North Texas Daily

SGA president vetoes transparency bill, citing technical errors

SGA president vetoes transparency bill, citing technical errors

SGA president vetoes transparency bill, citing technical errors
November 13
16:58 2020

Student Government Association President Michael Luecke released a memo Nov. 4 vetoing the bill to create the Office of the Inspector General, an independent auditing structure meant to ensure transparency and accountability.

The bill passed unanimously during the SGA Senate session the previous week and, if not vetoed, would have been presented to the student body for approval sometime during Homecoming Week. The president took the maximum allotted 14 days to review the constitutional amendment and released his memo on the last day.

“While the Senate would normally have the right to override a bill that was vetoed by the president, it wouldn’t be possible to do that with this bill because the referendum period had ended and the legislation could not be placed on a ballot for the student body to approve,” bill co-author Devon Skinner said. “Since the legislation has been vetoed, it cannot be voted on by the student body.”

Over the summer, President Luecke sent an email to the authors on July 15 expressing his support of the bill, Skinner said. The legislation’s co-author told the North Texas Daily “as the bill evolved,” the president sent an email on Aug. 31 retracting his support.

President Luecke’s memo read “please know that I am strictly vetoing [the bill] due to the errors within [its] constitutionality.”

The memo cited errors including grammatical errors and unnecessary clauses which would lead to an incomplete portion of the SGA constitution, SGA Vice President Cameron Combs said.

“President Luecke vetoed the bill because after taking time to review this constitutional amendment he noticed there were some errors in the verbiage used and how it was submitted,” Combs said. “The president and I have both talked to the bill authors about how adding this entity is a power that senators have. It wasn’t that we didn’t support the bill, the hesitation was centered on adding this entity that was a power of a specific group of members.”

These concerns were not brought up in a meeting with the bill’s co-authors and senior SGA executive staff prior to the legislation’s passing, Skinner said.

“We recognize that these are legitimate concerns,” Skinner said. “However, we wish that these concerns had been raised either in our meeting with senior executive staff or in the Senate meeting in which the bill was passed unanimously. This would ensure that the student body would have the ability to participate in the civic process of voting on this constitutional amendment that we believe would build trust between the SGA and the student body.”

Skinner and his fellow co-authors, College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Senator Grant Johnson, Honors College Senator Jermaine “JT” Turner, are reviewing options to ensure accountability “moving forward,” Skinner said.

Combs also spoke with the Daily about the administration’s accountability efforts.

“[A]s the Luecke/Combs administration we have been upfront about mistakes we have made and will continue to do so for the remainder of the school year,” Combs said. “The Luecke/Combs administration will continue to be transparent in all ways and next semester we will begin our tracking system for our initiatives.”

Skinner told the Daily that previously in this year’s Senate session, the president signed a bill regarding more transparency in senate meetings, written by David Munoz-Sarabia, College of Science Senator Secretary. The co-authors of the OIG bill aim to expand said transparency across SGA “[b]ecause transparency shouldn’t stop with the Senate,” Skinner said.

“I’m hoping that, whether the OIG is implemented, we as senators can still hold certain members of the SGA, who receive a paycheck through Student Service Fees, and other appointed positions, accountable,” Turner said.

Featured Image: SGA President Michael Luecke asks a question to new prospective senator who was not selected for the position on Feb. 13, 2020. Image by John Anderson

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Ileana Garnand

Ileana Garnand

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