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  1. Several years ago my religious organization ended an employment relationship with a professional church worker. The personnel committee, organized as a sub-committee of the general assembly, was responsible for overseeing the matter. This sub-committee sent correspondence to the synodical church leadership concerning the employee relationship that may have had an impact on that persons employment opportunities in sister churches. We believe all of this correspondence falls under the protection of state and federal privacy laws relating to employers/employees, so there was no report regarding this correspondence given to the general assembly. Recently, a member of our assembly became aware of the existence of some of the correspondence. This member firmly believes the nature and content of some of the correspondence should have been shared with the general assembly. Therefore, the member created a motion seeking this correspondence be released to the assembly. This motion was first presented to a sub-committee of the assembly, but failed to progress due to lack of a second. Now the member seeks to present his motion to the entire assembly. To do this, the member will first have to get approval from the assembly to add a new business item not on the adopted agenda for the assembly meeting; our agenda is fixed by our constitution and bylaws, so this business would be considered a changed agenda. If the assembly approves (two-thirds majority required), then the member would present their motion. But we now believe the motion this member seeks is in conflict with state or federal privacy laws, and therefore is out of order. We feel that raising this topic in any form in the general assembly puts the organization at risk for lawsuit from the aggrieved employee due to breach of privacy. My question now is: when does the Chairman have the responsibility to declare the motion is out of order? For example, when the member comes forward to move to change the agenda, it is reasonable to expect that he/she will need to say something about the business they would like to add to the agenda. We cannot say for certain in advance exactly how the member may characterize the new business he wants to bring forth. Therefore, must we wait until he/she has said something about requesting information that would be considered violating the privacy law? And is it reasonable for the Chairman to interrupt the member mid-sentence to declare the motion out of order and prevent the member from making statements that could potentially put the organization at risk of privacy violation? Can we stop the business from moving forward even at the "change the agenda" stage, versus potentially waiting until the entire motion is read (assuming the change-the-agenda motion is successful)?
  2. Hello, This Tuesday our student government voted to pass a motion affirming the results of the election commission. However, it has come to my attention that a portion of the election commission bylaws violates students' fundamental rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. The election results were tabulated with deductions for campaign violations, as per the election bylaws. For example, a candidate violated the university's posting policy and 80 votes were subtracted from his vote total, causing him to lose the election. There is no mechanism for appeal. If this action is unconstitutional, and therefore is in violation of a fundamental principal of parliamentary law, namely the principle of following own specific rules, could I call a point of order violation at the next meeting and make our vote to accept the election commison's results null and void? Essentially, I am asking how I should approach fixing our vote to affirm election results that were tabulated based on election bylaws that are against the Constitution. I mean we basically passed a motion to affirmed an action that violated our students' Constitutional rights. There has to be a remedy for this, right? (FYI, I am in no way involved in the election and do not know any of the cafaiates. I just do not want to see this happening at my campus.) Best, Chris
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