Students take bills into their own hands

A bill created through the Ought to be a Law high school program becomes effective.

Published June 30, 2007

TAMPA - Gov. Charlie Crist turned Hillsborough County's school headquarters into a mini-Tallahassee on Friday, signing a bill that local students crafted into law.

The signing was ceremonial.

The law is legit.

The brainchild of Jonathan Porat, 18, a then-senior at Hillsborough High, is the High School to Business Career Enhancement Act, which allows school districts to partner with local businesses and offer students paid internships. Participating companies get tax credits.

As part of the Ought to be a Law program created by Rep. Kevin Ambler, R-Lutz, high school students throughout the county competed to get a bill proposal to the state capital. This was the first student-crafted bill to become law in the program's three-year history.

Thirteen students from different high schools helped rewrite and lobby for the bill. Porat, the original author, will attend the University of Florida in the fall where he plans to major in economics or psychology.

"To get more young people involved in government, it's the greatest civics lesson we can achieve, " said Gov. Crist, whose early interest in politics was sparked by his father's stint on the Pinellas County School Board. "It shows them they can make a difference."