Legislative Update [July 9, 2010 Edition]

Nothing new in legislation this past week, but one item was vetoed and the House sent it back to committee. Let’s mark that with…pink. If it becomes a regular occurrence, I guess I’ll update my little key below.

As I said earlier in the week, this passed on June 4 but wasn’t vetoed until June 24, the day Boca Governor Allison Gentry received it. This led to a debate in the House among SG leadership last Friday.  The governor and Student Body President Ayden Maher felt a veto was necessary, while one of the bill’s authors called FAU policy unconstitutional. The other author, along with the Speaker of the House, tried to mediate.

Let’s start with what Gentry said about why she vetoed it:

I vetoed this because I think it needs to go to committee. People seemed kind of confused and just kind of frustrated when it came up a second time. I know people admitted they just wanted to get out of here. Also, just the whole clause about YAF is very vague, and doesn’t really prove anything. I don’t think the average student reading this bill would get anything.

The vague clause about Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) is the second one. It makes some strong declarations without explaining what actually happened, saying the group’s speech was “discriminated against” and their rights were violated.

As Gentry says, the average student who had only this bill in front of them wouldn’t understand the March 3 situation referenced there. The only real accounting of that situation was done here, in a press release that quotes House Secretary and bill co-author James Shackelford — after misspelling his name in the first instance.

Gentry, who isn’t an average student, was aware of the account. She said calling it a First Amendment violation is “kind of situational and a stretch” since YAF didn’t follow university procedures for reserving the room, as any student group would be expected to do.

Shackelford argued that the resolution was clear enough:

This resolution is not hard to understand. It explains what it is. I would hope everyone at the college level would understand their First Amendment rights. I don’t find how this is confusing. It is the responsibility of our hired officials to defend our constitutional rights. I’m very disappointed to see it in vetoed business.

You can brush up on your First Amendment rights here, but that won’t explain YAF at FAU. Because Shackelford brushed over that part, Gentry thought he was calling FAU’s policies on how student organizations run were unconstitutional: “Are you saying that regulation 4.006 and COSO and the rules and policies they have are unconstitutional?”

Shackelford paused, and then said yeah: “There are some things at this university that are unconstitutional. 4.006 has its good and has its bad. But I always suggest that if it’s too vague to the average person, it needs to be revised.”

The bill’s other co-author, Boris Bastidas, also waded into the argument. He said the House had already been over this the first time the bill came up, and they passed it.

“A lot of you had concerns with the YAF portion. I mentioned that me and the co-author had some discussions and disagreements and that [the YAF clause] would get away from the part dealing with the UP,” said Bastidas. “But there’s something called compromise.”

“There were a lot of questions that were asked and then we went to a vote. Some of the folks who questioned the bill voted for it. But the House passed it,” he added.

House Speaker Josh Pollock was one of those people who originally questioned the bill before voting for it, and he said something similar:

I was very outspoken against this bill, but I also voted for it. I thought the language was too harsh and YAF didn’t belong in the bill. But I voted for this bill because I believe in free speech. You don’t have to vote against something just because you disagree with certain parts of it.

Ultimately, the bill was sent back to committees for further review. But Bastidas had complaints about how long the process takes, and the way statutes were interpreted to justify the delay. He said, “So much damn delay since I’ve been here. I don’t care who it is, I’m just tired of delays.”

On that note, he said he would be contacting Chief Justice Mike Burdman to organize an official proclamation of the student court’s interpretation of the statute discussed Monday.

That’ll happen next Tuesday, July 20 at 4 p.m. in his Student Union office. From Burdman’s announcement of the meeting:

At this time the court feels that an official hearing is not required for this matter; however a meeting of the court is required to make an official interpretation of the statutes and to resolve this matter in a way that would prohibit it from reoccurring again.

You can read Bastidas’ petition for an official ruling on the legality of the veto and the interpretation of the statutes here.


2 Responses to “Legislative Update [July 9, 2010 Edition]”

  1. What is constitutional about regulation 4.006??

    “Senior Vice President for Student Affairs may approve all other Student Government internal procedures on behalf of the Board of Trustees, other than Student Government’s constitution.”

    Who then represents the students?? Why is it that the House, the Governor, the SG President can approve something, just to be vetoed by the Vice President of Student Affairs.

    Its funny that the Bill on Free Speech must be approved by a non-fau student to hold merit. Irony at its best.

  2. Brandon, your detailed coverage of the House meeting is outstanding as always. I hope this blog is preserved through the years as an outside record of what goes on (besides official documents and minutes of course).

    Keep up the great work!

    Nicholas Scalice

    Speaker Pro Tempore
    Boca Raton House of Representatives
    FAU Student Government

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