New tracking system helps ASG keep handle on legislation

Janette Neuwahl

Associated Student Government’s Rules Committee is making sure legislation passed by Senate isn’t forgotten.

Starting this quarter, Rules Committee members implemented a bill tracking system to ensure that senators follow through on the bills they write.

“(My committee members’) job is to hunt down the author of the bill, the Executive Board member in charge of the bill and the administrators involved with it to find out how far along the bill is,” said Rules Chairman Jason Warren. “If a bill has already been implemented, then great. If it hasn’t, we’ll try to see what is stopping it and why it didn’t go all the way.”

Of the bills senators have examined so far, most have been successfully implemented, said Warren, a Communication junior.

The 13 senators on Rules Committee divided up the more than 50 bills Senate passed last year. The bill-tracking system was outlined in a resolution by former ASG President Jordan Heinz, Education ’02, said ASG Secretary Noreen Khalid.

Warren said he decided his committee would take on Heinz’s challenge because the Rules Committee’s primary responsibility is to review and prepare new bills for Senate each week.

“By senators contacting administrators, we are hoping Rules senators will facilitate a more open dialogue between the administration, current Executive Board members and their (respective) committees,” Warren said, adding that the new system is only as effective as senators make it.

Khalid, who also is vice chairwoman of the Rules Committee, said she agreed that Heinz’s resolution was a fitting endeavor for the committee.

“We examine bills weekly and with a 50 percent (senator) retention rate we figured (Rules) would be a good body of people to start with for bill tracking,” said Khalid, a Communication senior.

After the bill tracking process is complete, Khalid said the committee will compile a list of legislation that still has to be implemented. ASG Executive Board members then can choose from the report which bills, if any, they want to continue pursuing.

“Rules senators aren’t really finishing up bills, we’re just giving them back to committees themselves,” Khalid said.

Rules Committee member Jen Martin said members could choose bills to pursue based on their own interests, leading her to review bills proposed by the Academic Committee.

Of the two bills Martin evaluated, both were enacted successfully, she said.

“If we just pass them and don’t follow up on them, it doesn’t really matter that we pass them,” said Martin, a Weinberg junior and senator for Rainbow Alliance.

Public Affairs Residential College Sen. Eileen Keeley said this year’s system is based on one started last year in Senate where each committee was supposed to track its own bills. But that system did not prove effective, she said.

Of the two pieces of legislation she reviewed, Keeley, a Weinberg senior, said one bill on campus safety initiatives did not materialize because of financial constraints.

College Republicans Sen. Matt Hall, another Rules Committee member, said he sees the benefits of the new system as a way to validate ASG’s lobbying as influential for students.

“A lot of student opinion about ASG revolves around how much we actually get done,” said Hall, a Communication sophomore. “Passing bills that never do anything is about as valuable as a bucket of warm spit and the student body knows that. … (By following through on bills), I hope it will improve the image of ASG’s effectiveness on campus and hopefully encourage students to use the ASG process more often.”