Lobbying a greater focus with IGA

Story by Alex Zank, Chief Copy Editor

The proposed bylaw changes to the Intergovernmental Affairs commission had several student senators speaking with excitement at Monday’s meeting.

“This … is the next big, great thing in student governance statewide,” Tyrel Zich, chief of staff, said about the bill during the meeting. “This is the culmination in … trying to organize a structure by which we can manage this … I’m really excited about this.”

Vice President Patrick Martin had similar sentiments about the content of the bill.

“We really are the forefront of this,” Martin said at the meeting. “We are just beginning to rewrite how student governments operate not only in this state, but potentially across the nation.”

The bill, passed by voice vote with an amendment proposed by Information Technology Commission Director Ben Streeter that dealt with requirements to involvement of the commission, fundamentally changed what kind of commission IGA will be.

The major changes to the bylaws are the addition of an IGA intern and adding a legislative liaison aspect. There are also more minor details in the bill such as adding an 11-member cap and the charge for creating a yearly legislative priority summary.

The reason these changes are now coming about is a court case cited in the bill named Keye v. Board of Regents (1990) which sets legal precedent that “greatly expands student government’s ability to formally lobby” on the behalf of students, the bill stated.

To summarize the court case, student governing bodies in Wisconsin are actually considered a state agency, and therefore have the ability to have liaisons that enjoy exemptions of reporting requirements that other lobbyists have with organizations that are not government agencies.

This means student senate can take a more direct approach to discussing student concerns with state officials.

This is what got Martin and Zich fired up. Based on this recent discovery made by senate members regarding the senate’s status as a government agency, Martin said that the changes are being made to IGA in order to reflect this discovery.

“We are taking our IGA commission … and turning (it) to a self-contained legislative outreach,” Martin said.
The other major aspect seen in the bylaw changes is the establishment of an intern.

The intern will attend local government meeting and do research at the state government level, IGA Director Jason Rector said.

The intern will receive payment equal to half the salary of the IGA director, as stated in Attachment “A.”

The legislative summary, also stated in the attachment, is a comprehensive report of “issues and policies at the local, county, and state levels” that affect Eau Claire students and will include the senate’s official position on such issues.

“(The summary) gives (officials) a clear and concise list of what we’re in favor of and where we stand on issues,” Rector said.
Martin said the changes of IGA were just the start of what he describes as this newfound authority, and he hopes this paves the way for other student governments in the state follow suit.