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Bylaw re-organization


Guest Marianne McKeague
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Guest Marianne McKeague

Our organization has a main organization, and several sub-divisions - not committeees,  but divisions having their own meetings and programs.  We would like to re-order our current bylaws by inserting a new article for these sub-divisions.  The article would contain all sections pertaining the sub-divisions; where a section refers to both the main organization AND the subdivisions, the section would be copied into the new article on the subdivisons, while still remaining in the main organization.  No sections would be added, and none deleted.  Can we do this by a simple proviso, similar to one which would allow spelling or grammatical changes to be made? 

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59 minutes ago, Guest Marianne McKeague said:

Can we do this by a simple proviso, similar to one which would allow spelling or grammatical changes to be made? 

No, but here is what you can do: You can adopt a bylaw to this effect. It could, for instance, empower a committee for this purpose (or the board, if you're brave) to make changes in accordance with the CMOS where a bylaw provision clearly violates same, so long as the change does not impact its meaning, and to reorder where such reordering does not impact the meaning. You can also write it to allow the body which ordinarily makes changes to reject such a change by a lower vote than it requires to make the change in the first place - say, a majority vote.

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38 minutes ago, Joshua Katz said:

No, but here is what you can do: You can adopt a bylaw to this effect. It could, for instance, empower a committee for this purpose (or the board, if you're brave) to make changes in accordance with the CMOS where a bylaw provision clearly violates same, so long as the change does not impact its meaning, and to reorder where such reordering does not impact the meaning. You can also write it to allow the body which ordinarily makes changes to reject such a change by a lower vote than it requires to make the change in the first place - say, a majority vote.

I don't understand exactly what is being proposed here, but I'm pretty sure that it would not have the effect of lowering the threshold or notice requirements for amending the bylaws.  And if it does, it is not in order.

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2 minutes ago, Gary Novosielski said:

I don't understand exactly what is being proposed here, but I'm pretty sure that it would not have the effect of lowering the threshold or notice requirements for amending the bylaws.  And if it does, it is not in order.

I, in turn, am not sure what's being objected to. Of course you can lower the threshold or notice requirements for amending the bylaws, if you do so, as I suggest, by changing the part of your bylaws dealing with bylaw amendments. 

So, here is what is being proposed: amending the bylaws to give some committee the power to fix grammatical errors (by specifying a text on which to rely) so long as the meaning isn't changed. At the same time, that same committee can be empowered to reorganize the bylaws, again, without changing the meaning. 

But what if there's grumbling that, in fact, they made a substantive change? We could wash our hands of it, and say "well, then whoever, probably the assembly, ordinarily amends the bylaws, can amend it right back." But I think that's less than ideal, because it, in effect, requires the same vote to prevent a change as to make a change. So, instead, I suggest that the same amendment allow the assembly, if that's who ordinarily amends the bylaws, be able to say "nope, that stylistic change is disallowed" by a lower threshold.

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Okay, I think I get it now.  Yes, of course you can amend the bylaws to change the way the bylaws are amended (thereafter).

I'm pretty sure I'd vote against it though.

From what you describe, the change required to avoid the job of copying a few articles from here to there could well end up being more work, and fraught with more peril, than the job being avoided. 

I can envision much debate and haggling over this wording and that wording about what this committee is authorized to do, and what constitutes substantial change, and what happens when a provision is active and then rescinded, and I'm sure many other snags that don't leap to mind.  But the original idea was just to copy some applicable sections to a new article, without changing them.  While this might seem to be a larger change by weight, it's essentially a tiny change by effect.  And when it's done, there's no need to go back and put the bylaws back in order to prevent that revision committee from running off with the treasury some fine night.

Another thought, however.  It is an axiom of information science that identical data stored in two places will not agree.  I suspect copying sections as the OP suggested would run afoul of this law of nature.  I wonder if it would it be possible to mark the dual-use sections with an asterisk in the section heading, and then have an article that says only:  "Sections marked with and asterisk in the heading shall be interpreted to apply with equal force to Subdivisions A, B, and F", or refer to those sections by name.  Just thinking out loud.   Maybe I should think softer.  :)

 

 

 

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