Associated Students Legislative Council voted down a bill that would have let students decide whether or not to reduce the size of Leg Council by six members Wednesday night.
Rep-at-Large Jonathan Pineda and Off-Campus Rep Scott McDowell proposed an amendment to reduce Leg Council from the 24 members to 18 members. Students would have voted on the amendment in the upcoming Spring election, but the council voted it down by one vote, 11-10, with one abstention.
Pineda justified his bill by saying it would have made A.S. more effective and saved $7,000.
Leg council members receive $300 per quarter and with an elimination of six members, A.S. would save $5,400 for payment of members and an estimated $1,600 for various development and training expenses. If the amendment passed, each student would have saved roughly 40 cents per year.
Leg Council members represent different constituents based on their local residence, and students vote according to where they live. Currently 14 members represent off-campus students, four members represent on-campus students, and six members are elected to represent the general population. The amendment would have eliminated the six positions of rep-at-large if it had passed.
“Really, it’s kind of a joke, because those people only run as a general representative because they know they couldn’t win as an off-campus rep,” Off-Campus Rep Brian McGuire said.
Off-Campus Rep April Dunlap agreed with McGuire and said the problem with Leg Council is with the dedication of those already involved and not the number of those who sit on the council.
“When boards get too big,” she said, “it actually decreases individual representation because nothing is really accomplished.”
Off-Campus Rep Josh Baker supported the bill and said it was not Leg Council’s decision to cut its own membership. He said they should put the option on the ballot and see what the students decide.
Pineda wanted to move away from Leg Council’s tradition of cutting other bodies of government and focus on a fiscal cutback from within the council, since A.S. has been facing a budget crisis for the last two years.
“It’s better to look at ourselves than to outside [bodies] to look for extra money,” Pineda said. “This is somewhere we could save.”
Off-Campus Rep Riisa Petersen voted against the bill and said a six-member cutback would decrease diversity among the board.
“If we put this on the ballot, students will only look at the money issue and not focus on the lack of representation,” she said.
Leg Council also passed an amendment to the Election Code that would require candidates for A.S. office running on a party platform to put their party’s mission statement on the ballot.
“It would require parties to have a mission statement of what the parties claim to stand for so students could be better educated to what the parties intend to do,” A.S. President Brian Hampton said.
The amendment passed 17-2-3.