MSA Operations Committee clarifies ambiguous bylaws with two bills

These two bills, if passed, will define what officers are and close a loophole.

Two pieces of legislation entered their first readings at the Missouri Students Association full Senate on Wednesday.

The legislation aims at resolving bylaw ambiguity concerning the ability of individuals to serve more than one position simultaneously.

Sen. Benjamin Bolin wrote both bills, which were co-authored by the MSA Operations Committee.

The first bill, titled 53-9: “An Act to Amend Chapters VII, VI, V, IV, II & I of the MSA Bylaws” is intended to resolve the ambiguity that came to light when MSA Budget Committee Chairwoman Shelby Catalano was appointed to the position of Board of Elections Commissioners vice chairwoman Catalano’s appointment raised questions of potential conflicts of interest and prompted the Operations Committee to remove references of the word “officer” and to make the necessary grammatical changes for clarity.

53-9 intends to close the loophole within the bylaws that would have permitted someone running for an election to serve on the BEC, putting all references of officers and any associated restrictions in one, easy-to-reference place, according to the bylaw.

“By cutting all those sections out we make it easy, effective and efficient for us to have these bylaws and only have it listed in one section,” Bolin said. “The first bit clears up all of this ambiguity as to what an officer is.”

The second bill, titled, “An Act to Amend Chapter III, VIII, & IX” is aimed at redefining the board within the bylaws so that they are consistent with how the board is perceived in practice and how potential issues concerning the board would be resolved, Bolin said. The bill moves the board into chapter three of the bylaws under the judicial branch.

The main takeaway from these bills is that no one within MSA can collect more than one salary, Bolin said. For example, the MSA president cannot also be the board chair. There is, however, no contention within the bylaws concerning a student’s ability to be both the chair of a committee and be involved within the board, as in Catalano’s case. As a check, the bylaws say that no board official can become involved in managing an election in which they are on the ballot.

Bolin emphasized that a superiority clause is included in the bill, maintaining the independence of both the board and court. The change was made simply for purposes of clarity.

“The second bit defines what officers are,” Bolin said. “The committee decided that it would be better if we moved (the board) over to the judicial branch … If the BEC says ‘you can’t do that,’ who are you going to appeal to? The judicial court. So to us it just makes sense for (the board to be moved to chapter three).”

The legislation will enter its second reading on Oct. 23.

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