After last weekâ€™s death by default of the student governmentâ€™s legislation to oppose the city tax increase that will appear on the November ballot, senators are trying to reform the rule causing abstention votes and absences to count as no votes.
The city tax legislation was voted down 12-7-6, with the six abstentions counting as â€œnoâ€™s.â€ The Associated Students of CSU governs its Senate by Robertâ€™s Rules of Order, the same that govern the U.S. Senate.
While Robertâ€™s Rules state that abstentions and absences do not count as votes, ASCSU has counted them as votes ever since the 2006 Schrader v. Conrad. This ruled that, in order to pass, any legislation must receive its required number of votesâ€“â€“either half or two-thirds of the Senate, depending on the bill â€“â€“Â of the total number of members, not just those present at time of voting.
This effectively made abstentions and absences count as â€œnoâ€™s.â€
The legislation presented Wednesday would relinquish the votersâ€™ rights and deny the rights of their constituents to representation â€“â€“ meaning an abstention counts as no vote â€“â€“ should a senator use an abstention vote.
The authors of the bill claim those who use an abstention do so believing their vote will not be counted, not that it will be counted as a no.
Most supported the bill, saying abstention votes slow Senate. By abstaining on bills, the Senate allowed them to die by default, meaning it took no stance on the issue. This leads to additional legislation being written and presented the following week, often regarding the same issue, to allow the Senate to take a stance.
But in the case of the tax bill, the Senate is no longer able to take a stance because it is too close to Nov. 2 elections and the opportunity to present more legislation has passed.
â€œThis is a good piece of legislation, and this needs to happen,â€ said Chase Eckerdt, ASCSU director of Community Affairs. â€œThis whole body is slowed down by another group who is not taking a stance.â€
The legislation was sent to the internal affairs committee and will be discussed again at a later date.
Before the debate over the legislation, CSU President Tony Frank discussed the budget and possible 20 percent tuition hike with the Senate.
Frank said the administration is basing the budget on the assumptions that state funding could cease after this fiscal year and that he will need to balance between cutting university expenses with raising tuition. The decision will not be an easy one, he said.
â€œThe simple fact is weâ€™re running out of options,â€ Frank said.
ASCSU Beat Reporter Jordyn Dahl can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.