, 2021|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Bill Allowing Teachers to Carry Handguns is Shot Down

By Analiese Wensmann

Bill #17 from Committee #4 proposed to allow teachers to carry concealed handguns at school to help prevent school shootings. There were many points to this bill and also many questions to help in deciding this bill’s fate, but in the end this bill was not passed, those for this bill were severely outvoted five to one.

There were multiple questions asked during the time that this bill was being debated, but there were only a couple that particularly stuck out. The main one that got the legislation to talk was “What stops a student from taking the ‘handgun’?” The legislation got to talking about this and it led to that the student would not know where the handgun would be due to it being concealed, this question did pass but it never left anyones minds about there being a chance the student could find it. Another question was “What prevents a teacher from acting out?” There were multiple answers to this question, the main answer was that they would put the teachers through more tests then a normal permit would need. The last main point that was brought up was, “How would this affect a students mental health?” They could not come to a definitive point, but the two that they argued about was that the students would not feel comfortable knowing that the staff of the school would be carrying around a handgun while they were defenseless, and the other was that not every staff member would be carrying this handgun only the teachers would be, this would be so that the students could feel comfortable around their counselors.

Yes, there were many points for this bill, and yes there were many people considering passing this bill. At the end of the day though, the bill ended up in the trash and at the back of everyone’s heads as they moved on to the next bill to discuss.

2021-11-22T13:03:33-06:00November 22nd, 2021|Uncategorized|0 Comments

The Secret Life of Chloe Gaytan

By Devan Hodges

Chloe Gaytan is a senior at Veterans Memorial High School in San Antonio, TX. This year is her first year at the youth and government competition. In her free time, she plays Volleyball and works out. She has sparked up an interest in government because the class is a requirement for seniors in the state of Texas. Because of her enjoyment in government, she was notified that there was a competitive government team. Once she joined, she immediately started to design her bill. She says “I am overly ecstatic to make new experiences and learn more about government.” Chloe is competing in the Legislative category.

Chloe is the daughter of Isa and Gilburt Gaytan and the sister of Nicholas Gaytan. In and out of school, she is known for her amazing and bubbly personality. She is known throughout the school and her community for having an ongoing positive attitude. Chloe is an A student. She is so intelligent that she just recently got a full tuition scholarship to the University of Incarnate Word in San Antonio, TX. Her astonishing work in academics paid off. Senior Lily Standridge from Veterans Memorial in San Antonio, TX, says “One word to describe Chloe is compassionate. I say this because she puts pride into everything she does.” Chloe is loved by everyone around her and knows how to put a smile on anyone’s face.

Chloe is a natural born leader. She is captain of the volleyball team at Veterans. She has been on varsity Volleyball since her sophomore year, and she was on junior varsity her freshman year. She has impressed her coaches and teammates tremendously with all the effort and dedication she puts into the sport. She also played in the SA Empire team and was captain. Chloe is very dedicated to volleyball and hopes to maybe play in college.
Chloe’s ultimate goal in life is to be a psychologist. She wants to go to school to get her doctorate in psychology. She wishes to finish her schooling to please herself and her parents. Her father is her role model because he dropped out of high school his freshman year to help support his family. She is inspired by him because despite the conditions her father went through, he still made it to where he is now and didn’t give up along the way. She aspires to be like him because when things get hard she wants to have the strength to keep going although things get in the way.

Chloe is here today to get a bill passed. Her bill is about public attorneys being overworked. She sees an issue and wants to fix it by essentially making everyone a “public attorney”, that way there is less stress put on public attorneys. She plans on doing this by having the lawyers work for the state. She believes that just because someone has more money then another doesn’t mean they should be able to get away with everything simply because they have more money to give a lawyer more motivation.

Chloe is a well-rounded student with integrity. She is adored by everyone around her and always has a loving smile on her face that can brighten up a room. She is destined to do great things because of her dedication and drive to have a successful life. Chloe’s personality is like a ray of sunshine in someone’s darkest days. She is a very responsible person overall and has the ability to lighten up everyone’s mood around her. The world is lucky to have Chloe Gaytan!

2021-11-22T12:59:52-06:00November 22nd, 2021|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Democracy in Action: Meet Your Candidates Running for Attorney General

By Sophia Chau, LASA Delegation Austin District Conference

A core component of Democracy is elections. This year, two candidates are running for Attorney General at the Youth and Government (YAG) Austin District Conference: Catherine Masey of the Liberal Arts and Science Academy delegation, and Elif Painaik of the NYOS Charter School delegation. According to Masey, she is running on a platform of unity and outreach. According to Painaik, she is running on a platform of organization. If elected, the winning candidate will serve as Attorney General for next year’s conference.

Masey’s proposals include creating programs where YAG members would give presentations to younger students.

“Youth and Government participants [would] create and give presentations to younger students on the judicial process and things like that,” Masey said.

Painaik’s organization-based platform would include giving packets to judges on how to judge and optimizing the system for YAG registration and applications for financial aid. According to Painaik, expanding access to financial aid is crucial.

“I think it’s a shame, especially if a talented attorney or judge—or anyone—couldn’t participate just because of money,” Painaik said.

Voting took place during the conference’s lunch period, where a ballot box was set up that students could place their votes in. The results will be announced at the closing ceremony of the conference, which starts at 4:45 p.m.

Whoever wins, both candidates agree that YAG has given them valuable experience, and wish to continue its legacy.

“I love this program so much,” Painaik said, “and I think the better I can make it for myself and the leaders that come after me in this program, the better.”

Photo (left): A participant casts a vote during the lunch period of the 2021 Youth and Government Austin District Conference. This year, participants voted for one of two candidates running for Attorney General.

2021-11-22T12:58:39-06:00November 22nd, 2021|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Proposed Legislations Aims to Improve Campaign Finance

By Devan Hodges

A Bill for the Betterment of Campaign Finance

Today November 20, 2021 at the Youth and Government competition in Austin,TX, Senator Cooper Baldwin from Veterans Memorial High school in San Antonio Texas is proposing a very important bill. He is from the Austin Bexar County Delegation. Cooper Baldwin’s case is titled “A Bill for the Betterman of Campaign Finance.” It is about “initiating a small donor matching program in which individual contributions to federal campaigns can be matched” says Cooper. In other words he says, “The government will give a certain amount of money to a six to one ratio to that individual contribution, kicking it up to what could be a potential $1,400 dollar contribution from $200 dollars.” Cooper wants to pursue this bill because it allows for more average Americans to be able to be a part of the political process.

Cooper says “I have this legal standing because of the FEC (the Federal Election Commission). They are allowed to conduct an election”. When presenting this bill, Cooper Baldwin says his strategy is to “appeal to most of the Senators’ vision for Texas and for our country going forward.” His reasoning, he says, is because, “we know that we have huge influence, almost all of our influence (95% of it) is money in our political system from super PACS and corporations, and .9% of the money infused into federal politics is from individual contributions, which is a massive problem because it means massive corporations and super PACS are speaking for ordinary Americans.” Big money corporations have taken over the political influence which is an issue because politics are for the people, by the people. With big corporations, this is limiting the power of the people.

“This bill came up when New York City, New York came up with a system doing small donor matching programs for decades but on a federal and state basis, this is going to be a new program. It is borne out of the need to overcome the power of super PACS and big money interest in our politics” Cooper states. This is where he got the idea from. He is pushing for this but at a political and federal stance as his ending goal is to allow people to have more influence in politics. It is critical for this because political leaders are influencing the average American’s everyday life.

Cooper Baldwin’s bill is about changing the influence of big money in American politics. He wants to be able to have more Americans involved in politics because, as he states, 95% of all influence in politics comes from big money corporations. He is very passionate about this Bill because it allows for average Americans to regain their voice in today’s political climate. He got the idea from New York and Sacramento as they do small donor matching programs that donate a percentage of money from what a civilian donated. Presenting the bill today, Cooper has to appeal to the people he stands before and give reasoning behind his idea.

2021-11-22T12:54:55-06:00November 22nd, 2021|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Freedman Court Trial Covers Fraudulent Art

The Freedman Court Trial

By Abby McAdams

Ann Freedman, an art saleswoman, was accused of knowingly selling a fake painting to Dominico de Sole. The trial commenced with de Sole’s testimony against Freedman. De Sole had received a referral to Freedman from a fellow dealer in Arizona. He claimed he bought a painting from Freedman in 2005, then in 2011, his wife found evidence that the painting was a fake. He argued in court that Freedman had cheated him into buying an “authentic painting”. The next witness was then brought forth – David Anfam. Anfam is an art curator and historian who claimed his name was falsely credited to have authenticated Freedman’s works. He revealed that he did send a letter of recommendation supporting Freedman, but never directly stated that he authenticated her.

Finally, the last witness of testimony was called to the stand – Jamie Martin. Martin is an expert witness and forensic analyzer for art. He was asked by de Sole to authenticate his painting after his wife suspected it was fake, and Martin discovered it, in fact, was. Martin analyzed the pigments used in the painting and determined that it couldn’t be authentic. After the accusers took a seat, Ann Freedman claimed her innocence to the court. She admitted she sold the painting to Dominico but didn’t know they were fake. She then went on to claim she did not take Anfam’s quote out of context. The next witnesses were Stephen Polcari and Laili Nasv. Polcari claimed that the International Foundation for Art Research used his opinion to determine the authenticity of Freedman’s paintings. Nasr, manager for the National Gallery of Art, had her opinion used without permission by Freedman.

The conclusion of the trial ended with Freedman’s conviction. Freedman was proven fraudulent by the accusers to have knowingly sold fake art to Dominico, as in her defense speech, she was factually inconsistent. The closing statement of the accusers stated “she took opinions and made them expert authentication out of context”, and accused her of committing mail fraud.

2021-11-22T12:52:40-06:00November 22nd, 2021|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Debate Rages over Repeal of Heartbeat Act

By Adriana Quevedo

Should the heartbeat act be repealed? Bill 27 was introduced by Mona Rosas and most of the delegates leaned towards the passing of this bill. The author of the bill started the opening statement by stating the current policy of heartbeat act. The heartbeat act is the abortion law in Texas that states that 6 weeks after conceiving a woman cannot abort the fetus. Then the delegate stated how she wanted to change the policy back to the original abortion law. The original abortion law declares that 24 weeks after conception a woman cannot get an abortion.

The questioning period was made up of multiple pro stances. One delegate asked if the author believes a person who has passed has more autonomy than a woman who wants to abort her child. The author said yes. A similar question asked was “Do you agree that a fetus that isn’t born yet has more autonomy than the person carrying the child?” The author responded with “no”. The answers to these two similar questions show the reality of how the author views the heartbeat act and what the heartbeat act enforces. I went and asked for an interview from a pro and con perspective. The questions were the same, but as I was asking the questions I realized the difference between the peoples standpoints.

The first question I had asked was how does the heartbeat act apply to them and/or others that they know. The Pro perspective responded explaining that being young and in a progressive generation it is looked down upon by traditionalists to abort and that younger generations need to make a change. She also stated that she believes that due to the heartbeat act being in place women could try to self-harm to get rid of their child. Due to this act of self-harm the woman with the child could end up hurting herself and the child if they both survive. This delegate responded answering my next question which was what is a solution to the controversy on this topic. The last question I had asked was “Should Pro-Life centers be able to say no to giving treatment?” At the current moment pro-life facilities are able to refuse abort the fetus. The Pro perspective presented that the way that in professional environments or the way that schools don’t allow teachers to express their personal beliefs is the way that doctors should be when presented with a woman who wants to abort their child.

The Con’s perspective to how the heartbeat act apply to them and/or people around them was that the heartbeat act draws a line well because it allows people their own freedom while also recognizing that fetus’ have a heartbeat and therefore are seperate entities. The Con perspective responded very strongly that if someone around them wanted an abortion they would tell them that their family would adopt the child after the person births the child. That is how the delegate would act upon the situation themselves. The last question “Should Pro-Life centers be able to say no to giving treatment?” very simply and straightforward. The delegate responded saying if a doctor who had gone to school for that job got their license revoked for refusing to give a treatment due to personal beliefs that is a different problem. The delegate also stated that the doctor that went to school for eight years should be able to make that decision of giving the treatment should be their own.

Although the opinions of the delegates varied, Bill 27 passed due to the majority of the delegates approving it.

2021-11-22T12:51:23-06:00November 22nd, 2021|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Student Preferences on Masks Vary Widely

By Analiese Wensmann

Masks are something that everyone has to live with for however long COVID is going to be around, we don’t know how long we have to wear them either. That’s where people’s preferences come into play. People have gotten bored of just what they call ‘plain and simple’ surgical masks, so what they have done is switched to wearing and making reusable fabric masks that come in all kinds of patterns, colors, sizes, etc. A lot of people like different things, no one can like the same thing as everyone else, and although everyone may seem to just be wearing masks and there’s really nothing to it, there is always an idea behind what they have on.

Some people prefer surgical masks over fabric masks. Someone named LeeAnn Partin is one of those people. She prefers the surgical masks because they “are probably better because they can be recycled back into the environment”, she believes this because she thinks that they are “more convenient” and don’t really have a chance of harming the wildlife if you end up losing your mask or dropping it out of your car.

Although there are some people who prefer surgical masks, there are a lot more who like fabric masks. Sterling Johnson prefers “the more fabric ones because they just feel better and they’re more comfortable”, he believes this because he can just reuse the fabric masks instead of throwing away a mask everyday while being comfortable at the same time.

There could also be some psychological reasons behind wearing surgical masks over fabric masks or wearing fabric masks over surgical masks, perhaps it has something to do with someone’s personality. Sterling Johnson believes that “it does have something to say about someone’s personality, because whatever they might be wearing could resemble something in their life”. What he’s saying here is depending on what someone is wearing, be it different patterned masks, plain colored, or surgical masks could have something to do with how they present themselves as a person or showing something in their personality.

2021-11-22T12:49:00-06:00November 22nd, 2021|Uncategorized|0 Comments

The Case of the Art

By Skyla Rodriguez

As Ceclia walked in the courtroom the defense and the plaintiff got their witness and case together. Anne Freedmen was being charged with Financial Damage and Wire Fraud. She is being accused of selling the paintings knowing that they’re fake. Ms.Freeman claimed they are real paintings, but allowed no authenticity for the paintings to be identified. Miss Freeman put two peoples names down for credibility but then the formants never examined the painting themselves.

Ms.Freeman put down David Anfam and Domenico De Sole and even asked Mr. Sole to lie on the report saying the painting is real and it was a misunderstanding. The case was

quickly closed and over after Ms.Freeman admitted to knowing the paintings were fake, but continued to sell them to the buyers.

As the case closed I asked to interview Ms.Freeman herself outside of character, his name is Everett Pendleton who goes to Port Aransas ISD. I asked Mr. Pennington how he felt about today’s event and he responded with, “As my first time here I am enjoying it and having a good experience”. Being Mr. Pendleton’s first year in Mock Trial he enjoyed coming out and seeing everything post-Covid. The hardest part for him was the memorization of the script and notes, but he felt like it was worth it after he realized that the case was built off real life events. He enjoyed playing the role, but he was under a lot of pressure given the fact that the role was handed to him. Overall he found this as a great experience and he wants to do it again next year.

2021-11-22T12:47:34-06:00November 22nd, 2021|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Pursuing Progression: How One Spark Ignites the Blaze of Political Transformation

Lead Attorney, Elif Painiak, poses with a welcoming smile after judging a round of Trial Court at the YMCA Austin District Conference.

By Sophia Portillo, Dripping Springs Delegation

A world of insecurity. Water and land became bridged, colonized, and transformed not by physicality, but by government. However, its development became inhibited by the rational fate of two options: serve as a weapon or a shield. From the bloody hands of military dictators to democratic leaders that struggle to adhere to all, there seldom appears a way to generate a balanced world. Now, the youth must work to solve this issue: fixing the injustices that arose before them. Though strictly starting by making a difference in her community, one student inches closer to evoking the change necessary to guide the world: becoming the shield.

“The youth today is faced with the problem of approachability,” lead attorney Elif Painaik said. “There is so much corruption present and just by being born into a lower-class family, you are automatically prone to seeing less success. We need to break the misconception of power as a result of economic status.”

Allowing her interest in government to grow, especially without the presence of family relations within the field, Painaik has proved the only way to truly end a misconception: break it yourself. Only when the misconception becomes challenged can one commence the rectification of their community.

“I don’t think changing a community stems from what you do now, but develops from how the impact you make takes shape later,” Painaik said. “Even if people don’t remember you, they will remember your efforts to make positive change, and that remains most important.”

Surrounded by a world where media births opportunities for all to create lasting influence, the young woman became eager to educate herself on the reins of the political spectrum. Witnessing fellow policymakers give accounts of their experiences, marked the start of her journey.

“My involvement with government first began with the 2016 election. It sparked my interest as I began to realize just how much power politicians have to help the lives of others,” Painaik said.

Since then, Painaik has done nothing but work towards allowing herself to become the next influential leader of her community, but only with one principle has she come close to achieving this goal.

“Hard work, more specifically, hard work towards doing what is right, has been the basis that I live by,” Painaik said. “Working towards something that is based on selfish desire does not determine hard work, but the impact that you spread among others does.”

The hard work that the lead attorney has accomplished has only resulted from the establishment of how she distinguishes what government means to her.

“Government is problem-solving. The failures of former generations, such as the destruction of our planet through oil extraction and lack of scientific knowledge, have made my generation responsible to find a cure,” Painaik said.

With the weight of the world on her shoulders, Painiak manifests the weaknesses around her into her strengths. With years ahead of her, the next biggest challenge obstructing her path stems from repurposing what she perceives a moral world to look like.

“Though there is much necessary work to be done, I believe the one thing the world needs to change is selfishness. If everyone worked primarily in the favor of other people, rather than for wealth or happiness, we would live in a righteous world,” Painaik said.

2021-11-24T07:47:37-06:00November 22nd, 2021|Uncategorized|0 Comments