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Senate stifles code revisions

Nov. 30, 2010

By Sara Tirrito
Staff Writer

A bill containing revisions to the electoral code was rejected when it was brought before the Student Senate at its Nov. 18 meeting.

The bill was the first of a three-part series of bills to revise the electoral code, but was the second bill dealing with the topic to be rejected in the last month.

Sugar Land sophomore and senator Cody Orr presented the bill at the Nov. 18 meeting.

"All the revisions we were trying to make were subject to debate, and though most of the revisions -- I would say the vast majority of the revisions -- were pretty noncontroversial, there was still discussion about a lot of topics," Orr said, "and just the fact that there was still more discussion that could go on I believe was the reason that a lot of senators wanted to vote down this version and wait for a new bill that had more time for everyone to think about and consider."

Student Senate president Michael Lyssy said he was surprised by the amount of concern senators expressed when the bill was brought forth because it was expected to be a more acceptable version of the original bill presented earlier this month.

"The bill they brought two weeks ago was supposed to be a little bit more acceptable, a little bit less controversial, a little bit more specific in the changes that they wanted to make and not so broad, so I was surprised that there was so much concern," Lyssy said. "It still seemed like the bill was too broad."

Electoral commissioner and Houston junior Gregg Ortiz said he was also surprised by how much controversy remained pertaining to the bill.

"I think overall it's less controversial, but it is one part of a whole and I know that I walked in there, and the [operations and procedures committee] walked in there, on that Thursday thinking this was either going to pass or fail with little disagreement, but it turned out that there was more content that the senate identified with and that they thought needed more attention than we previously thought," Ortiz said. "It certainly surprised me how controversial it ended up being."

One of the main sources of debate was a portion of the bill dealing with the process of choosing the electoral commission, Orr said.

Other sources of debate included a clause pertaining to candidates' nicknames and changes to campaign expenditures limitations, said Fort Worth senior Daniel Houston, president pro tempore of the Student Senate and chairman of the operations and procedures committee.

However, Houston said those topics are not as central to the bill as other provisions and they may be dropped or compromised in order to help more necessary provisions pass.

"As of right now, I'm focusing on making sure that the more central provisions in the set of changes that the operations and procedures committee has suggested are presented before senate in a form that will pass," Houston said. "Some of the more controversial aspects to date, up to this point, have not been centered around those ... they've centered around sort of marginal issues that were not terribly important to the committee that we are willing to compromise on to get the rest of the bill passed."

Orr said having the bill voted down was positive in the sense that now there will be more time to improve it with the help of more senators.

"I would have liked to have seen it passed when it was brought up the first time," Orr said, "and even though it has been temporarily voted down, I believe that this provides an opportunity for more senators to get involved in the process and eventually the final bill will probably be much better than what we had before."

Corpus Christi junior senator Angela Gray, chair of the campus improvement committee, said she thought it was wise the senate rejected the bill because more discussion is needed.

"Electoral codes shape the future of the structure of student government and how the whole body functions," Gray said. "It's something that all of student government needs to be a part of deliberating and shaping -- how the whole body's going to function from here on out."

Student Senate's last meeting of the semester will be Thursday night. Houston said another bill could be brought before the senate at that meeting.