The ASUI Senate wrapped up the end of a busy semester Wednesday, saying farewell to four senators, welcoming in four more — including a new ASUI lobbyist — and voting on a few final pieces of legislation.
The senate voted unanimously to appoint Michael Ryan as ASUI lobbyist. His appointment came a week after ASUI President Cruz Botello told the senate former ASUI Lobbyist Rachael Miller would step down from her position amid her decision to graduate this semester.
Miller said she created a transition plan for the new lobbyist.
“I’m really sorry for leaving you in this position,” Miller said to the senate.
Though this position is a new one for him, Ryan is no stranger to ASUI. From 2014 to 2015, he served as a senator and senate pro-tempore. Since then, Ryan said he has also served as his fraternity chapter president, a university tour guide and is on the University of Idaho cheer squad.
Ryan addressed concerns that, as an out-of-state student from Colorado, he would not be qualified to handle the lobbyist position.
Ryan said he believes his status will benefit his position, as one of his projects will include lobbying to grant residency hunting, fishing and trapping licenses to out-of-state students. Ryan will travel to Boise next week for a policy briefing on the issue.
During the meeting, Miller said she looks to work with Idaho Fish and Game on the plan, rather than the Idaho State Legislature.
Senators Sam Balas, Tanner Beymer, Laura Ehman and Michael Lejardi were also honored by their fellow senators. The four will not return to the senate next semester.
Beymer, the senior-most senator to leave the senate that evening, gave an emotional farewell as he addressed his fellow senators.
“Each and every one of you has such a passion for representing your fellow students,” Beymer said. “And your commitment to due diligence and your commitment to service is inspirational and unmatched by any senator before you that I have seen in my time here.”
The senators also told Lejardi, who lost his reelection campaign earlier this month, that they expected to see him back in the senate in the spring.
ASUI Pro-Tempore Mattie Cupps thanked Lejardi for his work on the Vandal Dance Marathon and said he should apply for a vacant senate seat in the spring. Other senators agreed with her suggestion.
“I know that his presence in the senate will be greatly missed and we would love to have it back,” Cupps said.
The senate also voted unanimously in support of a resolution welcoming refugees into the state.
The legislation, written by former Volunteer Center Outreach Coordinator Jessica McDermott, calls for “refugees from every country (to) be recognized as victims of persecution in their home countries and subsequently welcomed in Idaho as positive additions to the culture and economy.”
One of the sponsors of the resolution Sen. Danny Bugingo, who also works for The Argonaut, said he and his family immigrated to America when he was 5 years old. Since then, Bugingo said much of his family’s success came from the kindness of the people in his community, and he thanked his fellow senators for supporting the bill.
The senate also voted not to supply $106.25 from its general fund to the Office of the President to pay for transportation to a basketball game Wednesday.
Tuesday, the ASUI Finance Committee, headed by Beymer, sent legislation about the transfer to the senate floor with a “do not pass” recommendation.
Beymer said despite the fact that everyone who testified during the committee meeting was in favor of the bill, his committee voted against it. He said the General Reserve money is supposed to be looked at as a back-up bank account for emergency funds.
“The justification for expenditure of these funds, I don’t think really fit the purpose of either of the two accounts over which the senate has authority,” Beymer said.
According to the legislation, the bill would have transferred $106.25 from the Fiscal Year 2016-2017 budget to the Office of the President, which would have then gone toward the total cost of renting three buses to transport students from UI to Washington State University in Pullman for the men’s basketball game Dec. 7.
The total cost of the buses is $1,275. Vandal Athletics and the Office of Alumni Relations will partner in funding the bill, according to the legislation.
Beymer said the buses have already been paid for, meaning the outcome of the bill would not affect the buses either way. However, it does determine how much money must come from other sources in order to reimburse the payment.
Director of Athletics Ethan McIlhargey said he originally asked to have the money transferred, thinking the cost of the buses would be closer to $600.
“We didn’t want our budget to be completely taken over by these buses,” McIlhargey said.
McIlhargey said his individual director budget includes roughly $1,000. Botello said $106.25 will come from the cabinet, and the same amount will come from McIlhargey’s individual director budget to fund ASUI’s portion of the payment.
McIlhargey said he hoped the bill would pass, but his department would not be in as much of a financial struggle as he originally thought it would if it did not pass.
Following the meeting, Senators Cait Bowyer, Briggs Jackson, Bailey Morris and Clayton Zimmerman were sworn in by Botello as ASUI’s newest senators and the new senate conducted another quick meeting to reelect Cupps as pro-tempore.
Taylor Nadauld can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @tnadauldarg