Real lawmakers participated in middle school mock legislation last week, and both students and lawmakers had much to learn from each other.
During a two week long civics project, Rutland Middle School eighth graders explored topics such as raising the minimum wage, expanding school choice, guaranteeing paid sick, leave and allowing a casino to be built. In a mock legislative session in the school’s auditorium, they presented their final arguments.
RMS student Kael Kysar presented an argument against adding a casino in nearby Chittenden.
“Studies show that if you are within 50 miles of a casino, you are more than twice as likely to become addicted to gambling — twice as likely. That’s a major problem,” he said.
“And also, it has been shown that small businesses like bars and restaurants around casinos are actually hurt by the development of a casino, thereby hurting tax revenue, but also hurting our small businesses,” Kysar added.
However, other points of view were presented. “People addicted to gambling should be good at gambling and not leave all their money at the table, at the casino. Experienced gamblers, gambling addicts, good gamblers know when to stop,” said Charlie Hubbell
Ultimately, the bill did not pass.
Also in attendance were Vermont Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul Reiber and several local legislators. Students spoke mostly from their point of view, but some tailored their arguments to the positions they believed the legislators would hold.