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ASUNM discusses law, budget changes

An ASUNM Senate committee discussed Monday whether to write a bill that would change the attorney general's power to interpret student government law.

The attorney general can interpret and enforce Associated Students of UNM law any way he or she wants. The Steering and Rules Committee decided that the Senate should approve the attorney general's interpretations of law by a two-thirds vote.

Last year Attorney General Simon Goldfine was under fire for his interpretation of the ASUNM Constitution concerning how Senate vacancies should be filled. Several senators questioned the attorney general's authority to interpret the law and recommend changing how the Senate seats were filled.

Sen. Josh Aragon said the bill might improve relations between the attorney general and the Senate.

In addition to the bill, the committee members said they will consider eliminating one of or combining the definitions of "opinion" and "interpretation," which are not synonymous in the ASUNM code in the Law Book. Both are judgements that can be made by the attorney general, but only interpretations can function as law.

The committee also decided that the attorney general should have mandatory training before trying court cases, because training is not currently required. Aragon said this might help the attorney general from getting overwhelmed by the court process.

The Finance Committee agreed on funding for Student Special Events, the Student Residence Center Community Association and MechA, which stands for Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Atzlan.

Finance member Sen. Steve Aguilar said the group is working well together to decide how to allocate money to student organizations.

"We always try to be fair," he said. "We don't compare one organization to another."

Aguilar said that ASUNM President Jennifer Liu let too much time pass before signing a $500 appropriation bill for the Student Photo Initiative that the Senate passed last week.

"I'm livid that this happened," he said. "Don't let the smile that I have on my face all of the time fool you."

Aguilar said the bill sat on Liu's desk until Feb. 6.

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"It's in the best interest of the students to do it as quickly and efficiently as possible," he said. "That is neither quick nor efficient."

The New Mexico Daily Lobo tried to contact Liu but she could not be reached for comment.

Aguilar, a member of the Campus Safety Committee, encouraged his fellow senators and all students to attend the Campus Safety Walk on Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. in the Education Building Room 103.

"It's a chance for students to come out and identify hazardous parts of campus," he said.

Aguilar said students don't feel safe on campus these days, though statistics show that the campus is a safe place.

"If perception is bad, then stats don't mean anything," Aguilar said.

ASUNM Vice President Chris Mansfield said all students are welcome to attend the ASUNM Open House Friday from 1-5 p.m. in the Student Activities Center Rm. 280, 260 and 262. Various ASUNM senators will attend the open house.

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