HMCLA 2017 Committees and Topics

House I

Automatic Voter Registration – Delegates will debate the benefits and drawbacks of having citizens automatically registered to vote, as opposed to requiring them to register themselves. Considerations will have to include the practical, sociological, and ethical factors and how they relate both on an individual and societal level.

Price Gouging – Delegates will explore ways to address rapidly rising pharmaceutical prices, and what constitutes “fair” pricing when it comes to life-saving treatments. Delegates will be charged with determining when the government must step in on behalf of citizens and when it should allow free markets to determine prices.

House II

Bridges – Delegates will debate the issue of finding funds to maintain and repair critical infrastructure, with a focus on American bridges that have thousands of passengers cross them each day and are about to collapse. Delegates will need to determine how best to find funds for this under-funded project.

Standardized Testing – Delegates will consider the proliferation of standardized testing in the American education system, and will improvise solutions to achieve the maximum benefit for students and administrators.

Senate I

Criminal Justice Reform – Delegates in this committee will work on innovative solutions to the challenge of drug sentencing laws, seeking to balance the need to keep Americans safe with a desire for equal justice under law. This issue has challenged American lawmakers for a century, but opportunities for compromise exist for delegates willing to reach across the aisle.

Funding for Science Research – Delegates will consider the current debate in the United States surrounding the fate of science research funding. They will need to consider if basic science or applied science is more important, and how to best fund the sciences to broaden our knowledge of the world, prepare for the future, and improve the livelihood of everyday citizens.

Senate II

Private Space – NASA has been the world’s leader in space advancement for the last five decades, but it faces several challenges to its supremacy: a budding Chinese space program, a continued Russian space program, and rapidly expanding private sector space efforts. It is up to Congress to work with space experts to chart the course for one of the US government’s most popular programs; what, if any, will be the future of US government-backed space exploration?

Sharing Economy – United States labor laws over the last century have had a significant impact on what it means to have a job in the US, but the rise of the sharing economy and its major companies like Uber has left Americans increasingly working in manners that challenge that meaning. Congress must decide whether the sharing economy will result in long-term changes to the US economy and, if so, how to alter the law to achieve the best results for businesses, workers, and the country.

Brazilian Presidential Cabinet

Extra-Judicial Police Killings – Delegates in this committee will innovate solutions for mitigating unlawful police behavior in Brazilian favelas, focusing specifically on civilian killings without the sanction of judicial proceeding. Reducing these “extrajudicial” killings is of the utmost importance, since they not only affect victim’s families, but also poison the police force’s relationship with local communities.

Spending Cuts to Address Recession – In the wake of the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff and the massive corruption scandal that contributed to her downfall, the Brazilian Presidential Cabinet will be discussing new President Michel Temer’s proposals to cut government spending and reduce the federal deficit. Delegates in this committee are tasked with developing innovative solutions to Brazil’s deep economic recession, whether it be through attracting private investment, shrinking the size of the state, or diversifying the economy.

Historical Committee

Panamanian Secession – Delegates in the Historical Committee will discuss Panama’s declared secession from Columbia in 1903. As they go back in time, delegates, who will be representing key officials from Panama, Columbia, and the Untied States, will be tasked with thinking through the implications of secession and finding innovative ways to create a feasible compromise between the Panamanians, Columbians, and Americans.

Organization of American States (OAS)

Recreational Drug Usage – The OAS Committee will be looking at the political, economic, public health and public safety implications of various approaches to combatting illicit drug usage and smuggling throughout Latin America. Delegates in this committee will carefully weigh the costs and benefits of the different policy options presented in the briefing in order to craft a recommendation for member states to implement domestically.

Militarization of Police – Delegates of the OAS will have to weigh both sides of the arguments for and against making the police forces of countries more like their militaries. With many countries pushing for the militarization of police as a means to reduce crime and others fearing it may allow for the consolidation of power, many views will need to be considered as all delegates try to make a plan for the future.

Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS)

Sheldon v. Texas – Delegates of the Supreme Court will look at a case against the state of Texas in which the appellant, John Sheldon, claims that the new congressional district boundaries set by Texas following the 2010 census violates the Constitution under the Equal Protection Clause, with the reason that his vote was more diluted than those in the other 35 congressional districts in Texas. In looking at this case, delegates of the Supreme Court will explore differing interpretations of the Equal Protection Clause of the United Stated Constitution, as well as the notion of "one person, one vote."   

United States v. Apple – Delegates of the Supreme Court will examine a case in which the United States government sues Apple, Inc, the California technology giant, arguing that the company has not provided sufficient assistance to the FBI in unlocking the iPhone of a suspected terrorist. In examining the case, Delegates will explore the power of the ll Writs Act of 1789, Apple Inc.'s Fifth Amendment rights, as well as the company's right to freedom of speech.

Union of South American Nations (UNASUR)

Informal Employment – Delegates of UNASUR will examine the problem of informal employment: economic activities that operate outside the formal reach of the law or those that, while operating within the formal reach of the law, are not subject to application or enforcement of the law in practice. Delegates will explore which actions UNASUR should take in order to support workers' rights against the backdrop of extreme rates of informal employment in some Latin American states.

Venezuelan Economic Crisis –Delegates of UNASUR will examine the economic crisis in Venezuela following global decreases in the price of petroleum. Effects of economic issues in the country have produced massive shortages of food, medicine, and household goods and led to spikes in violence, crime, and black market sales. Many middle- and lower-class Venezuelans are hungry and remain untreated for diseases and illnesses ordinarily cured by available medicine. Delegates will explore actions UNASUR should take to aid the country in recovering from this crippling economic crisis.

United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UNCECLAC)

Economic Transitions – The focus of this committee will be tackling the problem of commodity dependence in Latin American economies. Delegates will have to find new sources of investment and economic growth while working around the political challenges of asking nations to cut back. By the end, delegates will have to form a concrete plan for the future of Latin America and ensure that UNECLAC’s members won’t succumb to another economic disaster.

Economic Ramifications of the Olympics – Delegates in the UNCECLAC will need to cooperate to resolve outstanding economic issues that arose as a result of the Olympics being held in Brazil. Namely, they will need to consider how they can best set Brazil up for economic success in the upcoming years given the current state of the economy.

United Nations Security Council (UNSC)

Turmoil in Somalia – Delegates in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) are tasked with crafting resolutions that shape the United Nations’ policies towards Somalia, a fragile state along the Horn of Africa that is plagued by conflict, extremism, and poverty. Many argue that, from a humanitarian perspective, the United Nations has a moral obligation to act – to save lives and restore some semblance of economic opportunity for the people of Somalia; others argue that instability in Somalia provides a haven for terrorism and militant activity that poses a threat to the entire global community. Considering the UN’s various goals in the region, the UNSC should respond to this situation with prompt, decisive, and carefully chosen policy actions.

Cybersecurity – With the integration of technology into every day life, and the integration of the internet into the most vital systems of much of the world’s most important economic and societal infrastructure, there are growing concerns that attacks through electronic means may cause massive disruptions to the lives of people around the globe and to entire countries’ economies and militaries if they are not protected against. Members of the UNSC will be tasked to determine how to best implement increased cybersecurity on a multinational level.  

United States Presidential Cabinet

The United States Presidential Cabinet will not have a briefing for delegates to consider, but delegates will need to thoroughly research their roles for the conference.

World Health Organization (WHO)

Insulating Healthcare from Recessions – Delegates must balance the present needs with future security as they consider how to best utilize healthcare funds to create sustainable healthcare systems that both help keep populations as healthy as they can be today and also will survive massive economic shocks as have been seen in the last few decades.

Clean Drinking Water – Delegates in this committee will grapple with long-standing and deep-seated issues surrounding water infrastructure and regulation. Recent water crises in Flint, Michigan and elsewhere have highlighted the pressing need for reform in how we handle drinking water in the United States, and it will be up to the delegates to ensure access to clean water for all Americans for generations to come.