The number of bills that have appeared on the Senate floor this semester pales in comparison to the Spring semester.
Last Spring, SG passed 19 bills — at least 11 of which were resolutions. This semester, SG passed less than half of that. Seven bills were approved in the Senate chamber since September: three of which were resolutions.
The chamber lacked its typical liveliness this semester as debate ceased to exist and senators got to call it a night within an hour of establishing quorum for several meetings. Gator senators called “previous question,” or a motion to end debate, at any spark of conversation.
As many as six Senate meetings did not take place this semester, along with at least four Judiciary Committee meetings due to senators declining to submit legislation or failing to meet quorum.
The bills passed include a resolution recognizing the COVID-19 crisis in South Asia; the Senate Reapportionment Act, which decides how many seats election districts receive in the Senate; and the Honor Code Administration Independence Act, which takes away the Senate’s power to approve vice chairs in the agency by a two-thirds vote.
Senate also passed two revisions to the 800 codes. One keeps student organizations from using SG funds to pay dues to national organizations or items that are unapproved by UF for P-card transactions. The other makes available semester funds carry over only to the next corresponding semester.
Senator Oscar Santiago (Change, District D) wrote in an email that much of the work some members of SG accomplish take place behind the scenes.
Change senators have met with or plan to meet with departments such as the Field and Fork Pantry to discuss expansion, Nightlife Navigators to bring back the Later Gator bus route, and Internal Affairs to expand mental health services on campus, Minority Party Gabrielle Adekunle (Change, District D) wrote in an email.
Change Party has not authored any passed legislation since the Fall elections when 12 minority party senators won seats in the chamber. However, Change Party currently has four bills set to be reviewed by the Judiciary Committee. Santiago authored three of those himself.
The bills include a resolution supporting funding for 24-hour libraries, an amendment that would allow people to sign up for public comment up until 5 p.m. the day of a Senate meeting as opposed to the night before, and another amendment that would allow anyone who isn’t an SG official to sponsor a bill.
Senator Daniel DiBari (Gator, District A) authored a resolution demanding an expansion of plane travel to and out of Gainesville and Deputy Minority Party Leader Faith Corbett (Change, District D) authored a resolution condemning the sexual assault that occurred in the Reitz Union Oct. 23.
The Judiciary Committee will review the bills and when passed to the Senate floor, it is most likely that the resolutions regarding expanding air travel, supporting funding for 24-hour libraries and condemning the sexual assault in the Reitz will pass. These topics are generally bipartisan in the chamber.
It is unclear how senators will vote on Santiago’s proposed amendments focusing on bill sponsorships and public comment.
“There are so many ideas and initiatives that I and our other Change Senators constantly have in the back of our minds or are actively working on at all times,” Adekunle wrote. “This semester alone was not enough time to be able to accomplish all that we want.”
Senate Pro-Tempore Noah Fineberg (Gator, District A) is thrilled with the work SG has completed over the past several months. Some projects include allocating an additional $500,000 to student organizations, expanding the size of the RecSports weight room, providing free engineering paper, index cards and graph paper to all students, along with starting the Stay Fresh Laundry Grant Initiative.
Students bring many issues to the attention of SG, Fineberg wrote, but oftentimes those problems are out of the scope of the Senate’s power in terms of policies.
While Fineberg feels satisfied with the amount of work SG has accomplished, Santiago does not.
“I feel as though more can be done,” Santiago wrote. “In the Spring, I hope to work with our caucus to write even more pieces of legislation, fighting for the causes we campaigned on.”
Contact Allessandra at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @ainzinna.
Allessandra is a third-year journalism major with a minor in English. In the past, she has covered local musicians and the cannabis industry. She is now the Student Government reporter for The Alligator. Allessandra paints and plays guitar in her free time.