Student Bar Association passes bills approving funding, clarifying oaths of office

Media Credit: Connor Witschonke | Staff Photographer

Student Bar Association senators passed a piece of legislation streamlining the body's appointment process at the group's final regular meeting of the semester.

The Student Bar Association passed several bills concerning law student organizations and the association itself at its final meeting of the semester Tuesday.

Senators approved three bills to clarify the language of oaths for officers, regulate when bills can be introduced before meetings and streamline the process of appointments to the SBA. Alice Danelia, a deputy vice president of finance, read a statement for Vice President of Finance Aaron Parnas announcing that an independent commission is being formed to review the senate’s finance policies.

“The finance branch is committed to ensuring that the senate receives the information required per the SBA’s finance policies and, to that end, has established the most transparent relationship this governing body has seen,” Danelia said.

She said the commission will be composed of members of the SBA’s finance committee and will “renew and edit” the SBA’s finance policies.

The senate unanimously approved a bill to clarify the language constituting the oaths executive officials, senators and judges take upon entering office and the oath senators take before participating in an impeachment hearing.

“The language is based on what judges and legislatures do,” SBA Sen. Ben Smith said. “This is simply to avoid a snafu.”

The senate passed the Townsend Timeliness Act, which requires any bill not introduced by 12 p.m. on the Friday before a senate meeting to be approved by a two-thirds majority vote to go into effect. Smith said the act refers to Executive Vice President Amanda Townsend’s emphasis on submitting bills with enough time in advance for senators to review them before a meeting.

“It’s creating a firm bylaw based on her rule that we get bills in by noon on Friday,” he said.

The senate also unanimously approved a bill, the Streamlining Appointments Act, to reduce the amount of time required – from one week to four days – for the appointments committee to provide information about a candidate nominated for a position before the full senate considers the nomination.

The senate rejected a bill that would have required additional information about student organizations’ funding requests, like the purpose of the request and the original amount requested, to appear on bills. SBA Sen. Andrew Trinker said the bill would cause information only seen by the finance committee to be shared with the full senate.

“This bylaw would essentially be a stopgap until the commission returns a conclusion on how to best update the financial policy,” he said.

SBA Sen. Ravi Shah said he was concerned that the bill would be “passed but never followed,” adding that senators should wait to act until the independent commission issues its recommendations.

“I think the only way of achieving the goal is deferring to this commission and making sure the rules are enacted properly, and everything’s thought out,” he said.

The senate also voted to provide funding to several student organizations, including the Muslim Law Student Association, and reimbursed an MLSA member for a previous purchase at an organization event.

Trinker questioned if the senate was “double-reimbursing” the student organization by transferring the organization’s treasurer, Maria Yousef, about $75 for food and drinks while granting the organization funding through two separate acts. SBA Sen. Jordan Jean said the two acts concern separate issues and would not be “double-dipping in the pot.”

“This is an act of good faith, that the senate trusts its student organizations, that the senate trusts its treasurers and presidents of its student organizations and that we want to continue to work for those student organizations,” Jean said.

Chief of Staff Jordan Hare announced at the meeting that SBA Sen. Andrew Palmer resigned and a special election to replace him will be held next semester.

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