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Two Years After Guinn’s Death, Students Work to Protect Scholarship

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(Photo- from state source) The Millennium Scholarship is viewed as Kenny Guinn's legacy from his time as Governor of Nevada

(Photo- from state source) The Millennium Scholarship is viewed as Kenny Guinn’s legacy from his time as Governor of Nevada

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(LAS VEGAS CBS KXNT)  Nevada’s Millennium Scholarship has been widely-hailed as a tool for boosting promising students, and for keeping them in the state during and after their college years.  It’s also well-recognized as the legacy of the late former Republican Governor Kenny Guinn, who died suddenly two years ago this week.

But the Millennium Scholarship fund  has floundered since its inception, as the State Tobacco Settlement money that feeds it has shrunk.  Each legislative session has seen bills designed to tighten eligibility, in hope of lining up demand and supply.

Now, a group of students appointed as youth legislators plan to carry a bill to Carson City next year, proposing constitutional protection from any use except education for the Millennium Scholarship.

The students were dismayed to see the legislature sweep dollars from the fund to plug budget holes, Senator Valerie Wiener told KXNT.

“They were very articulate about it,” Wiener said.

Wiener was instrumental in creating the Youth Legislature program, in which one young person from each state senate district is selected to serve.  The group gets to submit one bill at each legislative session.

The youth legislators went through a review process where each member submitted an idea. The winning proposal was an amendment to the state constitution, protecting the Millennium Scholarship.  If approved by the legislature in 2013 and again 2015, it would proceed to the voters  before being incorporated into the state constitution.

The final draft of the bill inlcudes both the Governor Guinn Millennium Scholarship in the state budget,  and the Kenny C. Guinn Memorial Millennium Scholarship fund, which was created after Guinn’s death to receive donations.  The memorial scholarship is awarded to one high school senior each year.

Early supporters of a constitutional amendment include Guinn’s widow, Dema Guinn, and his sister, both of whom expressed support as the bill was in development, Wiener told KXNT.

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