SGA meets for third constitutional convention

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The Student Government Association held its third constitutional convention meeting on Friday, July 13. The meeting consisted of reviewing Article IV through Article XII of the SGA constitution, which included the topics of passing amendments, the budget and impeaching senators.

Unlike the previous two meetings, which were held in SGA President McKenna Stone’s office, the third meeting was held in the SGA conference room and was live streamed via the SGA Facebook account.

Stone, Vice President Corai Jackson, Chief of Staff Angel Lovett, Treasurer Matthew Keller, Senate President Pro Tempore Caroline Carney, Senate Parliamentarian Dorothy Gault, Election Commissioner Katie Rogers and Judicial Board representative Reid Renfroe present for the meeting.

During the meeting, the committee reviewed Article X and examined how an amendment must have a two-thirds vote to pass. The SGA had previously treated amendments as simple legislation which passes under a simple majority. This led to some of the committee to fear that amendments had been passed without meeting the two-thirds vote requirement.

Stone suggested looking back at the attendance for the vote but Carney declined to do so after having done it previously.

“Things don’t usually pass by a close margin, so they were probably all approved by two thirds anyway,” Gault suggested.

Another focus of the meeting was that the current constitution currently has no section regarding spending. Keller said the SGA follows federal, state and university spending laws, but there is nothing to reflect that in the constitution, and he has proposed the addition of a new article of the Constitution specifically devoted to spending.

“A lot of students don’t see university spending policies up close and aren’t too familiar with them, so we just want to make sure they see that there is something behind [spending],” Keller said.

According to Southern Miss director of procurement and contract services Steve Ballew, the general rules of the SGA, or any affiliated group of Southern Miss, come from Mississippi procurement laws. The SGA may spend up to $5,000 on the purchase card. If the purchase card cannot be used, they must advertise a ‘competitive bid.’

Renfroe, speaking on behalf of Attorney General Lauren-Hunter Gaudet, who was not in attendance, spoke about Gaudet’s new record of precedent. The records would be of previous court rulings that help determine cases. Currently, the SGA does not keep any records of previous court cases or their rulings.

During the meeting, the committee also spoke about impeachment and breaching of SGA contracts. Stone said they do not currently have procedures for impeachment of a senator. The committee said because a senator is an elected official, it falls to the SGA vice president to lead the impeachment. Stone felt the power of impeachment should be held by the Senate itself.

A problem Carney found with the SGA contract is that it is not found in the constitution or the bylaws. She proposed that the committee look over the contract and the committee agreed the SGA contract should be added to the bylaws.

Other changes occurred during the meeting consisted of language, grammar and issues that the committee decided to speak with advisors over.  The minutes for the third meeting have yet to be posted but should have been posted this past weekend. The live stream has been archived in the SGA Facebook page for viewing.

The next constitutional committee meeting will be held during the last week of July, where they will go through the senate bylaws, election codes and drafts of their respective articles and sections.

The committee’s goal is to finish the constitutional rewrite in time to put it on the ballot during homecoming elections.