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Making a temporary exception to the bylaws


Guest TJ Turner

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Our bylaws state that officers serve a term of 3 years with a year off before they are eligible to come back on the board. However, the majority of current officers came on the board and the same time and are set to go off at the same time. This will leave an inadequate number of officers to fulfill the duties of the board. So we want to make a temporary exception to the bylaws in order to staggar the times when people come off.

What's the best way to go about this? We are seeking to make a temporary change but not to change the bylaw permanantly.

I'm a parlimentary procedure rookie, so I appreciate your help.

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What's the best way to go about this? We are seeking to make a temporary change but not to change the bylaw permanantly.

Amend the bylaws. Then amend them "back". That's as "temporary" a solution as there is.

Nothing is permanent.

But why not just elect people who are eligible? Clearly the membership adopted the "one year off" rule for a reason.

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However, the majority of current officers .... are set to go off at the same time. This will leave an inadequate number of officers to fulfill the duties of the board.

But why not just elect people who are eligible?

Indeed, I too am curious --- are you not going to have elections at the end of the term of these officers? Do you just not have a large enough membership yet to provide for new candidates to be elected, while honoring the 1-year off rule for the current office holders?

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Indeed, I too am curious --- are you not going to have elections at the end of the term of these officers? Do you just not have a large enough membership yet to provide for new candidates to be elected, while honoring the 1-year off rule for the current office holders?

We essentially don't have enough candidates who are willing to serve. We have two boards, one is a ruling board the other is a service oriented board. The one in question, of course, is service oriented, so it is often dificult to find people willing to serve. Basically, everyone who is willing to be on the board is already on it and most of them will come off together. It may help to know that the organization is question is a church.

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It may help to know that the organization is question is a church.

Well, it's certainly not surprising.

Amending your bylaws may be your only option. And you might want to leave them amended and see how that works out over time. Term limits can be appealing but, as you've seen, they can come back to haunt you. Sometimes it's best to let the voters impose "term limits" by electing someone else (though incumbency can be a tough advantage to overcome).

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Another approach (which still requires amendment of the bylaws) is to leave the term limit rule in there, but make it suspendable (by some vote margin that the organization thinks is reasonable), and perhaps only under certain circumstances. A rule about eligibility to serve is not, by its nature, suspendable. However, if the rule is written with built-in language about how it can be suspended, then it is suspendable.

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Another approach (which still requires amendment of the bylaws) is to leave the term limit rule in there, but make it suspendable . . .

Do you really want to introduce the notion (slippery slope? can of worms? Pandora's Box?) of suspendable bylaws to a church? Next you'll be suggesting it to a small dog club.

gnRMbm

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Do you really want to introduce the notion (slippery slope? can of worms? Pandora's Box?) of suspendable bylaws to a church? Next you'll be suggesting it to a small dog club.

gnRMbm

You left out the HOAs :)

Or amend the By-laws to have one Board overseeing both areas and two Standing Committees (well at least one) whose responsibilities cover the two separate areas.

And this major organizational overhaul addresses the problem (not enough eligible candidates for the service-oriented board) how?
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Our bylaws state that officers serve a term of 3 years with a year off before they are eligible to come back on the board. However, the majority of current officers came on the board and the same time and are set to go off at the same time. This will leave an inadequate number of officers to fulfill the duties of the board. So we want to make a temporary exception to the bylaws in order to staggar the times when people come off.

What's the best way to go about this? We are seeking to make a temporary change but not to change the bylaw permanantly.

I'm a parlimentary procedure rookie, so I appreciate your help.

Coming back to answer the question you actually asked, you could amend the bylaws by addition of language that says exactly what you want to accomplish, and making it clear that the language only has temporary effect (this is called a proviso). For example, "the term of members holding offices A, B, and C in March 2012 will be extended for an additional year, until the annual election in 2013 [or until their successors are elected]." Or something like that. The phrase in brackets is there only in case you have such language in your usual definition of the term of office. Just write something appropriate for your organization. And, presumably, if you are instituting staggered terms, you would also define how exactly you want that to work on an ongoing basis (in the appropriate section(s) of the bylaws).

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Or amend the By-laws to have one Board overseeing both areas and two Standing Committees (well at least one) whose responsibilities cover the two separate areas.

That's what we already have. The Problem is that one of the standing committees will have an insuffiecient number of people that are both eligible and willing to serve.

Another approach (which still requires amendment of the bylaws) is to leave the term limit rule in there, but make it suspendable (by some vote margin that the organization thinks is reasonable), and perhaps only under certain circumstances. A rule about eligibility to serve is not, by its nature, suspendable. However, if the rule is written with built-in language about how it can be suspended, then it is suspendable.

That's what I've been thinking could be the best solution.

Coming back to answer the question you actually asked, you could amend the bylaws by addition of language that says exactly what you want to accomplish, and making it clear that the language only has temporary effect (this is called a proviso). For example, "the term of members holding offices A, B, and C in March 2012 will be extended for an additional year, until the annual election in 2013 [or until their successors are elected]." Or something like that. The phrase in brackets is there only in case you have such language in your usual definition of the term of office. Just write something appropriate for your organization. And, presumably, if you are instituting staggered terms, you would also define how exactly you want that to work on an ongoing basis (in the appropriate section(s) of the bylaws).

This is the best explanation of why we tried to do (and failed to do in properly).

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Another approach (which still requires amendment of the bylaws) is to leave the term limit rule in there, but make it suspendable (by some vote margin that the organization thinks is reasonable), and perhaps only under certain circumstances. A rule about eligibility to serve is not, by its nature, suspendable. However, if the rule is written with built-in language about how it can be suspended, then it is suspendable.

It's looking like this is what I will suggest. After all, if the constitution and bylaws were established by the membership (which they were) there's no reason the membership couldn't allow themselves to suspend some aspect of it under certain conditions. Plus, as I've been going through our bylaws I've noticed that several corrections/clarifications are needed. So it seems the best thing to do would be to address all of the issues now and try to prevent a problem like this in the future.

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