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Student Government legislation goes missing

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Associate justices, legislation approved at Student Goverment's second meeting
Student senators listen during the president's report.
Photo by Jakob Rodriguez | Senior News Reporter

The Texas State Student Government’s website shows 23 pieces of passed legislation, the president said the organization has passed double that amount, but members of senate and the president will not provide the full list.

During the presidential and vice presidential candidate debate hosted Feb. 12 by The University Star, candidates were questioned about the legislative efforts throughout the 2017-18 academic year under former Student Government President Connor Clegg, who was impeached April 16, and Vice President Jackie Merritt.

Brooklyn Boreing, current president-elect, Elijah Miller and Preston Nieves, senators and former candidates said they do not know what happened to the legislation they worked on and passed during the year.

Boreing, Miller and Nieves said during individual phone interviews they believe implementation of legislation falls on the executive branch.

Nieves said policy tends to get lost after it gets to the president’s desk. Nieves wrote the Legislative Transparency Act, passed Sept. 18, which was sponsored by Miller and two other senators.

The act is not in effect despite passing during the fall semester. According to the act, Chief of Staff Alec Garza is responsible for updating the website with new legislation and provide a timeline for legislation in process to implementation.

“The only explanation I can think of is that maybe it’s not a personal priority, there’s some laziness or worst-case scenario, maybe people don’t want transparency because it would threaten their power and position within Student Government,” Nieves said.

Garza said the delay of implementing the Transparency act has little to do with the amount of responsibility put on him.

“We’re the most active senate that we’ve seen and legislation is being passed constantly and it often gets lost with the higher ups,” Garza said. “Updating the website is not too much to do, the problem is just waiting to get the legislation back to us. We have been working on some updates that should be done before the close of this administration.”

Clegg did not veto the Legislative Transparency Act and confirmed the organization passed approximately 40 acts since he took office. However, Clegg has not provided the list to The Star and has not responded to multiple requests for the full list.

Once the Senate votes on and passes an act, it is sent to Kathryn Weiser, assistant dean of students and adviser to Student Government. Weiser looks over the document for grammar and punctuation errors. Once the piece has been checked, it is sent back to the Student Government president who writes a memo expressing his thoughts.

The president has five days to veto legislation. If the president does not veto, he writes another memo to Weiser, who forwards it to the Dean of Students. The Dean of Students then sends it to the vice president of Student Affairs, who sends it to the vice president of the departments the policy pertains to.

The timeframe of each piece is different, as each one calls for different actions in different departments.

“The (Student Government) president should know which pieces have been put into effect, the things that they wanted to see changed or improved,” Wieser said. “It’s really Student Government as (it is) making the recommendations to see that come through.”

When asked for updates on the pieces, Clegg said he did not know where they were because there were too many to keep track of. Clegg said there are obstacles in the way of implementing each act.

“It’s a slow bureaucratic process, but we’re working within our means,” Clegg said. “There are constraints because we’re students, and as much as I’d like to dedicate all my time in one way or another, I do have to sleep.”

The Star submitted a public information request for the list Clegg said was 40 pieces long in an effort to collect the accurate number of passed resolutions from the Clegg-Merritt administration.

The request was sent March 4 and The Star received a list of five pieces of legislation March 25. According to the Office of General Council, these five pieces are the full list of legislative acts that have made it to the administration meaning there is a possibility only five of the 40 passed pieces have been presented to the office to be implemented.

The Star cannot accurately confirm legislation including the Legislative Transparency Act, The Diversity Liaison Act and others have been put in place to be enacted. Since the pieces have not been vetoed, according to Clegg, they should all be available for the administration to approve and enact, but without the full list, advisers for Student Government have not been able to confirm.

The missing legislation has left senators frustrated and concerned. Miller co-authored the Diversity Liason Act, which he said passed by a close vote. Miller said there only needs to be a senator appointed to the position to get the act implemented.

“There’s no obstacle to appointing a liaison,” Miller said. “Its free to appoint someone to the senate and it’s free to have them go these meetings and it’s free to have them report back to the senate.”

When asked, Clegg said this piece was one he did not veto and had kept track of, but did not plan to implement while he was in office. Clegg said he believes the duty of a liaison should be filled by all of his senators and assumes the next administration will address it.

President-elect Boreing said she has asked Clegg on multiple occasions about the legislation she sponsored but was told they were held up by the administration. Boreing supported the Affirmation Act for Bobcats Living with Disabilities, Open Textbook Resolution and the Constituent Outreach Act. These acts were not found when The Star requested information from the Office of General Council.

Requests to interview the adviser and the administration were referred to Clegg. The duty of tracking legislation is on the president according to legislation.

News Reporter Evelin Garcia contributed information to this story.

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