Controversial veto causes dissent in SGA
A bill that was passed Aug. 25 and vetoed by SGA President Kenneth Fomunung two weeks ago was the subject of a heated discussion during Wednesday’s Student Government Association Senate meeting.
The bill, SGAB46005, written by CLASS Sen. Taylor Kilroy and SGA Speaker Kyrie Ruiz, calls to establish a ‘more fiscally responsible student government’ and for transparency when dealing with SGA money.
The bill would require that all donations – ‘any SGA money that is given to support a cause, event, charity, etc.’ – be approved by a majority vote of the senators present and voting. It also would require all expenditures’ of more than’ $250 to be presented in writing to the Internal Affairs Committee with at least two bids for the services provided.
The bill would not allow the committee to approve or deny any purchases.
‘All this bill does is it lets the Senate know what the money is being spent on,’ Kilroy said.
Although the bill was passed in the summer, Kilroy and Ruiz brought the bill up to the Senate, because they said the veto by Fomunung was illegitimate and unconstitutional.
Under the SGA’s constitution, the president has veto powers within 15 days of legislation being passed.
‘If no action is taken by the president of the Student Government Association within (15) class days, the legislation shall automatically become law without his or her signature.’
Ruiz, one of the authors of the bill, said that under the constitution, the veto is illegitimate and should not stand. Yet Fomunung said his veto should stand because he did not receive the bill until two weeks ago.
Much of the argument is that Fomunung said he was not presented the bill until October, but Ruiz said that he had a copy of the bill given to him the day of the meeting. Ruiz said she also sent Fomunung a copy via e-mail.
Fomunung said he did not consider being given a copy of the bill during a meeting an actual presentation of the bill.
‘They have all been presented to him the same way. That is the way I have been doing it with him, until a couple of weeks ago when he said to start printing the bills and signing them. I have been doing that ever since he said it,’ Ruiz said.
Former SGA Speaker Alexander Obregon said that all the bills he presented to Fomunung were given to him during the meetings, so he does not understand why Fomunung vetoed only this bill.
‘I never presented him the legislation any other way,’ Obregon said. ‘You can’t pick and choose which pieces of legislation you want to veto; you either veto all of them or none of them. It is unconstitutional. He can’t veto it; he can claim that the legislation was invalid and argue that, but by vetoing he is breaking the constitution. He violated the constitution, point blank.’
Under the SGA constitution, it is not specified how legislation should be presented to the president.
‘That is the issue that we are having, if this bill is legitimate, because as the constitution stands, (it) does not specify how it has to be presented,’ Ruiz said.
Ruiz said that if Fomunung’s reason for vetoing this bill is because he did not like the way the bills have been presented to him, then he should have vetoed every bill presented to him since he took office.
Fomunung said he vetoed the bill because he did not like it. He said it was too vague, and he had a problem with the final point of the bill, which states, ‘This legislation shall take effect immediately after passage.’
CLASS Sen. Mary Martin said it has been the SGA’s precedent to end bills this way.
After much discussion, senators voted to hold the veto, but later decided to let the University Hearing Board decide if the way Fomunung was presented the bill was acceptable.
If the board decides Fomunung being given a copy of the bill during the meeting was a proper presentation, then the bill will be made into law. No date has been given as to when the board will hear the case.