| 03.17.2018

Picking a pro tempore


While well-intended, a bill seeking to amend the process by which the ASUI President Pro Tempore is elected missed the mark, ASUI Director of Policy Tanner Beymer said to the ASUI Senate Wednesday night.

S15-16, authored by ASUI President Pro Tempore Michael Ryan, would amend the process by which the president pro tempore is elected. Rather than the new class of senators voting on the position at the first meeting of their new term, the president pro tempore would be elected at the second to last meeting of the spring semester, before new senators have been sworn into office.

“You could liken it to the three-fifths compromise, if you will,” Beymer said. “You have African-Americans who cannot cast a vote, so their owners cast a vote for them. We should be placing much more trust in people who were duly elected by the student body.”

ASUI Senator-elect Kailey Holt also spoke out against the bill at Wednesday’s open forum.

“Although I do understand the merit and where this bill is heading … any legislative body has the privilege and the right and the duty to elect their own head of their organization,” Holt said. “As a new senator and representative of the student voice, I feel that trust has been placed within me by students who have voted me into the Senate to ensure student voice is being heard and represented.”

According to Ryan, this process would allow the president pro tempore to adequately transition into the position and learn everything necessary before they are expected to serve the Senate.

The bill was originally half of Senate Bill S15-11, co-authored by Ryan and ASUI Senator Katie Cramer, which was vetoed by ASUI President Nate Fisher last week. The majority of the bill addressed routine maintenance of the ASUI Rules and Regulations. The section written by Ryan addressed the election process of the president pro tempore, and this was the section that made many senators uneasy.

Following the veto, Fisher sent out an internal email explaining his decision. Fisher acknowledged the problem Ryan was addressing, but suggested the issue was indicative of a larger structural problem that needed to be addressed within ASUI.

“I know you have concerns about the experience, and that is very valid‚ but what needs to come from that is not changing a problem that doesn’t necessarily exist, but how we transition senators into ASUI Senate,” Fisher said. “Let’s talk about ways to streamline membership in ASUI Senate, and this organization will be better off and we will have a Senate team that is better equipped to serve for a full term.”

After the veto, ASUI Senators Keely Snow and Brianna Larson divided the bill into two, and both were presented to the Senate in a motion to override the veto Wednesday. S15-15, addressing rules and regulations, was passed. S15-16, however, did not meet the two-thirds majority it needed to override the veto, and the motion failed.

The bill will return to the ASUI Rules and Regulations Committee. If they decide to vote on it this week, it will return to the floor for discussion next Wednesday. If the Committee does not vote on it this week, there won’t be enough time for it to be passed by the Senate and it will die at the end of the semester.

Ryan said when the president pro tempore is elected at the first meeting of the new term, it’s often difficult for them to transition and learn everything they need to. Though the bill may not be the solution, Ryan said he would continue to seek one.

“It’s not the end of the world,” Ryan said. “This wasn’t necessarily a bulletproof fix. We had run through multiple options and this was the one we found, but it’s not necessarily the only option — I’m going to look for another option to fix this problem, and what that will look like, I don’t know.”

Hannah Shirley can be reached at arg-news@uidaho.edu or on Twitter at @itshannah7

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