Recent Legislation Announcement
On Sunday, March 28th, 2021, President McKay signed into effect the following Acts of the Assembly:
This Resolution amends the Constitution of the UPUA with recommended changes proposed by the Ad Hoc on Organizational Structure’s Executive Branch Sub-Committee, which was formed in Summer 2020 and met throughout the Summer of 2020 and the Spring of 2021. Its purpose was to locate areas of the UPUA’s governing documents in need of clarifying or fixing, with an emphasis on items related to the Executive Branch. The changes made are as follows:
– Changes instances “Entity” or “Entities” to “Branch” or “Branches,” except where appropriate, for a clearer interpretation of the organization’s structure
– Clarifies the word “Membership” as referring to General Business Membership throughout the document, in recognition of the difference between General Business Membership (elected or appointed members of the UPUA) and General Election Members (all undergraduate students at University Park who can vote in UPUA elections)
– Clarifies presidential appointments as a power rather than as a process, and outlines the process elsewhere in the document
– Changes instances of “he/she” and “his/her” to “they” and “their”
– Clarifies that the President and Vice President are the “Chief Executive Officers,” since the President and Vice President are currently considered the organization’s “Chief Officers” despite there being a Speaker and Chief Justice who lead Branches of their own
– Adds a stipulation that allows the President to remove any Department not listed so long as they have the approval of the Assembly (via a vote), considering some Departments could be home to as many Executive Directors, Directors, and Staff as twenty
– Clarifies the Records Executive Director as organizational Secretary (similar to how the Finance Executive Director is the organizational Treasurer), the mission of the Records Department, the transparency of General Business Membership contact information, and the deadline for submitting all documents to the University Libraries as an annual procedure
– Modifies the Department of Sustainability’s name to the “Department of Environmental Sustainability”
– Clarifies Department Membership, Department Staff, and Executive Staff by clarifying the common practice that Departments may bring on additional “Department Staff” to help (sort through and organize records, perform research for the Department, run social media, etc.) by adding those roles to the Constitution, as well as clarifying that the President and VP may bring on additional staff of their own (like the Chief of Staff) as “Executive Staff Members;” the Chief of Staff is considered the President’s“ chief Executive Staff Member (as they are responsible for the President’s staff within the Executive Office of the President)
– Clarifies the power of the Assembly’s removal to being able to remove any General Business Member
– Allows amendments to be voted on outside of just the General Assembly Meeting time, helping to ensure amendments don’t fail simply because not enough people could attend General Assembly
– Clarifies that the UPUA is the student government for University Park’s Undergraduate Student Body, not just the “Student Body”; “student Body” was previously used several times throughout the document, rather than “Undergraduate Student Body,” thus implying we serve both graduate and undergraduate students
– Clarifies that Representatives, the President, and Vice President may not resign and return to the same Office in the same Assembly Year
– Clarifies that elected offices’ terms (Representatives, President, and Vice President) last from their swearing-in until the next Assembly is sworn in after Election Day — all responsibilities as a Representative, President, and Vice President remain until the next Assembly is sworn in; Department Directors, Department/Executive Committee Staff, Judicial Board Clerks may remain in their roles at the discretion of the incoming Branch Head; Executive Directors may, at the discretion of the incoming President, remain in their roles as Acting Executive Directors for a period of no longer than four weeks so that things like communications, records-keeping, finances, and research projects don’t fall through — Executive Directors must re-apply and be reconfirmed on a yearly basis
– Clarifies Referenda creation procedure and purpose, as well as outlines the existence of a Referenda Petition form available on the UPUA website
– Clarifies Advisors’ purposes
– Fixes grammatical and formatting errors
This Resolution formally integrates an undergraduate student body-wide referendum question regarding fossil fuel divestment to the Spring 2021 UPUA Elections, held on March 31st, 2021.
The UPUA approves of the following question:
“Penn State should (1) commit to divestment from its long-term holdings in fossil fuel asset classes as quickly as possible; (2) release information about its current holdings in fossil fuels; and (3) publicly comment on the proposed divestiture.”
Each voter shall be able to answer “Agree” or “Disagree” to the above question, or they may choose to skip this question. Furthermore, the following explanatory text shall precede the question on students’ ballots:
“Over the past five years, universities across the country have moved to divest from their long-term holdings in fossil fuel assets to demonstrate a stronger commitment to climate action. In March 2021, Rutgers University voted to divest after its student government hosted a referendum on the issue during its Fall 2020 elections. On March 17, 2021, The UPUA voted to support divestment with Resolution #56-15: “Calling on The Pennsylvania State University to Completely Divest from Fossil Fuel Holdings”. Furthermore, the Penn State Climate Action Petition is calling for divestment and has over 2,000 signatures by students in support of stronger commitments to sustainability by Penn State. A potential divestiture from fossil fuels by an institution as large as Penn State would have far-reaching impacts, and the UPUA wants to ensure your student voice is heard on this important issue.”
This Resolution establishes a Spring iteration of Test Prep Week, which will take place from Monday, March 29th, 2021 to Friday, April 2nd, 2021 on the HUB Patio Steps in compliance with Penn State’s COVID-19 guidelines. MCAT, LSAT, GMAT, and GRE review books from The Princeton Review will be distributed to students. The Academic Affairs Committee will also continue to expand access to these resources by posting availability and any updates on any applicable social media.
This Resolution calls on the University to add a “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Resource Tab” to the University Park Interactive Map. The Resolution indicates that “the UPUA will follow through on the addition of the DEI tab through communication with Penn State’s Transportation Services. The UPUA will call on the Transportation Services to include resources pertaining to the following subcategories: LGBTQIA+ resources, disability resources, spiritual resources, resources for people of color, the location of Diversity Offices, resources addressing food insecurity, and family resources. The Committee for Justice and Equity shall provide a list of specific locations to be added to the proper contacts in charge of the Penn State Interactive Map.”
This Resolution places the support of the UPUA and the University Park Undergraduate Student Body behind the passage of the Environmental Justice Mapping and Data Collection Act of 2021 and calls for our US Representatives Fred Keller (R-PA) and Glen Thompson (R-PA), and our US Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) to support this piece of legislation. Additionally, the UPUA President will send a letter to these representatives, along with the other pieces on the legislative docket, and signal our support for them. The bill will exist on our legislative docket until it is passed through Congress, or until an act of the UPUA removes them.
The bill has been introduced in the house by Cori Bush (D-MO) and in the senate by Ed Markey (D-MA). This bill establishes an interagency Environmental Justice Mapping Committee that must create a tool to identify environmental justice communities. Environmental justice communities are communities with significant representation of communities of color, low-income communities, or tribal and indigenous communities that experience, or are at risk of experiencing, higher or more adverse human health or environmental effects, as compared to other communities. This bill indicates that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must establish an environmental justice data repository to maintain the data collected by the committee. The EPA must make the repository available to regional, state, local, and tribal governments.
This Resolution places the support of the UPUA and the University Park Undergraduate Student Body behind the passage of the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural (CROWN) Hair Act of 2020 and calls for our US Representatives Fred Keller (R-PA) and Glen Thompson (R-PA), and our US Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) to support this piece of legislation. Additionally, the UPUA President will send a letter to these representatives, along with the other pieces on the legislative docket, and signal our support for them. The bill will exist on our legislative docket until it is passed through Congress, or until an act of the UPUA removes them.
This bill prohibits discrimination based on a person’s hair texture or hairstyle if that style or texture is commonly associated with a particular race or national origin. Specifically, the bill prohibits this type of discrimination against those participating in federally assisted programs, housing programs, public accommodations, and employment.
“Persons shall not be deprived of equal rights under the law and shall not be subjected to prohibited practices based on their hair texture or style.” The bill provides for enforcement procedures under the applicable laws.
This Resolution places the support of the UPUA and the University Park Undergraduate Student Body behind the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act and calls for our US Representatives Fred Keller (R-PA) and Glen Thompson (R-PA), and our US Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) to support this piece of legislation. Additionally, the UPUA President will send a letter to these representatives, along with the other pieces on the legislative docket, and signal our support for them. The bill will exist on our legislative docket until it is passed through Congress, or until an act of the UPUA removes them.
This bill modifies and reauthorizes through FY2024 programs and activities under the Violence Against Women Act that seeks to prevent and respond to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking. Among other things, the bill also authorizes new programs, makes changes to federal firearms laws, and establishes new protections to promote housing stability and economic security for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking. The Abby Honold Act is also incorporated to this bill as an amendment.
This Resolution places the support of the UPUA and the University Park Undergraduate Student Body behind the passage of the following bills (and their modern number equivalents) and calls on our state representatives Scott Conklin (D) and Kerry Beninghoff (R), and our State Senator Jake Corman (R), to support these pieces of legislation through the Pennsylvania General Assembly and the Pennsylvania Senate. Additionally, the UPUA President will send a letter to these representatives, along with the other pieces on the legislative docket, and signal our support for them. They will exist on our legislative docket until they are passed, or until an act of the UPUA removes them. The bills are as follows:
– Enabling Community Solar Development in Pennsylvania – Formerly PA House Bill 531: This state bill enables community solar development in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
– Protecting Pennsylvania’s Water Quality – Formerly PA Senate Bill 915: This state bill helps to protect water quality from nutrient runoff in Pennsylvania by updating the 1965 Pennsylvania Fertilizer Act to establish best practices for use of fertilizer, create a certification program for commercial use, promote public education and outreach, and require improved labeling and reporting.
– Ensuring Lead-Testing of Pennsylvania’s Public Water Systems – Formerly PA House Bill 212: This state bill provides increased powers, duties, and responsibilities to the State’s Department of Environmental Protection in the realm of lead testing of public water systems throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
– Ensuring the Health and Safety of Students in the Leasing Process – Formerly PA House Bill 213: This state bill implements a process by which lessors (landlords) wishing to lease a residential dwelling (such as an apartment or house) are legally required to inform the lessee (renter) whether or not the housing facility has been tested for lead-based paint and hazardous conditions, provide the lessee with a lead hazard information pamphlet approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), disclose to the lessee the presence and location of any known lead22 based paint and hazardous conditions, and provide the lessee all records of prior evaluations for lead-based paint and hazardous conditions. All contracts would, under this law, be voidable until the lessor complies with the above.
– PA Senate Bill 12 – Raise the Minimum Wage: This state bill would work to increase Pennsylvania’s state-wide minimum wage by increments of 50 cents up to $9.50 in the year 2022. An Act amending the act of January 17, 1968 (P.L.11, No.5), known as The Minimum Wage Act of 1968, further providing for definitions and for minimum wages; providing for gratuities; further providing for enforcement and rules and regulations, for penalties and for civil actions; repealing provisions relating to preemption; and providing for taxpayer savings and reinvestment. Under Senate Bill 12, the minimum wage would move to $15 an hour by 2026.