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Appropriateness of Bylaws Amendment


DR Stockley
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While serving on a committee to review and propose amendments to our post by-laws, the following clause was proposed for addition to them:

Section 4:  To insert "Any motion to change rules and regulations of XXX Post XXXX that fall outside of the purview of federal, state, or local law must be read at two consecutive meetings followed by a vote after the final reading.  The Post Commander will be responsible for posting notification of motion following the first reading on post bulletin board and to any other media that is currently in use by the post." 

I'm of the opinion that the insertion of such a clause would apply to practically all motions made at regular meetings and thus restrict the memberships ability to conduct business in a timely fashion.  Since amendments to the by-laws already require a reading at two consecutive meetings with all members in good standing to be notified by first class mail before the final vote being taken requiring a 2/3's vote to pass, I don't see the need for such a clause.  This clause would, in my opinion, bypass the normal procedure for the passage of measures that normally require only a majority to adopt.

I'm curious as to your opinion of whether this is compatible with parliamentary procedures according to Robert's.  

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13 minutes ago, DR Stockley said:

I'm curious as to your opinion of whether this is compatible with parliamentary procedures according to Robert's.  

Well, it's clearly compatible in a trivial sense, since RONR provides that bylaws govern when they conflict with RONR. 

It's not clear to me that the proposed bylaw would apply to practically all motions made at regular meetings. Many motions, perhaps, adopt or change a standing rule, but most seems too strong to me. 

As to what I think of it, personally, I think that RONR reflects hundreds of years of wisdom, and has designed rules such that certain motions require notice, others do not but have their thresholds modified by notice, and yet others are not impacted by notice. It then contains yet more rules for dealing with temporary majorities. I think the collected wisdom of the authors over time is generally best, for most organizations, and superior to making it up yourself. But some organizations do have special needs.

Notice requirements are, to some extent, an attempt to strike a balance between the rights of absentees and the right of the gathered assembly to act. This proposed bylaw leans very heavily towards the absentees. There might be some special reason to do so, but in general, one thing to note about absentees is that they could have shown up.

Edited by Joshua Katz
Added sentence, then fixed mistake in that sentence, then noted reason for edit
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Thank you for your opinion, Joshua.  I think that the proposed amendment stems from a question of whether or not the club room was to be made a non-smoking area when state law did not mandate it.  The non-prevailing side of the question seem to feel that the question, although hotly debated among the member present at the time, should have been postponed until they could muster the votes they needed.  Their attempt to postpone the vote did not pass, however.

It is my belief that this particular amendment is an attempt to appease those members and to give them a means to avoid being caught short on votes should other questions arise that may be closely contested.  My concern is that once a clause such as this became part of the by-laws, it could be used to slow the normal workings of the organization.  Of course, that may not come under the purview of RONR.

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You might consider changing the proposed amendment to apply specifically just to standing rules and special rules of order that are to have a continuing effect.  A no-smoking rule, for instance is pretty clearly in the nature of a standing rule.  A motion to, say, buy free standing ash trays to place at the clubhouse entrance (or on the clubhouse back porch) is not.  It is a motion to do something once, to make a one time purchase.  A motion that members and guests must extinguish all cigarettes, cigars and tobacco products before entering the clubhouse would be in the nature of a standing rule:  It has continuing effect.

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9 minutes ago, DR Stockley said:

Thank you for your opinion, Joshua.  I think that the proposed amendment stems from a question of whether or not the club room was to be made a non-smoking area when state law did not mandate it.  The non-prevailing side of the question seem to feel that the question, although hotly debated among the member present at the time, should have been postponed until they could muster the votes they needed.  Their attempt to postpone the vote did not pass, however.

 

It would seem odd to postpone all motions after deciding not to postpone one. But hey, people do what they do. 

 

35 minutes ago, DR Stockley said:

My concern is that once a clause such as this became part of the by-laws, it could be used to slow the normal workings of the organization.  Of course, that may not come under the purview of RONR.

Well, I'm not sure what purview means here. RONR doesn't have rules about what's in your bylaws (but it has suggestions) because your bylaws outrank it. 

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9 hours ago, DR Stockley said:

 

Section 4:  To insert "Any motion to change rules and regulations of XXX Post XXXX that fall outside of the purview of federal, state, or local law must be read at two consecutive meetings followed by a vote after the final reading.  The Post Commander will be responsible for posting notification of motion following the first reading on post bulletin board and to any other media that is currently in use by the post." 

.  

 

This would apply motions that change the rules, i.e. a motion to Amend Something Previously Adopted.  It would not apply to all main motions.  For rules of order (p. 15) ,  RONR mandates a two-thirds vote with previous notice or a majority of the entire membership.

There nothing improper about adopting this rule.  

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  • Dan Honemann changed the title to Appropriateness of Bylaws Amendment

Thank you all for your advice.  I think I'm going to suggest that the clause be changed to:

Section 4:  To insert "Any motion to adopt, amend or abolish a standing rule and /or special rule of order of the Post must be read at two consecutive meetings followed by a vote after the final reading.  Notice of the proposed motion shall be posted on the post bulletin board and to any other media that is currently in use by the post for keeping the members informed of post news and activities."

before submission to the membership.  

Thank you all again.  I'll let you all know of the results.

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