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Legislature may change ABOR structure

By Ryan Gabrielson
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
February 28, 2000
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Members of the Arizona Board of Regents Friday vehemently opposed three bills proposed by the state legislature - including one that would completely restructure the board.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 1008 would not only make ABOR an elected body but cut the eight-year term in half - a stipulation some members found upsetting.

"Number one, it makes the board small and less representative and number two, if I want to run and campaign in a district I would run for congress," said Regent Judy Gignac.

Currently, ABOR's eight voting members are appointed by the governor. All three Arizona university presidents, the superintendent of public instruction, the governor and a voting student regent also sit on the board.

Under the senate proposal, a regent would be "one member of the general public who is elected from each congressional district of this state in the manner provided by law. The elected members serve staggered four year terms."

Additionally, only the student regent would remain an appointed position.

One state university president would be allowed to serve a year, with the position rotating at the governor's discretion.

SCR 1008 requires two-thirds of the Senate's approval to pass rather than the normal majority because it is an amendment to the Arizona constitution.

The restructuring proposal was one of the 33 bills and resolutions in the state legislature involving ABOR presented to the board during its meeting in the University of Arizona Memorial Student Union.

ABOR members said some of these bills can be considered "micromanagement" of the board.

ABOR, which faced the legislature's attempt to micromanage last meeting when presented with Rep. Jean McGrath's, R-Glendale, coed dorm and computer filter bills, quickly passed a resolution that changed the board's official position towards the bills from "neutral to opposed."

If the bill passes, it will make ABOR political and the decisions coming from that board would be "ugly," said Hank Amos, ABOR president.

Among other bills that ABOR voted to oppose was Senate Bill 1507. If passed, SB 1507 would appropriate $15 million to the ASU Cancer Research Institute.

The board voted to oppose this bill because of its distribution of funds.

"This is directed at a very small and narrow group of cancer researchers," Gignac said. "It should be moved into the opposition list the way it is currently written. I am opposed to it."

Gignac said the $15 million could be appropriated better by the ABOR.

The third bill opposed by the regents was Senate Bill 1389, which would provide about $500,000 to the Arizona K-12 Center at Northern Arizona University to help in the development of character education curriculum.

The board passed a resolution to oppose the bill with Regent Kay McKay dissenting.

After the meeting, Amos said he dislikes the stance the state legislature is taking towards the Board of Regents.

"I think its inappropriate to micromanage the affairs of the regents," Amos said.

Even though the regents are concerned with the nature of the bills, Amos said that he thinks the legislature will listen to the statement ABOR sent by opposing the bills.

"I think that most people who manage will take suggestions of their body and move forward with it," he added.

Regent Don Ulrich agreed with the comments of other board members and said he thinks the state legislature is overstepping its bounds.

"The legislature is flying in the face of the board," Ulrich said. "It's overriding what we have done."

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