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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

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Senate overturns student body president’s veto for Northgate advocacy bill

Student+Body+President+Case+Harris+speaks+to+the+Student+Senate+on+Wednesday%2C+Oct.+19%2C+2022.
Photo by Ana Renfroe

Student Body President Case Harris speaks to the Student Senate on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022.

The 75th Session of the Student Senate met on Oct. 19 to hear Student Body President Case Harris’ argument for overturning The Fate of the Gates Bill. Harris vetoed the Northgate advocacy bill on Oct. 13. Harris’ veto was overturned by a vote of 42-6.

The Fate of the Gates Bill was unanimously passed by the senate on Oct. 5. The bill advocated for the Northgate District, condemning several points of College Station Police Chief Billy Couch’s proposal for change.
Entering the period of unfinished business, Harris explained his reasoning for vetoing the highly anticipated bill.

“I disagree with none of the contents in The Fate of the Gates Bill, but I am simply requesting a one-word change,” Harris said

Harris said he fully supported the content of the bill. He explained executive branch leaders have already been meeting with local officials to advocate for the interests of students, especially for Northgate. Harris said his concern was because of the language of the bill and the usage of the word “tasks.”
“As [the] executive branch, we have a responsibility to carry out any legislation that [senate] passes. We have a responsibility to take that seriously and make sure that happens on behalf of [the] senate,” Harris said.

Senate “tasking” the executive branch would essentially order them to carry out the contents of the bill. Harris said it is important to remember allowing such language can set a dangerous precedent.

Harris asked the senate to not overturn his veto, stating the bill could undergo a change of language, and then be reintroduced. However, many senators disagreed with Harris’ reasoning and proposal.

Geosciences Senator Joshua Benson brought up legislation from the previous session, notably the Fish Camp Autonomy Bill, that tasked the executive branch. Benson asked if the aforementioned precedent already exists.

During the period of presentation, Off-Campus Senator Karime Ramos, Off-Campus Senator Andrew Applewhite and Community Relations Chair Jessica Williams defended the bill. Ramos, the primary author of the bill, argued that the legislature already tasks the executive branch.

“The student body president shall be ultimately responsible for the lack of implementation of any statute enacted by the Student Senate,” Ramos said, reading aloud several pieces from the Student Government Association Code. Ramos also said that the veto has delayed advocating for students.

Williams, an original sponsor of the bill, argued for overturning Harris’s veto, stating that the will of the students was clear.

“All bills are implicitly tasking the executive branch with doing something,” Williams said. “Explicitly saying the word ‘task’ really isn’t any different.”

During the period of debate, several senators were eager to speak and present their arguments.

Rules and Regulation Chair Carly Oldag debated in favor of overturning the veto. Oldag said the bill was necessary for the safety of students, and strong language is needed in this situation. Oldag said the language doesn’t interfere with the mission of advocating for students.

“Why should we get rid of a piece for one word, which will delay the passage of a piece by one month?” Benson said, debating in favor of overturning the veto.
Benson stated the student body president is required to attend senate meetings, so Harris should have been able to recognize the language of the bill. Notably, Benson brought up that if the bill remained vetoed, it would not be allowed to be brought up again.

In order for the bill to be brought up again, it would have to undergo significant changes to the content. Oldag agreed changing the usage of “tasking” would not be a significant enough change to bring it up.

Legislative Relations Chair Pat Englehart said there were no executive branch representatives present at the community relations meeting, where the bill was further discussed prior to its second reading on Oct. 5.

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About the Contributor
Ana Renfroe
Ana Renfroe, Head News Editor
Ana Renfroe, Class of 2025, is a journalism junior with a minor in professional writing from Bryan, Texas. Ana has served as The Battalion's head news editor from May 2023 to May 2024. Previously, she was the assistant news editor for the spring 2023 semester. Ana has covered breaking news, politics, and more. She typically covered the Texas A&M System and university administration, Texas and Bryan-College Station politics, student government and more. Ana previously hosted and produced episodes of The Batt Signal, The Battalion's news podcast. Additionally, she was a copyeditor and feature writer for Maroon Life magazine, and helped contribute to the Aggieland Yearbook.
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