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Friday, February 23, 2018

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Senate appoints positions needed to run elections


Two bills were passed and President Winni Zhang announced the veto of five bills Wednesday in the SGA Senate Chamber. Necessary appointments to run the elections were also made at the first Senate meeting of the spring semester.

The two bills created a new graduate and professional student committee and an international Mother’s Language Day event. Political science senior Justin Truong was voted in as Attorney General, and third year finance student Chase Cummins was approved as Elections Commissioner.

Zhang vetoed five bills: the SGA Transparency Act, the Stipend Policy Readjustment Act, Social Media Professionality Act, the Townhall Act and the Reasonable Accommodations Act.

The first three of the five bills above were not delivered to Zhang within fifteen days, creating an automatic veto, she said. However, she said she would have vetoed them anyway.

The SGA Transparency Act was not a bill students asked for or needed, Zhang said.

“I actually went down and surveyed students in the Student Center as to whether or not they would care for line-by-line budget, most of the answers were no,” Zhang said. “It overflowed information for the student body, and not enough people click on the link already to see the SGA’s budget.”

Zhang said she would support to sign the Townhall Act if it came to her again. She vetoed it this time due to lack of research, stating winter and summer semesters in the bill which don’t exist, she said.

In recent years, some SGA presidents vetoed only one bill while in office, according to the SGA website.

Zhang stressed that the bills had incorrect formatting, such as not using the font Crimson, and they needed to be more in line with the standard for official University documents.

The Stipend Policy Readjustment Act didn’t do enough to close loopholes or punish SGA officers who pay acting appointments stipends only meant for confirmed appointments, Zhang said. 

Necessary appointments

No attorney general has been confirmed by the Senate for the entire 54th administration. The executive branch asked Truong last week to be the attorney general and began work Monday to look for an elections commissioner, he said. 

“It’s absolutely ridiculous that we waited this long for an attorney general,” Graduate at Large Sen. Cameron Barrett said. “We weren’t even notified he was being appointed until an hour ago.”

Zhang said the executive branch had trouble finding a permanent attorney general. 

“Winter break came over, Thanksgiving, finals, no one was applying for this position or interested in the position,” Zhang said. “At this point, we were asking people.”

Truong said he spent all day Wednesday to finally decide he was going to appoint Cummins to be Elections Commissioner after receiving a recommendation to appoint him that morning.

There was debate in the Senate whether or not Zhang could appoint an Elections Commissioner on Truong’s behalf, since he could not speak or make motions the same night he was appointed.

It was decided after a short recess Zhang could appoint on his behalf, and Cummins was approved by the Senate. He was optimistic when asked whether or not he could set up and run an election in five weeks.

Now the search begins for two assistant elections commissioners, Cummins said, who also must be confirmed by the Senate.

New bills

The Graduate and Professional Student Senate Committee Act was passed, creating a new committee for graduate and professional student issues.

Barrett, the bill’s author, said the committee can have a lasting impact with more representation in the SGA for many graduate students who will come through the University.

“I hope this bill doesn’t get vetoed,” Barrett said before the Senate voted.

The Senate also passed the International Mother’s Language Day bill, and the event will be held annually in the spring. The first time it was held was spring 2016, according to author of the bill, Sen. Kim-Briana Lorine.

The event will have international foods and performances and will promote unity and cultural awareness, Lorine said.

Speaker leaves

Speaker of the Senate Fahad Rehan announced plans to resign on Friday. He accepted a position to work with U.S. Representative Al Green in Washington D.C.

In his closing remarks, Rehan asked senators to avoid getting complacent in their seats.

College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics Sen. Carlos Iniguez will be the temporary Speaker of the Senate before calling for another speaker election in the coming weeks.

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