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Benjamin Geiger

Our board referred a matter to a special committee. Can the same matter be proposed as an amendment before the committee reports?

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At last week's meeting of our organization's steering committee, one of the members proposed hiring a field organizer. We voted to refer the proposal to a special committee, to report back at next month's steering committee meeting.

The member who proposed the motion, who was also named as chair of the special committee, contacted me later to ask how he could go about proposing an amendment to the budget to set aside funds for the hiring of the field organizer. (The adoption of the budget is a general order for the general membership meeting occurring tomorrow.) I told him that as far as I understood the relevant documents, everything should be clear.

The chair of the organization got wind of the amendment in the works, and also contacted me to ask how to handle the situation, given that it was referred to a subcommittee. I think I may have given her incorrect advice, that since the matter was referred to a committee (something I had forgotten when talking to the member), it's effectively "in progress" and an amendment to that effect would be out of order. I did tell her, however, that any two members could appeal that ruling and then it would be determined by a majority of the members present and voting.

The special committee is technically a subcommittee of the steering committee, and as such reports back to the steering committee, presumably at the next steering committee meeting, in about three weeks. Also, if I'm reading the situation right, the odds of the amendment passing are relatively low, considering the budget already contains funds that could be used for the hiring of the field organizer.

Should I tell the member to hold off on the amendment? Should I suggest that the chair let the amendment proceed? 

Edited by Benjamin Geiger
Clarified the proposed amendment.

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Unless you have rules that prohibit it, any member may propose an amendment to the budget that is proposed, so I don't see any impediment to an amendment that would provide funding for a proposed or even hypothetical position, in the event that who ever is responsible for such a hiring actually fills the position.

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I agree with Dr Goodwiller, but I have a question about another statement made by the original poster.

Mr. Geiger, you referred to this committee as actually being a subcommittee of the steering committee. Didn't we determine in a different thread that this steering committee is actually in the nature of an executive board and should be considered a board rather than a committee? That may or may not be the case in your organization, but it has been my experience that a steering committee usually functions as an executive board rather than as a committee, despite its name. A State Central Committee of a political party is similar:  it is called a committee, but in reality it is functioning as a board.

Is that the situation with your organization?

 

Edited by Richard Brown
Typographical correction

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Guest Who's Coming to Dinner

I think it depends on whether this motion to set aside budget funds presents the same question or conflicts in some way with the motion to hire a field organizer. If either is true, then the second motion is not in order until the first has been disposed of.

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3 minutes ago, Guest Who's Coming to Dinner said:

I think it depends on whether this motion to set aside budget funds presents the same question or conflicts in some way with the motion to hire a field organizer. If either is true, then the second motion is not in order until the first has been disposed of.

I agree, but I don't see the budget amendment as presenting the same issue. The motion which was referred to the committee is to recommend whether someone should be hired for a particular job. The budget amendment, on the other hand, it's just to set aside funds to be used to pay for such a person if he is in fact hired.

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46 minutes ago, Richard Brown said:

Mr. Geiger, you referred to this committee as actually being a subcommittee of the steering committee. Didn't we determine in a different thread that this steering committee is actually in the nature of an executive board and should be considered a board rather than a committee? That may or may not be the case in your organization, but it has been my experience that a steering committee usually functions as an executive board rather than as a committee, despite its name. A State Central Committee of a political party is similar:  it is called a committee, but in reality it is functioning as a board.

Is that the situation with your organization?

Exactly. In fact, it is a political party: the Hillsborough County Democratic Executive Committee, the same organization we discussed in that earlier thread.

I intend to write a full revision of the bylaws in the near future, and in doing so I will attempt to rename the Steering Committee to something less confusing, almost certainly some variant of "Executive Board".

2 hours ago, Guest Who's Coming to Dinner said:

I think it depends on whether this motion to set aside budget funds presents the same question or conflicts in some way with the motion to hire a field organizer. If either is true, then the second motion is not in order until the first has been disposed of.

I'll be perfectly honest: I don't know how binding the budget is. I also don't remember the exact wording of the motion that created the committee. If the draft minutes have been transcribed by our secretary, I'll try to get a copy.

2 hours ago, Richard Brown said:

I agree, but I don't see the budget amendment as presenting the same issue. The motion which was referred to the committee is to recommend whether someone should be hired for a particular job. The budget amendment, on the other hand, it's just to set aside funds to be used to pay for such a person if he is in fact hired.

I guess it depends on how binding the budget is. I'm under the impression that just because something is listed as a line item in the budget doesn't mean it's a requirement. If that's the case, I figure the amendment doesn't conflict.

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3 hours ago, Benjamin Geiger said:

I guess it depends on how binding the budget is. I'm under the impression that just because something is listed as a line item in the budget doesn't mean it's a requirement. If that's the case, I figure the amendment doesn't conflict.

I think it is correct that, unless your rules or the text of the motion provide otherwise, the fact that the budget provides funding for a position does not mean that the assembly has ordered that the position be filled.

Furthermore, even if it is determined that the motion would conflict with the motion referred to the committee, the assembly could still reach the question by adopting a motion to Discharge a Committee. This generally requires a 2/3 vote, a vote of a majority of the entire membership, or a majority vote with previous notice.

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