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Alex Meed

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    Formerly Alex M.

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  1. A lot of things in my organization's bylaws are beyond me as well.
  2. 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?)
  3. 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.
  4. As a card-carrying millennial, allow me to be of assistance:
  5. I was under the impression that voting in opposition to one's true feelings for the specific purpose of moving to reconsider was considered to be acceptable. See RONR (11th ed.), p. 334, ll. 24–35, especially "To be in a position to [move to reconsider and enter on the minutes], [a member in opposition]—detecting the hopelessness of preventing an affirmative result on the vote—should vote in the affirmative himself." on ll. 32–35.
  6. Hang on, what's the distinction? It escapes me as well.
  7. A distinction people often mix up: If the voting threshold is a majority, then the fraction of votes that are affirmative must be strictly greater than half. So, if there are 12 votes, a majority would be greater than 12/2 = 6—i.e., 7 or more. If exactly half are in the affirmative, it's a tie, and ties fail. On the other hand, if the threshold is some fraction, that many votes or more must be affirmative. With 12 votes and a two-thirds requirement, the motion passes if 12 × 2/3 = 8 or more votes are in the affirmative. You don't need greater than 8, i.e., 9 or more—you just need 8. Other fractions—three-fourths, three-fifths, etc.—defined in your bylaws work similarly.
  8. How does an organization choose to join a parent organization? Must it be reflected in the bylaws? How does an organization that has joined a parent organization leave that parent organization? If there are references to the parent organization in the bylaws (for instance, designating members who will represent the organization to the parent organization in some capacity), must those references be removed in order for the organization to leave the parent organization?
  9. Can a committee appoint a vice chair, clerk, or other similar officers? Or may the committee's appointing power appoint such officers or confer that ability on the committee itself? Must the clerk or other officer of a committee be a member of the committee? What responsibilities do such officers have, either as defined in RONR (though I don't recall RONR defining duties of committee officers apart from the chair) or in the practice of organizations with which you are familiar? I presume one responsibility of a vice chair is to preside in the absence of the chair.
  10. Oh dear. The Texas Democratic Party's approach was to sacrifice the deliberative character of its convention. Committees met over Zoom (no idea how those went, since I wasn't elected to a committee nor did I watch any committee meetings). But the general body voted not in any sort of live meeting, but via Google Forms, on the election of committee members and officers and the adoption of committee recommendations. All of this was done in accordance with emergency rules duly adopted by the State Democratic Executive Committee, so it was above-board in a rules sense, but wasn't a deliberative assembly in any sense. The downside was that certain things were basically impossible. For instance, there were no minority reports or floor amendments, and it was hard to implement the provision in state party rules that allows resolutions to be offered by a written petition of a certain percentage of the delegates (ordinarily resolutions must be recommended by county conventions). Still, sounds like it was a lot better than the experience Mr. Zook described.
  11. And if they do not so specify, then a special meeting cannot be called (with a narrow exception for holding a trial as defined in the chapter on disciplinary procedures).
  12. As a hypothetical example, the committee was charged with conducting an investigation and instructed to interview a particular person, and did not actually interview that person. (I don't even know if that's a valid instruction.) But it sounds from your response like that would not be subject to a point of order in the assembly. Ah, imprecise language. I meant that the assembly could refuse to adopt any recommendations embodied in the report, if the report comes with recommendations for action by the society. I'm glad I give the impression of being well-informed, though, since I feel like a relative novice myself...
  13. If I recall correctly, committee instructions are binding, but it didn't immediately jump out at me how those instructions are enforced. If a committee violates its instructions, are its actions invalid? In other words, could someone raise a point of order that the content of a committee's report does not conform with its instructions? Or that the report is invalid because the committee did something earlier in its existence that its instructions forbade? Or that a committee has not reported by the time at which it was instructed to report? What would happen if the point of order were sustained? If the answer to the first question is yes, I presume the committee's improvident actions could be ratified. Otherwise, is there a way for the assembly to signal its disapproval of the acts of the committee, other than by voting down its report or discharging it?
  14. That makes perfect sense, thank you all.
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