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Alex Meed

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  1. When I chaired a bylaws committee, I used singular "they" in drafting the initial version of our revision. This is both because such usage is quickly becoming accepted in even formal varieties of English (and, as Mr. Geiger notes, was used long ago as well), and because I knew based on the character of the society that it would want its bylaws to use singular "they." In my personal writing, I use singular "they"; before that I used "he/she," which I abandoned years ago because it (a) excludes people who use neither of those pronouns and (b) is simply clumsy to the eye and ear. The laws of Texas use the approach others in this thread have mentioned, which is to eliminate pronouns whenever possible, simply repeating nouns or otherwise restructuring the sentence instead. This was a directive by the legislature to the legislative counsel to avoid the then-current practice of using "he" in newly drafted legislation. I have used this arrangement as well, though my most recent writings tend to fully embrace singular "they," even in formal settings. Which approach the society uses is ultimately a question it alone can decide, and in my opinion should decide for itself based on the tastes and preferences of its own members and the community it may wish to attract to membership.
  2. Sorry for the caginess—I've been trying to keep the post general, since it's a hypothetical situation, but I suppose the proper approach really depends on what exactly it is that the member wishes to speak about. What inspired the question was if a member were to try to use their three minutes to discuss the pending question, in effect trying to circumvent the motion being undebatable. I suppose there are several permutations of that; they could come out and say they want to debate the motion, or they could more artfully describe some aspect of the motion they wish to speak on. I suppose the upshot of this thread, though, is that the chair should ask the member what they wish to speak about, and has the authority to rule the request out of order if it doesn't sufficiently pertain to the pending business or to an urgent matter.
  3. Let's say a motion to Suspend the Rules and adopt some resolution is pending. Immediately after the chairman states the question, a member rises and says, "M__. Chairman, I ask permission to address the body for up to three minutes." How should the chairman respond?
  4. If a member wishes to speak while a nondebatable question is pending, is that a motion to Suspend the Rules that prohibit debate on the motion, requiring a two-thirds vote; a Request for Any Other Privilege, namely the privilege of addressing the body, requiring a majority vote; or some unholy combination of the two (or something else entirely)?
  5. I'll defer to the folks who actually know what they're talking about, such as Mr. Martin, but one thing in your post caught my eye: As Mr. Martin mentioned, when the assembly has completed its entire order of business and nobody wants to raise any further business, the chair can simply declare the meeting adjourned. I did this when I was president of a student organization; at the end of each board meeting I would simply say "Is there any further business? ... If there is no further business, this meeting is adjourned." My colleagues quickly got used to that, and then we didn't have issues with people prematurely making motions to adjourn, because they knew that I would simply adjourn the meeting once we were finished instead of them having to move to adjourn. Whether this technique will work in your assembly depends on the culture of your organization and, in particular, on whether you reach the end of your order of business at each meeting (if you don't, then this procedure doesn't apply to you).
  6. Let me see if I've understood this correctly: A Request for Any Other Privilege that relates to a personal privilege is a question of privilege. If a question is pending, a member may Raise a Question of Privilege to seek to have their request interrupt the pending business; the chair rules on whether the request is a question of privilege and whether it is urgent enough to interrupt the pending business, and then the assembly votes on whether to grant the request. If no question is pending, the member simply states the request and the chair puts it to a vote.
  7. I did this as the president of a political student organization. As others have mentioned, nothing in RONR prohibits members of a board from gathering outside of a board meeting, but only at a properly called and quorate meeting may the board take up and dispose of matters that must be decided at a meeting.
  8. That was about the answer I anticipated; thanks. A recent example would be the House floor speech by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez relating to her encounter with Rep. Ted Yoho. Representative Ocasio-Cortez was recognized for 1 hour to give her speech. It occurred on p. H3702 of the Congressional Record. Chapter 42 of House Practice seems to cover requests of this type. It states that "under clause 1 of rule IX, questions of personal privilege are defined as those that affect the 'rights, reputation, and conduct' of individual Members in their representative capacity." House Practice (2011), p. 736.
  9. What is the proper process if a member wishes to address the body while no question is pending, or on a topic unrelated to the pending question? If the member's address pertains to a personal privilege, may the member gain permission to make this address by raising a question of privilege, as is done in Congress and the legislature of my state (Texas)? Whatever the proper process is, how is it decided whether the member is permitted to address the body—is it by a vote, by a discretionary decision of the chair, or an automatic right of a member (and if the latter, may the chair decide when it may be exercised)?
  10. I have a follow-up question: would it be proper in this instance for a member to call the chair to order (or do something of a similar nature)?
  11. I have also been a member of (and served on the board of) such an organization. The bylaws prescribed a fixed time for the officers-elect to take over, and before that time we would have a "transition meeting", a meeting of the outgoing officers where the incoming officers are guests.
  12. A lot of things in my organization's bylaws are beyond me as well.
  13. RONR provides that certain rules are fundamental principles of parliamentary law, which "cannot be suspended, even by a unanimous vote," RONR (11th ed.), p. 263, ll. 17–18. However, may an assembly that wishes to abrogate one of these principles, permanently or temporarily, do so by amending its bylaws? adopting a special rule of order? adopting, by two-thirds vote without notice, a special rule of order to apply only to the current session, in much the same way that a convention may by two-thirds vote adopt a parliamentary standing rule applicable only for the duration of the convention? (And if so, may this special rule be adopted while another question is pending, making the process similar to the motion to Suspend the Rules?)
  14. Right, I was just wondering if that difference in practice between legislative and ordinary societies was a matter of rules or simply of practice. Texas doesn't use it that way. Very occasionally members will make motions to reconsider for the actual purpose of reconsidering a question (usually to add a late amendment to a bill but sometimes to try to change a voting result). But it doesn't surprise me that other states have adopted the congressional practice.
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