Alexis Hunt

Recommending multiple choices to a superior body?

5 posts in this topic

The Society of Cheese Aficionados has two classes of voting membership, Eaters and Providers, each with their own conditions. As of now, there are no membership dues.

At a meeting, a member moves a motion "that the Governance Committee (a standing committee responsible for such matters) recommend bylaw amendments to provide for membership dues." and proceeds to give an eloquent speech about how the organization has, to date, been supported by the goodwill of the Providers in offering cheese for the Eaters, and the time has come where the Eaters should be required to pay a token fee to help cover their expensive tastes. The member, not having the expertise himself in drafting the complex bylaw amendments, would like to defer to the committee's wisdom rather than draft them himself. The motion is adopted with only mild opposition.

Upon receipt of the motion, the Governance Committee engages into a vociferous debate as to whether or not Providers should also be included. The original discussion that led to the referral did not contemplate imposing dues on the Providers at all, so the committee has no understanding of the sentiment of the membership on the matter. They feel that the question of whether or not to do so is only incidentally before the committee, because of the vagueness of the original motion, and that it does not fall within their usual scope of expertise. Nevertheless, the strong sentiment of some of the members that Providers and Eaters should be charged equally implies that the sentiment may be shared by the membership.

The committee decides that it does not want to simply report one set of amendments back in a vacuum, because it will possibly upset members who oppose that configuration and, worse, might result in ill-considered amendments from the floor. They also feel it would be irresponsible to pick one option and ignore the opposing views.

I've come up with the following options. Which do you consider to be procedurally acceptable, and which would you recommend? Feel free to suggest your own.

  1. The committee reports back two possible original main motions, but does not recommend one, and informally arranges to have one moved and then the other proposed as a substitute.
  2. The committee recommends one original main motion, based on a majority of the committee, but also reports the other option as a substitute. The committee informally arranges for a motion to be made to perform the substitution.
  3. The committee recommends one original main motion, and also recommends that the other option be adopted as a substitute for it.
  4. The committee informally surveys the members and reports back the preferred motion based on the feedback.
  5. The committee reports a request for a clarification and does not complete its work until it receives a clarifying instruction.
  6. The committee has to suck it up and recommend only one set of amendments.

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This topic has been languishing for over a month, so just for the fun of it I'll suggest that there may be a problem with the first three suggested options.

As I understand them, in each instance two different bylaw amendments will be proposed, with notice being given for each, and that while the first one of these two to be moved is pending a motion will be made to substitute the other one for it. If so, it appears that these options may run afoul of what is said on page 593, line 35 to page 594, line 10, as to the procedure to be followed in such instances.

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Dan, thanks for that response! Perhaps, then there is a seventh option: the committee recommends both and they are considered in order, as per the language you cited?

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