SGA opposes controversial bill in Kansas state legislature

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Members of student government deliberated on the resolution at the weekly student senate meeting Thursday night. The meeting marked the third session of the 2015-16 elected student government.

Chairs of each standing committee provided a report about the duties involved and their goals for next year. Senate members will have the opportunity to decide which committee they are interested in serving.

Student Body President Andy Hurtig, junior in accounting, told senate members about a resolution being proposed to oppose Kansas Senate Bill 175. He provided support for the resolution and encouraged members of the senate to vote in favor of the resolution.

“KU, Wichita State and Pitt State have already made resolutions against this bill,” Hurtig said.

Hurtig said he believes the bill would restrict academic freedom by allowing religious student organizations to deny membership to other students.

The bill was introduced in the Kansas State Senate on Feb. 10 and approved to move forward on March 19. The bill was then introduced in the Kansas House of Representatives on March 23. The House referred to the Committee on Federal and State Affairs. On April 2, the House received a committee report recommending the bill be passed.

Section 3 of the bill goes on to read that religious student organizations would be able to seek legal remedies if denied benefits that any other student organization might receive, including SGA funding.

A motion was made and seconded to consider the resolution opposing Kansas Senate Bill 175. The motion carried by majority vote. Jan Vosahlik, doctoral student in civil engineering and senator for K-State graduate schools, spoke first about the resolution he had authored.

Senators called the resolution to special order, meaning a debate and vote would be conducted immediately instead of waiting until next week’s meeting. The motion was seconded and carried by majority vote.

Vosahlik said if Kansas Senate Bill 175 passes, he believes it would allow religious student organizations to exercise discriminatory behavior towards other students.

“We normally wouldn’t fund student organizations who exhibit this sort of behavior under the current SGA policy. Under this bill, we would not be able to deny funding,” Vosahlik said.

Hurtig again expressed his support of the resolution before proceeding with further debate. A motion was made to consider an amendment of the resolution to add “KSU SGA” as co-authors of the bill.

While many senators provided support for the amendment, some argued adding “KSU SGA” as a whole could insinuate that the resolution opposing the Senate bill passed unanimously. Senators provided arguments both for and against the amendment before senators chose to withdraw the amendment.

A motion was made to consider an amendment to suspend the rules of the resolution to add those who vote in affirmation of the resolution as co-authors. The motion was seconded and carried by majority vote.

Final arguments were given by the senators both for and against the resolution. After final arguments were presented, a final vote to pass the resolution was called to order. The resolution passed by a vote of 45-0-1.

Senators also approved the newly appointed presidential cabinet members. The motion was seconded and carried by majority vote. Several SGA officers and student senators were then sworn in.

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