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Guest Alan Moll

Approving a Major Bylaws Revision

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Guest Alan Moll

Our church will be considering a total rewrite of our By-Laws, so it is not a simple matter of voting on individual changes.  The draft document will be distributed prior to the meeting.

I was thinking of soliciting a motion to accept the entire document and then address any desired changes as amendments.  Is this the best way?  What would be a better way?

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Bylaw amendments (and revisions) are covered in Chapters 57 and 28 of RONR.  It is a more extensive than I care to get into here other than to say that with a revision, the entire document is open to amendments and it should be taken up in seriatim (by paragraph), with each paragraph first being perfected and then the document as a whole being voted on and again subject to amendments.  Perhaps someone else will go into more detail.  :)

Edited to add:  It would be permissible to adopt a motion to consider the document as a whole rather than by paragraph, but the entire document is subject to amendment just like any other main motion would be.  A motion to consider the document as a whole would require a majority vote unless it is adopted by unanimous consent.

Edited by Richard Brown
Added last paragraph

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Agreeing wholeheartedly with Mr Brown's reply, I would suggest that a helpful way to achieve the buy-in you're looking for is to have some sessions with your church to go over the revision section by section. Even if you distribute the entire revision ahead of time, if the meeting is the first time your church has an opportunity to discuss it and ask questions, it's highly unlikely you'll get a simple up/down vote on the revision as a whole. There is much wisdom in RONR's instruction to consider the revision seriatim; that should not be bypassed.

 

(edited to fix grammar/wording)

Edited by Tom Coronite

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I will add that if your idea is to first get the revision adopted as is, and then at the same meeting consider amendments to the newly-adopted revision, that won’t work (unless the revised bylaws contain some very unusual amendment provisions). Once adopted, the revision, including its amendment provisions, will be effective immediately. So any amendments to the new documents would have to follow whatever notice provisions are continued in the document’s amendment provisions. And if (unwisely) the revision contains no provision for its own amendment, the RONR default is that amendment requires previous notice and a two-thirds vote. Just follow the advice from Mr. Brown and Mr. Coronote, and you should be OK.

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Guest Alan Moll, I agree with the advice by Mr. Merritt. Something about your original post makes me afraid that you might be hoping to adopt the bylaws revision first and then go back and start amending it. That is not the right way to do it. You perfect it first with amendments then adopt it once you are finished amending it.

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I have a similar situation where the Board of Trustees are trying to pass a constitution revision by  a simple up/down vote on the revision as a whole. If there is a motion to that effect and seconded, followed by discussion, can amendments to parts of the revision be made before the vote to accept as a whole?

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Guest Zev

Clarification if you please. Are these a series of amendments that are attempted to be adopted in a single vote or is this an entirely new document? Whose meeting is this, the Board of Trustees' meeting or the assembly's meeting? Also, what does your constitution say about who has the authority to amend the constitution and what requirements must be fulfilled? I'm not entirely clear on what you mean to say by "parts of the revision."

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