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Alex Meed

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Everything posted by Alex Meed

  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.
  15. So it sounds like whether a member may follow a question with a speech depends on how the member addressed the chair. If the member simply seeks the floor—"Mr. Chairman. (The gentleman is recognized.) Mr. Chairman, I wish to begin with a question to Ms. X."—then he retains the floor after Ms. X answers the question, and may use the floor for any legitimate purpose. His question and Ms. X's answer counts against his time. This is only in order when debate is otherwise in order. On the other hand, if the member seeks limited recognition—"Mr. Chairman, I would like to ask a question of Ms. X."—then his recognition is only valid for the request for information, and after receiving the answer (and engaging in the permitted ensuing colloquy) he loses the floor. However, this may be done when debate is not in order, such as when an undebatable question is pending or the previous question has been ordered. Am I missing anything?
  16. So, while RONR mentions the concept of friendly amendments, it is certainly not... friendly to the idea.
  17. Not unless authorized by the bylaws of your organization. Otherwise a committee must be created by the bylaws or by motion of the assembly of the society. A provision in the bylaws that "the president appoints all committees" empowers the president to appoint the members of all properly established committees, but not to create a committee on the president's own initiative.
  18. I have several questions about requests for information, all of which apply to the case when the person to whom the question is posed is not in the middle of a speech: Can a member pose a question to a colleague and then, when the question has been answered, continue with a speech? Or does a member lose the floor after posing a question? Similarly, can a member follow a question with another question? If the member loses the floor upon posing the first question, may he claim preference in recognition to pose the second? Can a member give a speech and then conclude by asking a question? Finally, is there any limit on the length or content of a question, and does a question (or an answer to a question) count as one of the two permissible speeches per day on the pending motion?
  19. I can't speak for Mr. McMillan, but in both deliberative societies I've been active in recently, most decisions are made by the board. Business at general meetings is mostly confined to elections and bylaws amendments, but the main purpose of the general meetings is networking and educational programming. For someone to make an original main motion at one of these meetings is a rare and surprising event. As a result, the societies' presidents are elected for their leadership abilities, not for their skill in presiding, and usually relinquish the chair to one of the few members learned in parliamentary law (sometimes even following the rules in RONR for ceding the chair!) when complicated business comes up.
  20. Ah, I missed that when I read the book last summer. Thanks.
  21. In the U.S. Senate, a senator may seek the floor when a unanimous consent request is put to the body, begin "Mr. (Madam) President, reserving the right to object," and then wax poetic about the unanimous consent request, possibly choosing to object at the end. RONR allows a member to reserve a point of order against a motion, but can a member reserve an objection? Or is there any device by which a member may give a speech, or engage in a short colloquy with the requestor of a unanimous consent request, before deciding whether to object?
  22. The section on committees outlines five methods by which committees may be selected, RONR (11th ed.), pp. 493–96. These methods either allow the assembly itself or the presiding officer to appoint committees. Absent specific authorization in the bylaws, may the assembly delegate the power to appoint a committee to an individual other than the presiding officer? For instance, may the assembly authorize the president to appoint a committee, even if the president is not in the chair or is not at the meeting? May the assembly likewise authorize another officer, such as the vice president or the secretary? And if such methods are allowed, where do they rank in the list on p. 174, ll. 15–18, that designates the order in which methods of appointment are voted on if more than one is proposed to complete an incomplete motion to commit?
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