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Monday, April 22, 2024

Student body president vetoes bills, former Communist Party leader files case

The vetoed bills had legal, technical and grammatical issues

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Student Body President Olivia Green reviewed 18 bills, approving 14 and vetoing four due to issues with legality, separation of powers or grammar. 

One of the four bills included the Graduate and Professional Student Summer Vacancy Requirements, which was vetoed due to a legality issue surrounding student enrollment. The bill sought to alleviate the Senate Summer enrollment requirement for all graduate and professional students as long as they enroll for the following Fall semester.

The next bill was the Indigenous Land Acknowledgement Act, which Green vetoed for its alleged inappropriate overreach by the Legislative Branch and appearing to violate the separation of powers. The bill sought to require the reading of an Indigenous Land Acknowledgement before some Executive and Judicial Branch events.

Green also vetoed the Accountability Law For Regulating Election Disruption and Oppression “ALFREDO” Act for its potential to infringe on the First Amendment rights of the student body. The bill sought to eliminate possible threats, coercion or intimidation throughout the election period — the UF Supreme Court may disqualify the offending candidate or political party.

Green vetoed the Budget Online Resources Accessibility Act due to a grammatical error within the bill. The bill sought to require the Budget and Appropriations Committee to routinely update the 800 Codes summary document for student organizations to utilize.

“I wholeheartedly agree with the contents of this bill and look forward to this bill being resubmitted, passed and approved,” Green wrote. “Other than [the error] I support Student Senate Bill 2023-1067 and look forward to signing it once reintroduced.” 

Not long after the vetoes were submitted, former Progressive and Communist Party leader Alfredo Ortiz sent an email to Green disagreeing with the exercise of her veto power over the ALFREDO Act. He plans to challenge it in the UF Supreme Court, he wrote. 

Ortiz first became involved in Student Government by authoring legislation to extend financial aid to survivors of Hurricane Maria, he said, and was presented with the opportunity to join the Senate as a Summer term replacement in 2019. 

“I proposed the original version of the act during my freshman year,” Ortiz wrote in his email to Green. “Like you, my friends and I experienced threats and intimidation for our decision to run as third-party candidates.” 

Ortiz also disagreed with Green’s concerns about the bill infringing on First Amendment rights, he wrote. 

“It has taken years to finally bring the Senate together and pass these reforms by unanimous consent,” Ortiz wrote. “My only intention with this bill is to offer students a remedy so that they never have to experience what my friends and I did.”In the memorandum filed by Ortiz to the UF Supreme Court July 2, he claims Green vetoed the bill past the veto deadline. 

“The student body president has subverted the student body’s legislative process by exercising her veto power after the deadline, or by exercising her veto power over legislation not subject to veto,” Ortiz wrote. 

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Acting Chief Justice Julia Van De Bogart told Ortiz the Court will not be hearing cases until the start of the Fall semester because other members of the Court are not in town. 

“Gathering everyone together for a hearing is not feasible at this time,” De Bogart wrote. “When the Fall semester is approaching, the Court will address your case.” 

Senate President Oscar Santiago Perez (Change-District D) commented on the case filed by Ortiz and said Green has the authority to issue the vetoes the date she did. 

It was the last day Green could sign, veto or ignore before automatically going to the university president's designee as mandated by the Student Body Constitution, Santiago Perez wrote. 

Santiago Perez believes the argument Ortiz is presenting isn’t valid and relies on legal theories that have been turned down in real life situations, they wrote. 

“The Student Body President has historically been able to veto legislation relating to our election law, and I don't see how that should be any different in the future,” Santiago Perez wrote. 

Santiago Perez hopes to see the fate of the vetoes handled within the Senate instead of the Supreme Court, they wrote. 

Green has the opportunity to provide a presentation on the vetoes at the July 11 Senate meeting. 

Contact Vivienne at vserret@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @vivienneserret.

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Vivienne Serret

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


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