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Senate rejects bill outgoing SGA president initiates on creating House of Representatives

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SGA debated two funding requests

SGA debated two funding requests

SGA debated two funding requests

Amanda Gonzalez

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The Student Government senate rejected a bill proposed by the student body president and SGA leadership that would have attempted to change how funding requests are handled. The bill failed this time, but will likely resurface next year.

After receiving backlash from club presidents, SGA President Ben Griffith and External Affairs Director Jace De Leon brainstormed legislation that would give these clubs more of a say in the funding request process. Griffith and De Leon proposed SB 22 “Growth in Student Representation, Participation and Engagement” at the final formal senate meeting of the year on April 26.

This bill aimed to create a new legislative body comprised of club leadership to help alleviate “the challenges” in efficiency associated with the funding request process and would give student organizations more of a say in creating resolutions, per the bill text.

Student senators have taken on the role of distributing monies to various clubs and organizations for events this first academic year without the Recognized Organizations Council.

The bill would have required all student organizations to submit funding requests by the third week of the semester, so that the House of Representatives can divide the funds more adequately. This school year, there were funding requests happening well into each semester, which resulted in a tighter budget as the semesters progressed. Late funding requests would be deferred to the following semester.

Modeled after the actual House of Representatives, the bill proposed a House of Representatives with 30 elected members, representing various clubs on campus who are officially registered through CollegiateLink. These members will select a Speaker of the House and Secretary, who will need legislation approval from their counterparts in the senate.

“The number may seem like a lot initially, but in talking with Jace, we decided that was a good amount to make sure we were representing the university holistically,” Griffith said. “If it does need to be cut down, that’s OK.”

In the recent SGA elections, nine students ran for 12 senate seats, leaving vacancies for next year. When asked if organizing a legislative body of 30 club presidents seems feasible, Griffith said that if the number wasn’t met, an appointment process could be explored.

Upon opening the floor for questions, student senators had “a ton of questions,” as moderated by SGA Vice President Amanda Rodriguez. Some of the senate’s concerns ranged from legislation overlap between the two legislative bodies and logistically teaching the codes to new members.

Griffith and his cabinet reached out to the Student Government Associations from Texas Christian University, Texas State University, the University of the Incarnate Word, St. Mary’s University, Baylor University, Trinity University, as well as his former institution Louisiana State University, to use as a comparison for drafting this legislation.

Had the bill passed, it would have gone into effect at the start of the 2019-2020 academic year, giving next year’s administration time to modify and market seats for the new legislative body. Next year’s SGA President Joanna Ariola and Vice President Leslie Rios can choose to pick up where Griffith left off in trying to have this legislation pass.

“We agree. We think it’s a good idea,” Ariola said at the meeting to the senate, saying that she would want to take next year to conduct more research and create an transition binder for the next administration to avoid “throwing something brand new the way that funding requests were thrown at you all.”

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Senate rejects bill outgoing SGA president initiates on creating House of Representatives