According to Bill 13U004, which was passed with an 85 percent majority of the House voting affirmatively, members of the executive cabinet would no longer be able to serve as representatives in UHR. This would include representatives that were nominated by the SGA President to serve as members of the Cabinet.
“Most of the programming that comes through to SGA is from the executive branch,” said Speaker of the House Mike Mosgrove. “We viewed it as unjust and unfair for them to be able to create these programs, promote them and vote ‘yes’ on them when the funding comes from UHR.”
CEE representative Evan Boyce recalled an earlier incident last year that demonstrated this belief shared by Mosgrove.
“A good example is last year’s ‘Night at the Woodruff’ a couple of times a year,” Boyce said. “We would have funding requests come through [from the executive cabinet] for transportation for those events.”
According to Boyce, funding for transportation within 150 miles of Atlanta is not in accordance with the policy set by the Joint Finance Committee (JFC).
“One time, we [struck] it down and magically [the executive branch] found funding from somewhere else,” Boyce said. “So they were just coming to us…kind of like forcing it down our throats.
Rep. Alex Bandes opposed the bill but agreed that such conflicts did occur.
“People don’t really like to admit it, but there is this unofficial competition between the House and the executive branches—who’s going to impact the campus on a bigger scale,” Bandes said. “There’s that constant struggle between the two.”
Another primary reason for driving this policy forward, according to Mosgrove, was to establish a solidarity in UHR that would not be as easy to have with executive cabinet members in the House.
“The cabinet members have almost a certain level of undue influence from being both representatives and cabinet members,” Mosgrove said. “Culturally, when you get out on the House floor, you get that sort of undue influence form cabinet members on other representatives.”
“The intention [of the bill] is to remove the temptation from that bias being present and remove the ability of the executive from doing that,” said Rep. Gregory Jones.
Bandes, on the other hand, saw this influence as imminent.
“They do carry an influence, and some of their decisions will affect others’ voting decisions,” Bandes said of the executive cabinet. “It’s not to say that another representative in the House can’t be just as influential.”
Mosgrove, however, flagged this portion of the bill under a greater movement.
“We are trying to remove them as representatives and [create] house leadership to give UHR its own banner to rally under,” Mosgrove said.
Allowing UHR to define itself was the reason for another major change in the separation of powers. The Speaker of the House, previously allowed voting rights on the Executive Cabinet, would now only serve as an advisor at the meetings and lose his or her voting rights.
“Going along with all the changes we wanted to make, inspiring the representatives, giving the house its own identity and trying to create this buy-in, we wanted the UHR to have its own independence,” Mosgrove said.
Ultimately, Mosgrove had one overarching goal with all these reasons in establishing separation of powers.
“We want to see all reps having better communication with their constituents,” Mosgrove said. “It was a matter of this culture that the House had slipped into, thinking in their heads, ‘the exec branch will take care of it,’…and that’s why we want to inspire them.”