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USG bill proposal tabled

By Nick Shigo
On April 10, 2014

Due to debate and disagreement among senators, the Undergraduate Student Government voted to postpone a vote on legislation establishing the University of Connecticut's support of an amendment to the U.S. Constitution limiting political campaign contributions by corporations.
Senator Daniel Byrd proposed the legislation at the April 2 USG caucus, opening the bill to official debate at the senate meeting last night.
"Corporations have unlimited amounts of spending in the political process, and I do not see how this benefits the American people," Byrd said.
The bill would establish the UConn student body's support of a piece of proposed national legislation that would limit the amount of money corporations should be allowed to contribute to political campaigns.
UConn is one of many colleges and towns considering establishing formal support of the bill. It is the first step in a ten-year plan to enact the amendment.
But USG Senators voiced concerns that the bill would not accurately represent the attitude of the student government toward the bill, and whether or not it reflected the bipartisan nature of USG decisions.
Senator Parth Rana said that the bill was inherently partisan, even if bipartisan in language, because corporations are the main contributors to Republican presidential campaigns, while unions provide the main contributions to Democratic presidential candidates.
Byrd argued that the issue of large campaign contributions is not partisan, stating that most Americans, including students, disagree with the current ruling.
"Corporations and politicians make this partisan," Byrd said.
Amendments to the legislation were proposed to include limits on union contributions to political campaigns in addition to contributions by corporations, but were eventually voted down.
Byrd claimed that the bill was in the best interest of the UConn student body, and students across the country, as the billions of dollars that corporations donate to campaigns make the comparatively small student donations worthless.
To show the student body's support of the bill, Byrd conducted survey along Fairfield Way collecting 400 signatures on petitions from students.
The validity of the surveys was called into question by Senator Hailey Manfredi, who stated the number collected was not a representative sample of the student body.
According to UConn Connecticut Public Interest Research Group Chapter President Samuel Hollister, who conducted the survey for Byrd, the purpose of the survey was not to conduct a statistical survey, but to give students a chance to physically show support for the bill.
Other senators agreed with the overall principles of the bill, but had issues with the wording and proposed goal.
Senator Justin Clark argued that what the legislation is trying to accomplish is different from the message Byrd presented in his bill.
Clark thought that the wording of the bill confuses the issue of giving corporations the same legal rights as people and limiting the amount of money they can contribute to political campaigns, something Clark sees as two separate issues.
"I will make an effort this week to speak with Dan about this legislation," Clark said.
President Edward Courchaine believes that the extra time spent to work on the bill will give senators time to clear up points argued over during the meeting
"Taking the time to investigate these things is paramount," Courchaine said.
Byrd disagreed with the decision to postpone the vote on the bill.
"I feel it was tabled because people didn't do enough research, but I will spend the time to make sure it is more perfect," Byrd said.
 


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