Assemblywoman Amy Paulin is sponsoring her fourth annual “There Ought to Be a Law” contest for students in grades six to eight throughout the 88th Assembly District.
The contest asks students to identify a problem impacting New Yorkers that could be solved by creating a new law. One first-place winner will be selected and have the opportunity to see his or her idea be introduced as a bill in the New York State Assembly and potentially become a new law. The winner will have the opportunity to join Assemblymember Paulin in Albany, where he or she will be acknowledged on the floor of the New York State Assembly and have a private tour of the State Capitol. Second and third-place winners will receive official citations from the New York State Assembly.
“I never cease to be impressed by the many essays we receive each year, and how the students who write them demonstrate so much empathy, critical problem-solving skills, and creativity,” said Assemblymember Paulin. “They may not yet be able to vote, but they can have a strong influence on public policy and on the life and conditions of people in their community by engaging with their state government. I hope even more middle school students take advantage of the opportunity this year!”
Last year saw a three-way tie for first place, with all the winners coming from Pelham Middle School. Dorentina Lucgjonaj and Lawrence Ohmes each wrote winning essays on the dangers of e-cigarettes, including JUULs, and arguing for stricter regulation to prevent the sale of such devices to teenagers. Leila Brady wrote the other winning essay about new technology to provide color-correcting lenses to correct for color blindness. Both ideas were incorporated into pieces of legislation that Assemblymember Paulin introduced last session.
Previous years’ winning essays included a proposal to mandate free Pre-K for all 4-year olds in New York State and a mandate for insurance to cover of hearing aids.
All contest submissions are due by March 29. The students whose essays are selected will be notified in late April, with the first-place winner taking a trip to Albany before the legislative session ends in June. Interested students need to write an essay (750 words maximum) detailing their proposed idea for a law. There are no limitations on what a student can recommend. Creativity is encouraged. Students can download the form and e-mail their entry or simply fill it out online here.