Las Vegas Sun

April 20, 2014

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Sun Youth Forum :

Students’ Forum Touches On IRS Reforms, MX, Iran

The MX missile system, the hostage crisis in Iran and IRS reforms were some of the key topics discussed by nearly 700 local high school students attending the 25th annual Las Vegas SUN Youth Forum Tuesday at the Convention Center.

Students on the National Affairs panel agreed the IRS needs reform because the system of taxation is unfair to middle-class Americas.

Some students blame the rich and large corporations of undermining the country’s tax system by taking advantage of loopholes in tax laws. But most of the students said the IRS is to blame and Congress should eliminate any any opportunities for tax loopholes.

Mary Rowan, a senior at Western High School, told the group, “My dad is in the middle class, and if he gets a raise, that puts him in a higher tax bracket and he ends up earning less money.”

The students also gave considerable of attention in the discussion sessions to the hostage crisis in Iran. Some students surprised their fellow students and the moderators by saying the United States should seize the hostages even if a few had to die. But most of the students agreed that more diplomatic efforts, not military action, is needed to free the hostages.

On local issues, the students were equally divided on the MX missile system, which is planned for much of Nevada and Utah.

“It comes down to whether you’re an American first or a Nevadan first,” said Tom Burns, a senior from Bonanza High School. “We need defense and the MX will do that.”

But Grant Warder, a junior at Valley High School, responded, “We don’t need MX. We already have enough bombs to blow up the world millions of times.”

Whether pro or con, almost all the students agreed the MX will be built in Nevada and Utah despite local sentiments. They said the two states should gather as much information on the system as possible, and plan for the problems and benefits it will bring.

The majority of students agreed that the drinking and gambling age should be lowered to 18 years-of-age from 21. They reasoned that 18-year-olds are considered adults legally, and therefore they should be allowed to drink before they are 21.

Fifteen Southern Nevada high schools each sent 49 junior and senior students to the SUN Youth Forum.

The students were divided among 14 panels discussing seven topics, ranging from the teenager to world affairs.

Bob Forbuss, a Clark County school trustee and Dr. Kathleen Lyons, from UNLV, moderated the panels discussing education. Jan Haupt, a community leader and Jim Gans, acting director of the Clark County Sanitation District moderated the students covering issues of importance to teenagers.

Peggy Phillips, a former Clark County school trustee, and James Bilbray, a state senator, moderated panels discussing world affairs. Ray Willis, public information officer for the Clark Count School District, and Jean Ford, a state senator, moderated the students talking about state and local issues. Zel Lowman, former District Court administrator, and Dan Newburn, religion editor at the Las Vegas SUN, moderated the two national affairs’ panel. Dave Cooper, a public relations and advertising executive, and Hank Tester, director of community affairs at KTNV, moderated students covering politics and civil rights.

Richard Bryan, Nevada’s attorney general and Harry Reid, chairman of the state gaming commission, moderated the crime and law enforcement panels.

Following registration at 8 a.m., the students discussed issues related to the topic of their panel until 11:30 p.m., when they broke for a buffet-style lunch served in the massive East Hall of the Convention Center. Discussions continued until 2 p.m., when they recessed to a large meeting room to enjoy entertainment provided by Harry Anderson, a comedy magician at the Riviera Hotel; Gary Mule Deer, a comedian at the Silverbird Hotel; and Carl Waxman, a comedian at the Las Vegas Marina Hotel.

Students from each panel selected one from among their group to present their conclusions on the topics they discussed. The students will give their reports on television, the date and time to be announced in the near future. Seven of the finalist will also prepare summaries on each of the seven topics which will appear in the Las Vegas SUN in the “Where I Stand” column.

The panel finalist are Education - Neco Roberts, Eldorado H.S., and Lisa Morneau, Valley H.S.; Teenager Mike Isselin, Eldorado H.S., and Robert Vercheck, Chaparral H.S.; The World - Doug Fuller, Clark H.S., and John Penuelas, Boulder City H.S.; State and Local Affairs - Harold Huguley, Valley H.S., and Tom Burns, Bonanza H.S.; National Affairs - Jamie Daniel, Eldorado H.S., and Fran Merola, Bonanza H.S.; Politics, Civil Rights - Dawn Nuckels, Eldorado H.S., and Kelly Rogers, Bonanza H.S.; Crime and Law Enforcement - Sean Griffiths, Valley H.S., and David Pong, Boulder City H.S.