Tempe USG votes against bylaw amendment that would impact appropriations process

Tempe Undergraduate Student Government voted Tuesday to oppose a bill that would amend Tempe USG bylaws to clarify that many of the materials that clubs would request funds to purchase are available for free through the public domain. 

The origin of the bill came from a club applying for funds to purchase Bibles, which are available for free through public domain. 

Senate Bill 45, introduced by Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering Sen. Alex Arena, would not have made any concrete changes in appropriations policy, but instead suggested that clubs and organizations see if they can find necessary materials for free, allowing appropriations funds to function for other uses.

However, clubs and organizations could speak to the Appropriations Committee separately to demonstrate why they would need funding to get materials that would otherwise not be copyrighted.

"I've never understood in a lot of the applications we receive; why couldn't you just go through this free route?" said Arena. "It's about saving appropriations money, more thoughtful appropriations applications and overarching sustainability."

The Appropriations Committee was unable to give an exact figure of how much money was lost by appropriating funds to purchase non-copyrighted materials.

"That's a really hard figure to calculate," said Appropriations Committee Chair Aundrea DeGravina. "It's noticeable." 

Arena estimated that the figure was in the low thousands. 

Several USG members made it clear they were not interested in making the issue a religious one. 

"I'm not interested in making this a religious issue, this is about spending money efficiently," said Tempe USG President Isaac Miller. 

Some controversy about the bill arose because, according to the USG bylaws, amendments to the bylaws are supposed to go through the Government Operations Committee before being voted on, said Government Operations Chair Sen. Kanin Pruter.

This issue was circumvented when the senate voted to temporarily suspend the bylaws.

However, disagreement about definitions of public domain within the bill and other semantic points delayed the vote. 

In the end, the bill — the only legislation of the night — was voted down, though Arena said he would be interested in reintroducing similar bills in the future. 

"I can propose this bill every week (though the same exact bill cannot be reintroduced, according to Tempe USG bylaws), like they do with Obamacare," Arena said. 

Reach the reporter at Arren.Kimbel-Sannit@asu.edu or follow @akimbelsannit on Twitter.

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