Gov. Matt Bevin recognizes 'bold' Johnson County students who fueled House Bill 11

Published: Aug. 22, 2019 at 11:42 PM EDT
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Governor Matt Bevin visited Johnson County Thursday to recognize the work of nine students who took their concerns to the top of the legislative ladder.

The students from Johnson County Middle School are part of a Community Problem Solving Team. They worked on a bill that was then sent to be voted on in the General Assembly earlier this year.

The bill, Senate Bill 218, addressed concerns about students using vape products on school property. Though the bill was not passed through the session, Governor Bevin said the testimonies and work displayed by the students was a driving factor for moving forward with House Bill 11.

"Eight young women and a young man who had the courage to speak up on an issue. That said, 'Something should be done about this. Legislation should be passed,'" Bevin said.

That bill, which Bevin signed into law in April, gives school districts the right to ban tobacco, e-cigarettes, and vaping on school grounds.

"They saw the dangers of vaping. They saw the impact on their fellow students. They saw the safety concerns. They recognized this in their classmates and in their own school," Bevin said.

He said the students were brave for going against the grain on the issue.

"They were willing, they were ready, and they stepped forward boldly," Bevin said.

One of the students who championed the bill, Constance Martin, an eighth-grader at Johnson Central, said she wanted to help keep her peers safe.

"We don't want to see our friends suffer and maybe get, like, cancer from these things," Martin said.

The students say they are glad House Bill 11 was passed, but they plan to return to the drawing board with their proposal before the next General Assembly.

"We would like for ours to pass," said Emily Farler, eighth-grade Community Problem Solver. "We think it's really important. It will be coming back up."