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Committee with Power


mmpullen
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Our organization has standing committees that must receive approval from the Board/membership in order to carry out any actions. If the membership wants to give power to a standing committee already in existence to act for the assembly without first having to get Board/membership approval, what would be the right way for the membership to go about it and would the action granting power need a 2/3 vote in order to pass?

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Unless the bylaws grant the board the exclusive authority to appoint or instruct this committee, the membership may create or appoint the committee "With Power", meaning it has the power to actually implement its recommendations or do what it was instructed to do without having to get further approval from the appointing body.  A committee charged with putting on the Christmas Party would be an example of such a committee.  Also, if the committee is already established but was not granted the power to actually do anything other than make recommendations, it can be further instructed to actually carry out its recommendations and to complete the action it is charged with doing. 

Note:  If you bylaws actually say that the committee must get board or membership approval before proceeding, that could change things, but I still believe the assembly could authorize the committee to act with power to carry out its recommendations.  That is actually a matter of bylaws interpretation, something we don't do here, and might turn on the exact wording in the bylaws.

Edited to add:  The additional instructions to the committee would require only a majority vote, per this language from page 177 of RONR:  "SUBSEQUENT INSTRUCTIONS. After a question has been referred to a committee and at any time before the committee submits its report, even at another session, the assembly by a majority vote can give the committee additional instructions in reference to the referred question. "

Edited by Richard Brown
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Edited to add: "The additional instructions to the committee would require only a majority vote, per this language from page 177 of RONR: "SUBSEQUENT INSTRUCTIONS. After a question has been referred to a committee and at any time before the committee submits its report, even at another session, the assembly by a majority vote can give the committee additional instructions in reference to the referred question." But if the "additional instructions" are to give the standing committee the "authority to act on matters of a certain class without specific instructions from the assembly" which when creating such a committee seems to require on page 491 previous notice and a two-thirds vote or a vote of a majority of the entire membership, why wouldn't the same vote be required to give that authority to a committee already in existence? Applying the reasoning that these particular "additional instructions" give the committee power usually reserved for the assembly, it doesn't seem to jibe that only a majority vote would suffice. Then, again, we are talking about a committee already in existence and not the creation of a committee which is the concern on page 491.

Edited by mmpullen
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8 minutes ago, mmpullen said:

But if the "additional instructions" are to give the standing committee the "authority to act on matters of a certain class without specific instructions from the assembly" which when creating such a committee seems to require on page 491 previous notice and a two-thirds vote or a vote of a majority of the entire membership, why wouldn't the same vote be required to give that authority to a committee already in existence?

I believe you are correct. Additional power is not an "additional instruction." However, if the committee has reported back a recommendation, and the assembly then says "so let it be done," that is an additional instruction. It hasn't granted the committee any power - the assembly has decided to follow the recommendation, and to use the committee members as the labor, so to speak, to do it. It is not the same as saying "do whatever it is you decide."

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14 minutes ago, mmpullen said:

Edited to add: The additional instructions to the committee would require only a majority vote, per this language from page 177 of RONR: "SUBSEQUENT INSTRUCTIONS. After a question has been referred to a committee and at any time before the committee submits its report, even at another session, the assembly by a majority vote can give the committee additional instructions in reference to the referred question." But if the "additional instructions" are to give the standing committee the "authority to act on matters of a certain class without specific instructions from the assembly" which when creating such a committee seems to require on page 491 previous notice and a two-thirds vote or a vote of a majority of the entire membership, why wouldn't the same vote be required to give that authority to a committee already in existence? Applying the reasoning that these particular "additional instructions" give the committee power usually reserved for the assembly, it doesn't seem to jibe that only a majority vote would suffice. Then, again, we are talking about a committee already in existence and not the creation of a committee which is the concern on page 491.

Authorizing a committee to act “with power” is used to authorize a committee to act on particular matters, and a majority vote is sufficient for such purposes. It is indeed correct that authorizing a committee “act on matters of a certain class without specific instructions from the assembly” would require a special rule of order - but since a special rule of order cannot conflict with the bylaws, it would require an amendment to the bylaws in your case.

So to use Mr. Brown’s example, a majority vote would be sufficient to authorize a committee to take all actions necessary to hold this year’s Christmas Party, but a majority vote would not be sufficient to grant that committee power for all parties in the future.

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