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Saturday, June 15, 2024

Senate President signs bills condemning DEI attacks, budget reviews into effect

Senators share concerns about ongoing deadlock during public comment

<p>Senate President Oscar Santiago Perez (Change-District D) signed bills condemning attacks on higher education and creating a budget review act at the Senate meeting Tuesday, May 30, 2023. </p>

Senate President Oscar Santiago Perez (Change-District D) signed bills condemning attacks on higher education and creating a budget review act at the Senate meeting Tuesday, May 30, 2023.

Student Government Senate President Oscar Santiago Perez (Change-District D) signed bills condemning attacks on higher education and creating a budget review act at the SG Senate meeting May 30. 

Santiago Perez called the meeting to order at 7:04 p.m. — with 68 senators present — and ended at 8:03 p.m. 

The first signed bill condemns the passage of Florida Senate Bill 266, the previous attempts of House Bill 999, and its attacks on DEI and the freedoms of higher education in Florida. 

The second bill, the Budget and Appropriations Criteria of Review Act, creates a formal process for the Budget and Appropriations committee to review legislation where once signed, the bill immediately goes into effect.

Senators provided their committee reports during the announcement section to end the meeting. Judiciary Committee Chair Jonathan C. Stephens (Change-District D) also emphasized the deadline to submit new legislation to be considered, May 31. 

Senators and nominees addressed concerns and responses to previous meetings before the bills were signed into effect. 

Minority party leader Bronson Allemand urged senators to vote on candidates they truly believe are qualified, he said. 

“I want to ask you, how much longer are we going to continue to delay these [executive] nominations,” Allemand said. 

Majority Party Leader Simone Liang (Change-CLAS) expressed her disappointment with the statements made about Change Party and with the Gator Caucus failing to show up for the May 28 Replacement and Agenda Committee meeting. 

“Let me ask the Senate chamber: is it an abuse of procedure if you follow rule 12, one F, [of] the Senate rules and procedures?” Liang said. 

The rule Liang mentioned states the Senate may, when it considers the committee's recommendation, open the floor to nominations of other applicants with the support of the majority of the members present, she said.

“So according to your caucus, according to your party leader, Bronson Allemand, in his email,” Liang said, “It is an abuse of power for us to follow Senate procedures and nominate another individual with the legitimate majority.” 

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Senate pro-tempore president Nathan McGinnis (Change-Tolbert), was disappointed with the failure to meet quorum at the May 28 meeting and Allemand’s email that condemned Change Party for alleged abuse of power, he said. 

Liang and McGinnis noted after the Spring 2023 election cycle, Gator Party delayed senators from being sworn in as an example of an instance Gator did the same.  

Member-at-Large Isabel Ponce (Gator-Business) clarified the proceedings of her committee were because they feel their time has been wasted, she said. 

For the first Replacement and Agenda Committee meeting of the summer, she traveled a total of 17 hours only to come to Senate and see nominations cast aside, she said. 

“The purpose of the replacement in the judges committee is to find the best applicant for the job,” Ponce said. “That is what I traveled 17 hours to do, but unfortunately, did not happen.”

Johnny Liu (Gator-District C) took the time during public comment to speak on something more positive and exciting, he said. 

This weekend will be the Student Government Institute conference, an agency of the executive branch reapproved last senate meeting. SGI gives students the opportunity to learn about student government and leadership, Liu said.

Current staff applications for the SGI conference are open. 

Other senators reiterated their concerns and emphasized the need to work efficiently as representatives of the student body to close out public comment. 

Contact Vivienne at Follow her on Twitter @vivienneserret. 

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Vivienne Serret

Vivienne Serret is a UF journalism and criminology senior, writing as a columnist for Summer 2024. She previously reported for The Alligator's university desk as the student government reporter and was managing editor for The Florida Political Review. She loves debating, lifting at the gym and singing.

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