Matt Schickling, the Wire
Drones, liquor privatization, the Iran nuclear deal and the Marcellus Shale tax proposal have at least one thing in common: state Rep. Scott Petri’s interns want to talk about them.
During a public meeting at the Village of Wrightstown Library last Wednesday, four interns from Council Rock High School South and area colleges presented on these issues and recommended solutions for policy makers.
“These are topics they’ve chosen themselves. They’ve done all the research.” Petri said. “There may be things they say you disagree with, but I would say to you that in a democracy, they have every right to stand in front of you, state their beliefs with confidence and be subject to questions, if they want.”
Mike Ufberg, who is going into his senior year at Council Rock South, led off the presentations by talking about the Iran nuclear deal. His presentation gave the history of the Iran nuclear program and provided background for the negotiations. He drew parallels between the proposed deal and the Agreed Framework, a similar agreement made between the United States and North Korea in 1994, which ultimately broke down after eight years.
In fielding audience questions, Ufberg said that he is against the P5+1 making a deal with Iran or, if a deal must be made, he hopes it would include certain requirements, like randomized inspections.
“We don’t know what’s really going to be happening behind closed doors, especially because we don’t have a good relationship with Iran.” Ufberg said.
Petri acknowledged that these presentations are similar to how his staff discusses issues. He emphasized the importance of understanding foreign cultures when evaluating policy decisions.
Sean Burke, a junior at Council Rock South, delivered a presentation on drones. It focused not just on military use, but highlighted civilian concerns like safety and privacy.
“Police can use drones to search places they cannot see without a warrant, which is controversial,” Burke said.
His presentation focused on how drone use could be regulated. Currently, there is no legislation in Pennsylvania to moderate drones. Instead, the state falls under restrictions set forth by the Federal Aviation Administration with regulations, for example, on how close drones can fly to airports or sports stadiums.
“Obviously, there are safety concerns. They could potentially have explosives attached to them,” Burke said.
He suggested that this issue is something state legislators will have to focus on as drone use inevitably becomes more prevalent.
Another presentation by Joe Ward, a senior at Moravian College, was about the issues surrounding liquor privatization in Pennsylvania, and Jimmy Newman, a senior at Westminster College, focused on Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed severance tax on Marcellus Shale drillers. Newman highlighted implications for drillers and residents in the area and how state revenue would be affected.
The interns are either volunteers or working for college credit. These presentations were meant to give them an opportunity to evaluate issues the way any legislator would with his or her staff.
“When we have briefings in our caucus room, these are as good as any briefings we get from staff,” Petri said. “I was really impressed.” Φ
State Rep. Scott Petri’s district office is located at 998 2nd Street Pike in Richboro. For more information, call 215.364.8626 or visit www.reppetri.com.