Platform of the 67th Youth Governor Lena GavenasThe ultimate objective of government is to ensure the welfare of all its people. Law, order, representation, defense – all being tools to achieve general well being among the populous – comprise the base of a system that builds toward that unified goal. With that guiding principle, despite disagreements over policy and legislation, I truly believe that we can lead our state and our nation in coming together after years of being pulled apart.
This year, I look forward to once again hearing you all engage – and engage with you – in informed debate on the most pressing issues of our time and defend unique and inspired new ideas on the capital floor. In the spirit of Youth and Government, I firmly support the following platform, yet both welcome and relish open discussion and debate of these issues.
I look forward to a memorable and productive year.
In this, the 67th year of the California YMCA Model Legislature & Court, priority status will be given to legislation regarding the following topics:
- Civil and Human Rights
- Crime and Punishment
- Mental Health
AbortionI firmly believe that women should be allowed to decide what happens to their bodies and, accordingly, believe that a woman should have the option to terminate her pregnancy if such is her choice. I do, however, believe that two trimesters is sufficient time for someone to decide to have an abortion, save rare extenuating circumstances if a woman is unable to make the decision in that timeframe.
Women gain power in society when they are given power over their own reproductive capacities. When a child is considered just punishment for female promiscuity, we allow blatant double standards into our law and let down future generations of children in America. Of course, abortions will lose necessity if access to inexpensive contraception increases, as it should.
As a state and as a nation, we will be strongest when every parent is a planned parent.
Affirmative Action in SchoolsIt is an undeniable truth that racism still runs rampant in our country, and that poverty is a cycle that is difficult to break. The opportunity gap between the rich and the poor, and between the white majority and the various minorities in the US will not disappear without us taking action. Schools ought to take both socioeconomic and racially based social obstacles into account when accepting applicants to colleges and other competitive educational institutions.
Socioeconomic status can place serious limitations on a person’s educational opportunities, and such barriers ought to be recognized in our educational institutions. Many who agree with some form of affirmative action argue that such socioeconomic influences be the sole factor in the process, as any racial factors would already have manifest themselves there; but that stance assumes that two students of the same socioeconomic status but of different races would face statistically identical hardships growing up. That, however, is clearly not the case. Treatment by teachers, differential punishment in the classroom, likelihood of being arrested versus simply given a stern warning, acceptance to internships and jobs, and many other factors would certainly have a significant impact on a person’s academic and extra-curricular life, but may not necessarily correlate to their socioeconomic status.
Capital PunishmentThe death penalty system as it currently stands costs the taxpayers millions of dollars each year that our state does not have, it leaves prisoners in the dark as to their sentences, and furthermore, I fundamentally do not believe it is the governments place to execute prisoners.
Drought in CaliforniaWhen discussing the drought, we must take a holistic approach in order to best adapt to and combat our current situation. Seeing as most water in the state is used by agriculture, I think it is fair to demand that farmers use sustainable irrigation practices. While we do not want drive farms into bankruptcy or price them out of competitiveness, we must learn to walk the line between overburdening our agricultural industry and preserving the environment and its resources for generations to come.
While it is true that municipal water contributes less to our overall usage than agriculture, there must be efforts to significantly reduce water usage in our cities. Having a water-requiring lawn should be dis-incentivized and information regarding how to reduce household water usage should be widely available.
Government facilities should also make an effort to xeroscape, and perhaps money saved by not watering public land could help to pay for infrastructure maintenance and upgrades.
EnergyCalifornia should strive to maintain its status as a leader in green energy development and use. With the benefit of a booming technology industry in our state, we ought to research and invest in alternative energy to decrease our dependency on fossil fuels, and reduce their associated environmental harms such as contribution to climate change and build up of particulate matter in our air.
Reducing consumption of energy is an important component of a comprehensive energy policy, and so we must revitalize our public transit systems.
Regarding hydraulic fracturing, I neither think it should be promoted at the expense of greener energies, nor think that it should be demonized and outlawed. Rather, I believe it should act as a temporary intermediary in our transition to cleaner-burning energies, so long as we use it in moderation, regulate it heavily, and require that the chemicals used in the process be disclosed.
EuthanasiaAs is their right in several other forward-thinking states, patients with terminal illnesses should be allowed to opt for physician-assisted suicide. When presented with their imminent and painful death, the citizens of California ought to have the right to choose when and how they want to die.
GMOs and LabelingWhile I do not believe there is intrinsic harm in modifying food-plants, I do believe that consumers have a right to know what they are consuming. Thus, I support the labeling of produce and products that have been genetically manipulated in a lab environment. However, I recognize the threat to our agricultural industry posed by fear of generally misunderstood practices, and would prefer to see a government-regulated “non-GMO” label used, much like the “organic” label, to positively inform consumers rather than stoke the irrational fears of the uninformed of safe products.
Gun ControlConstitutionally I recognize the right of an individual to bear arms – although as stated, this right stems from the need for “a well regulated Militia” and is thus not a pure and unencumbered right. Therefore, I believe the Constitution is consistent with reasonable controls that may subject individuals to mild inconveniences when purchasing firearms, such as intense and selective background checks, or regulations on the type of firearms or magazines an individual may purchase.
Legalization of MarijuanaIn our society, individuals are allowed to consume harmful substances: adults can smoke tobacco and drink alcohol. There is no possible rationale for keeping marijuana on the list of prohibited drugs.
Marijuana’s addictive properties are not comparable to those of the other illegal substances it is categorized with, and neither are the physical symptoms of addiction. It is more difficult to overdose on marijuana than it is on alcohol, and marijuana does not contribute to aggression in users the way that alcohol does to many.
I believe that the recreational use of marijuana should be made legal (with similar parameters as to those of alcohol or tobacco: users must be over a certain age and cannot drive while under the influence), regulated and taxed by the state government, and that some of the tax proceeds should go to research on marijuana’s long-term effects and possible medical benefits.
LGBTQ+ RightsThere is no legal or moral justification to denying marital rights to same-sex couples. Once religious arguments are eliminated from legal debate – as they must be, constitutionally – there is no logical reason to infringe upon the rights of any person, be that in regard to marriage, adoption, or anything else, based solely on sexual preference. Sexuality is not the government’s place to dictate.
I also believe that the state of California should recognize that sex and gender are not equivalent and should allow a person to apply to legally identify as the opposite sex without having to undergo a sex-change operation. Of course, birth dictated sex remains important for medical purposes, but in any other situation a person should have the right to legally be recognized as the sex with which they identify.