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 Town Council President Receptive to Idea of Local Representative

February 20, 2008 - A bill recently passed by the Indiana House of Representatives would give young Hoosiers an opportunity to participate in municipal and state government, providing local leaders and state lawmakers with insight into the needs of Indiana youth.

House Bill 1162, approved by a vote of 96-0 on Jan. 30, allows a municipality's presiding officer to appoint a person under 18 years of age to serve as a nonvoting advisor on matters affecting youth in the community. The bill, authored by Rep. Matt Bell (R-Dist. 83) of Noble County, also authorizes the creation of a youth advisory council that will give Hoosiers between the ages of 14 and 18 years a chance to advise the Indiana General Assembly about issues affecting the state's young people.

"This will be a great opportunity for young men and women to learn about Indiana government," State Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Dist. 52) of LaGrange County, said in a press release. Stutzman authored the amendment to the bill that would create the General Assembly's youth advisory council.

"What's more, it will give all of us the opportunity to hear the perspectives of our youth on many issues, such as education and employment," Stutzman continued. "Teenagers deserve to weigh in on these and other issues that affect their future, and in the process, they will learn a great deal about our state government."

Knightstown Town Council President Valerie Trump said she would definitely consider appointing a youth advisor to the town council if HB 1162 becomes law.

"I think that would be a great idea," Trump said. "I think that we need to encourage the youth in the community to participate, and I think this would be a golden opportunity to do so."

One of Trump's fellow council members, Terry Guerin, also said he favored the council having a youth advisor. Even if HB 1162 ends up not being enacted, Guerin said he believes Trump or the council have the authority to make such an appointment on their own and don't need authorization from state lawmakers.

HB 1162 had its first reading before the Senate's Committee on Local Government and Elections on Feb. 4 and was scheduled for further consideration during a committee's meeting last Wednesday. The bill is eligible for amendment and vote in the Senate before returning to the House for a final vote in March.



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