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Jim Hughes

Lack of vote equals lack of approval

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Corporation by laws give responsibility to manage a subordinate subcommittee to a standing committee. A motion to authorize the subordinate to execute one of its duties was introduced. A motion to lay on the table was approved (probably illegal because its purpose was to suppress the question). As a complicating factor, the subordinate has been performing this duty without approval from the standing committee. The motion to authorize was an attempt to enforce existing by laws. Two questions: 1) Does previous usage trump the by laws? 2) Can the lack of a vote be intrepreted as a lack of approval, therefore the subordinate does not have approval for this duty?

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1: No, but longstanding traditional "usage" (whatever you had in mind by that term) can gain the character of a rule as long as there is no written rule to the contrary. RONR p. [19 / 17]*

2. Well, sorta. Certainly a 0-0 "vote", for lack of a majority in favor, would defeat the motion in question. But putting something off and not (yet) doing anything about it is sort of an "in limbo" situation. Until something is decided, I'd venture that the traditional usage is still the proper way to go.

Don't forget, anybody can move to take the motion from the table next meeting and thus press the organization into making a decision (unless it just gets put off again).

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