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Amending proposed bylaws "amendment" from the floor


Guest RROnoob
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Hoping for some help for a real newbie here.  Please be kind, I've tried googling the answer, but I need something concrete.

My organization followed proper notice for amending bylaws.  When about to put the proposed bylaws to a vote, a member wanted to "amend the amendment" as he is putting it, by tacking on another amendment.  He states that he can do this because he's not amending the bylaws, and therefore doesn't have to follow the 10 day notice rule.  He's amending the organizations bylaws amendment, allowing him to do it from the floor.  His reason for doing this is plainly to avoid a supermajority vote on the piece that he's amending.

Is this allowed?  My layman's interpretation is this a) he's wrong, bylaws are a special amendment type, and he must follow that procedure of notice.  And if he's not wrong then b) his amendment isn't germane to the amendments at hand.  Or maybe I'm wrong and this is allowed?

I've seen discussion from dummies books online, but I can't find citations to back me up.  I could really use some help from a kind, more knowledgeable soul than I.  

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Well, you are mostly right, but possibly wrong  --  it depends on the content of the second amendment.

If that second amendment was to some other portion of the bylaws, different from what the properly noticed (first) amendment dealt with, then that second amendment was clearly out of order (for more than one reason).

However, since it is proper to amend an amendment (even without notice of that second change) as long as the content of the second amendment deals directly with the content of the first one, your friend may have been within his rights.

 RONR, page 594ff, covers this.

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Guest Guest RROnoob

It was something wildly different.  There were two non-substantive issues being amended (meeting times and mailing).  He was/is trying to change another portion of the bylaws entirely, a substantive portion (how committee heads are appointed.)

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I'm sorry to be a bother further.  I'm going to B&N to pick up a copy today, but have a meeting on this issue before it opens. There don't seem to be kindle versions of RRNO available.  What's on 598?  How does it settle this issue?  Is there a text citation I could bring somewhere for the moment?

I really appreciate your help.  We're a super small organization and this person is taking advantage of our inexperience by trying to sound authoritative, but without substance.

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Oh wait, are you saying 598 covers why he would be wrong, right, or both?  He clearly falls into your first scenario where you state he's out of order for many reasons.  What are they?  

I really apologize for not knowing more.  We've never really needed RRO beyond basics, and this person is trying to weaponize them against us.

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The first reason - and you caught it - is that your friend's amendment was not germane to the pending (properly previously noticed) amendment under consideration.  Raise a point of order at the meeting (and be sure to bring friends with you to back you up).

And the other reason is that your friend's amendment did not get a proper notice.  If your friends amendment had been germane to the pending (noticed) amendment, it would have been perfectly proper.

See if B&N has a copy of RONRIB:

"Roberts Rules of Order Newly Revised In Brief", Updated Second Edition (Da Capo Press, Perseus Books Group, 2011). It is a splendid summary of all the rules you will ever need in all but the most exceptional situations. And only $7.50! You can read it in an evening. Get both RONRIB and RONR (scroll down) at this link: 

http://www.robertsrules.com/inbrief.html

Or in your local bookstore.

It might be just what the parliamentarian ordered. 

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Based upon what you have posted, you are clearly right when you say that his amendment is not in order because it isn't germane to the motion which it proposes to amend.

Even if an amendment to a proposed bylaw amendment is germane (and the one to which you refer clearly is not), it is not in order if it increases the modification of the article or provision to be amended …"  (RONR, 11th ed., p. 595; see also p. 306, ll. 18-23)

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I'll grab both.

Re prior notice:  His claim is that he could make his amendment from the floor because "amending amendments doesn't require notice" and that what the board was submitting (amended bylaws) were not bylaws but rather amendments.  Ergo, he claims, he doesn't have to follow our 10 days notice for amending bylaws since he claims he's not amending the bylaws, but rather the amendments. But he's not right?  Especially since he's not altering the board's text.  He's offering entirely new text.

Outside of that, is there an actual citation for the germane amendment issue?  His big thing is either a) looking at a citation and twisting it to his viewpoint based on a single word or b) it's not written in the bylaws/RRO, ergo I can do it even if it flies in the face of decency and prior precedent.  But I'm thinking of taking a page from his book.  To amend means to "make minor changes in (a text) in order to make it fairer, more accurate, or more up-to-date."  What he was offering wasn't an amendment, but a wholesale change. Correct?  I realize you don't have the specifics.  It's the difference in the definition of amendment and amend.  The board has amendments, he's performing the act of amending (though not really).

He sounds super convincing when he talks, and others don't have the time to look into it, so they fall in line.  He's operating in completely bad faith.  He intentionally kept people in the dark and rallied his own people to come to the vote meeting so that they could get a simple majority (pass an amendment) rather than a supermajority (pass amended bylaws).  

If anything, I feel  he should be censured in some way for his bad faith actions to subvert our bylaws.  Yet others see him as a hero, standing up for the voiceless.  We've never had anyone act like this before.  It's terrible.

thanks for your assistance.  if there's a charity you like, I"m happy to donate on your behalf.

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13 minutes ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

Based upon what you have posted, you are clearly right when you say that his amendment is not in order because it isn't germane to the motion which it proposes to amend.

Even if an amendment to a proposed bylaw amendment is germane (and the one to which you refer clearly is not), it is not in order if it increases the modification of the article or provision to be amended …"  (RONR, 11th ed., p. 595; see also p. 306, ll. 18-23)

Thanks Daniel.  Same offer to you as to jstack.  If there's a charity out there, I'm happy to donate for your help.  

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So assuming he won't listen to reason in a private meeting about the issue, should we redo the vote on the proposed bylaws in the issue of fairness (wink wink)?  Let him raise it again, make a motion that his amendment is out of order b/c it is not germane. Get a 2nd, then a majority vote regarding the germaneness of the amendment. Fin.  Everyone was so caught off guard, it wasn't handled by the book, so to speak.

Or just let it be and let him appeal the decision should he wish knowing he's wrong? 

 

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Presuming  (you didn't say, or I didn't catch it) that all those amendments were adopted (or defeated, for that matter), it is now too late (RONR p 250) to raise a point of order about the procedural errors that were made in the meeting.  But check p. 251  (lots of reading assignments here!) to double check if any of the "continuing breach" criteria were met, which would allow a later point of order.  From what you have said, that seems unlikely.

The amendments, if adopted, are now in place.  If you don't like the content of the (newly amended) bylaws, you are free to propose further amendments to the bylaws, following the  procedure for doing so.   There is no provision for "re-doing" votes on bylaws - amendments go into effect right away, upon adoption.

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No, you should not "redo the vote".

If this phony "amendment" was declared to have been adopted, a point of order can be raised at any time that this action, which is an action taken in violation of a rule protecting absentees (the notice requirement), is null and void (RONR, 11th ed., p. 251). This assumes that the entire membership was not present at the time this took place.

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5 hours ago, Guest RROnoob said:

Hoping for some help for a real newbie here.  Please be kind, I've tried googling the answer, but I need something concrete.

My organization followed proper notice for amending bylaws.  When about to put the proposed bylaws to a vote, a member wanted to "amend the amendment" as he is putting it, by tacking on another amendment.  He states that he can do this because he's not amending the bylaws, and therefore doesn't have to follow the 10 day notice rule.  He's amending the organizations bylaws amendment, allowing him to do it from the floor.  His reason for doing this is plainly to avoid a supermajority vote on the piece that he's amending.

Is this allowed?  My layman's interpretation is this a) he's wrong, bylaws are a special amendment type, and he must follow that procedure of notice.  And if he's not wrong then b) his amendment isn't germane to the amendments at hand.  Or maybe I'm wrong and this is allowed?

I've seen discussion from dummies books online, but I can't find citations to back me up.  I could really use some help from a kind, more knowledgeable soul than I.  

This is a question relating to what's called "Scope of Notice".   It's a somewhat complex subject, but it does make sense.

First, this is not an ''amendment to an amendment".  What we call a proposed bylaws "amendment" is actually a Main Motion--a proposal to change the bylaws.  Because such proposals require previous notice, any amendments offered from the floor must stay within the scope of the original notice, or they are out of order.

If the offered amendment is in order, it requires only a majority to agree to it, but that does not avoid the final "supermajority" vote on the main motion as amended.  

It will require some study to understand Scope of Notice, but it may help to ask yourself this question:  If any member had received the original notice, and decided that the motion was one that did not make it worth his while to attend the meeting, would knowing that this amendment would be offered from the floor have changed his mind, so that he might have decided to attend in order to defeat or support the amendment?

For example, if I received proper notice of a proposal to give the 2nd Vice President the power to choose the color of the paint in the clubhouse game room, I might not find that important enough to show up.  But if you offered an amendment that would expand that power to allow the 2VP to keep chickens in the game room, that could certainly change my mind.  Such an amendment exceeds the scope of the notice, and should be ruled out of order.  But an amendment to limit the color choices to a certain class of colors or to a list to be provided by the Building and Grounds committee stays within the scope of the notice, and should probably be allowed.

 

Edited by Gary Novosielski
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1 hour ago, Gary Novosielski said:

It will require some study to understand Scope of Notice, but it may help to ask yourself this question:  If any member had received the original notice, and decided that the motion was one that did not make it worth his while to attend the meeting, would knowing that this amendment would be offered from the floor have changed his mind, so that he might have decided to attend in order to defeat or support the amendment?

The original poster has stated that the proposed amendment was not even germane to the bylaw amendment. If this is correct, then it certainly was not within the scope of notice, as germaneness is a much more forgiving standard than scope of notice.

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7 hours ago, Josh Martin said:

The original poster has stated that the proposed amendment was not even germane to the bylaw amendment. If this is correct, then it certainly was not within the scope of notice, as germaneness is a much more forgiving standard than scope of notice.

Sure, I agree.  My response was intended to cover a few of the other issues, mostly for future reference.

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