Bills, resolutions up for first reads at SGA meeting
The second Student Government Association meeting of the 56th Administration saw first reads of six bills in addition to eight appointments.
Of the six bills read, five were internal bills and the sixth is a resolution supporting increased accessibility for the Cougar Ride program, which transports students wherever they need to be on campus from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. seven days a week.
“This is something Every Coog actually ran on, and I thought it was a really cool idea,” said SGA President Allison Lawrence. “I talked to Auxiliary Services about it to see if we could get disability access for students for Cougar Ride, and they didn’t realize this was an issue. They got working on it, and now there’s one vehicle that has disability access.”
The support of increased accessibility shows the administration is acting on one their promises, outlined in their Executive Agenda, to “upgrade facilities for individuals with disabilities.” The current plan, outlined during the meeting, is to keep track of how frequently the car with the wheelchair accessible ramp is used and upgrade the other shuttles if needed.
“This is just a resolution to say we’re in support of them working on it,” said Kaden Lewis, the new speaker of the Seante pro tempore. “They’ve already started working on it, we just want them to expand the access to all of the Cougar Ride shuttles.”
The other five bills, all read for the first time, are adjustments and amendments to the way SGA has been run in the past.
The Appointment Transparency Act, co-authored by Attorney General Sakethram Desabhotla, follows the controversy that arose after the chief election commissioner was appointed earlier than normal and without posting the position on Get Involved or allowing opponents the chance to apply. The act aims to explicitly state that the attorney general must appoint the chief election commissioner through a formal election process.
“We also want to make sure there is a formal application process for all appointments,” said new Student Life Chair Jasmine Khademakbari. “That means having an application on Get Involved for a minimum of five days and also making sure it’s open to the entire UH student body.”
The Electoral Justice and Fairness Bill could change the election code so those running for office who commit a Class C violation will first receive a warning before they are punished. The bill would also make sure that after three times of a repeat Class C or Class B offense, the violation would be bumped to the next level.
For example, if a candidate were to commit a Class B violation three times, the next violation would be a Class A offense.
“Class C violations, which are, by the way, the most minor violations, the first Class C violation mandated a warning from the attorney general, and the second one resulted in a 24 hour ban,” Desabhotla said. “I think this is extremely harsh because even for most Class B violations, I wouldn’t give people 24-hour bans.”
The Increasing Ballot Transparency Act offered a small change to the way the instructions could read during the next SGA election.
When voting for SGA elections, students use a rank-choice system, which lets them choose their candidates in order from most to least favorable. According to the act, many students ranked fewer candidates than there were seats available for grabs. This act would let voters know exactly how many seats are available.
The Volunteer Hours Adjustment Act would change when senators are required to serve their volunteer hours. Currently, the bylaws state new senators need to do four hours of community service the spring they begin and four more over the summer on top of the hours they serve during the fall and final spring of their term. This change would make it so senators do not need to serve their volunteer hours the spring they are elected nor over the summer.
The final piece of legislation that was presented during the meeting was the Administration and Finance Student Ambassador Establishment Resolution. The resolution states SGA’s support of a pilot program that will allow more students to serve on the Administration and Finance Committee.
“It’s an idea that we gave them about having Administration and Finance ambassadors just to have more student representation in Administration and Finance,” Lawrence said. “The goal behind that was to have smooth communication between students and between the department.”
The appointments for committees and speaker pro tempore, or backup speaker of the Senate, were all approved. Those appointed included former president Cameron Barrett as the chair for the Graduate and Professional Students Committee, along with the re-election of Tomas Bryan as chair of the Administration and Finance Committee.
More committee chair appointments were made, including Lewis to Internal Affairs along with Khademakbari to Student Life. Aidan Potts was also appointed chair of the Senate’s Academic Affairs Committee. Lastly, Kaitlyn E. Austgen was voted in as a CLASS senator, and Ethan Smith now serves on the A.D. Bruce Religion Center Committee.
The bills read for the first time during the meeting will be brought back to vote or be read for the second time during the next meeting. The students appointed to committees and as a senator can begin their terms.