The first of three bills authored by Senator Cameron Doelling focused on solidifying member attendance requirements at internal committee meetings.
Currently, the Senate Bylaws state that the chairperson of each standing committee shall be responsible for documenting the work of the committee, including attendance records, but does not explicitly state the number of allowable absences before a committee member must be removed.
“The chairs had a lot of discretion over attendance,” Doelling said of the current bylaws.
Bill No. 4224 would require members to miss no more than 25 percent of internal committee meetings, “with approximately one-third of those absences unexcused and two-thirds excused absences.”
“Once they rack up enough absences, they’re gone,” Andrew Olson, Speaker Pro Temp, said of the new guidelines.
During discussion, the question of what constituted an excused absence arose. It was realized that there are no set distinctions, and an excused absence only required a notification in writing prior to the absence, according to Olson.
The bill has been sent to the External Affairs committee where committee chair, Lexie Evans, hopes to work on the wording of the bill to resolve these initial miscommunications.
Senate office hours were also discussed at last night’s meeting.
Senators are required to hold three weekly office hours to make themselves available to their constituency, but there is currently no method of maintaining accountability.
“The point [of office hours] is to give constituents a place to speak with them if they wish,” said Doelling.
Bill No. 4225 would create an Accountability Task Force made up of five permanent senate members and five volunteers whose mission would be to track and maintain office hour accountability. The first act would be implementing a sign-in and sign-out sheet to track when senators arrive at the office.
Senators were concerned that requiring members to spend their office hours in the ASCSU office limited their usefulness, especially now that renovations of the LSC have forced them to move to the MAC gym.
“With us moving to the MAC gym, it will be impossible getting people to come to us,” said Evans.
Both bills may influence senate retention rate, because senate bylaws require members to actively participate in internal committees and hold weekly office hours. Members not in compliance may be impeached, although the consequences of these bills remain unclear.
“I think they just wanted to put numbers on it,” said Evans of last evening’s legislation.
Collegian writer Isabella Heepke can be reached email@example.com.