Student Government passed Assembly Bill 9 with amendment, which proposed to reduce the amount of money that candidates are allowed to spend on their campaigns, on Tuesday.
Student body president Xavier Rotnofsky and student government administrative director Amber Magee proposed AB 9, “Amending Student Government Campaign Finance Limits in the Election Code,” to address the issue of diversity in Student Government.
After Speaker of the Assembly Tanner Long did not comply with the Student Government Supreme Court’s ruling, debate resulted in an Assembly vote on AB 9 to pass it, 24-7.
The passing of AB 9 with amendment means the bill will be applied to first-year representative elections and all elections thereafter. AB 9 will not be applied to the upcoming March elections.
Magee said she thinks the amendment was an easy way for the bill to pass, but does not think Student Government acted in the best interest of all students this year.
“This year simply had too many personal investments...to amend spending limits for the March elections,” Magee said. “Some of the very representatives that opposed AB 9 because of their strategies are running for reelection...The student body needs to hold these students accountable, and upcoming elections provide a stage for that.”
Rotnofsky said he cares deeply about AB 9 because he did not have to spend a lot of money to run.
“It’s just a misconception that keeps people from running for positions that they would be really good at because they think they can’t afford it, and that’s just not fair,” Rotnofsky said. “The spending limits propose a barrier because people think they have to spend a lot of money.”
Austin James Robinson, who filed to run for student body president, said AB 9 is a poorly timed but essential bill that could positively affect future elections.
“Although it does suck in general that AB 9 comes at a time right before campaigning, it is still necessary to ensure there is not such an economic gap between candidates who can easily supply that money and candidates who may not be able to use as much,” said Robinson, a youth and community studies senior.
Robinson said he believes AB 9 will make the difference it proposes to make.“It will further close that socioeconomic status gap between candidates in general, and could even result in people who would usually be put off by the fact that their opponents can spend $1,000 to run in the future,” Robinson said. “I believe anyone wanting to encourage change on campus should be able to run and have the chance of winning — not just those candidates with money and resources.”
Jenny McGinty, liberal arts representative and Plan II sophomore, said UT has fundamental campaigning differences compared to other schools that have smaller expenditure limits.
“I’m in full support of trying to engage non-SG people into the campaigns, but campaign expenditure amounts allow students to reach out to communities they’re not a part of through flyers, t-shirts, website designs and handouts,” McGinty said. “I think that the numbers that Magee is trying to cut down are arbitrary.”