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Tomm
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At the next board meeting the Board will be making a motion to amend the bylaws so that RONR "may" be the parliamentary authority instead of "shall." The Article of Incorporation gives them the authority to amend the bylaws on their own!

Based on that I would say that RONR is no longer the parliamentary authority of the organization, and no other authority is being suggested.

Question: So if I got this right, that means that the board established Standing Committees (as well as all other committees) also loses RONR as their parliamentary authority because those committees operate under the Bylaws as stated in 50:26?

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On 9/24/2021 at 11:30 AM, Tomm said:

Based on that I would say that RONR is no longer the parliamentary authority of the organization, and no other authority is being suggested.

I'm not certain this is correct. If the bylaws say something about RONR as the parliamentary authority, it does not seem reasonable to conclude that "RONR is no longer the parliamentary authority." That would be accomplished by simply removing the language regarding a parliamentary authority altogether (or providing for some other authority).

I am not entirely certain what it does mean to say that RONR "may" be the parliamentary authority (especially since I have not seen the exact language), but I would assume it is one of the following:

1) Either the society as a whole or each individual assembly may determine that RONR shall (or shall not) be the parliamentary authority.

2) Either the society as a whole or each individual assembly is granted the power to deviate from RONR in particular instances in its discretion, even in cases where this would otherwise not be permitted. (Or in other words, RONR is "persuasive" on matters of parliamentary procedure, but not "binding.")

It might also be reasonable to conclude that these things might require only a majority vote, rather than the vote normally required to adopt special rules of order or to suspend the rules.

On 9/24/2021 at 11:30 AM, Tomm said:

Question: So if I got this right, that means that the board established Standing Committees (as well as all other committees) also loses RONR as their parliamentary authority because those committees operate under the Bylaws as stated in 50:26?

As I have noted above, I don't think it is as necessarily as simple as saying that RONR is "lost" as the parliamentary authority.

Regarding the question of whether the rule is also applicable to committees, however, I have not seen the rule in question, but generally speaking, a rule in the bylaws regarding the parliamentary authority is applicable to the entire society and all assemblies and committees within it.

Edited by Josh Martin
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On 9/25/2021 at 1:07 PM, Josh Martin said:

2) Either the society as a whole or each individual assembly is granted the power to deviate from RONR in particular instances in its discretion, even in cases where this would otherwise not be permitted. (Or in other words, RONR is "persuasive" on matters of parliamentary procedure, but not "binding.")

It just seems to me that when the bylaws say "shall" they're really not leaving any option? Isn't that what other bylaws and special rules are for, to take precedence over RONR?

When the bylaws say "may" it becomes a question, (at least in my mind) of who then decides which RONR they follow and which ones they don't. And what if there are varying opinions within the assembly? And will those decisions change with every different situation, or who the rule is affecting?

The only conclusion I can come too is whether the rules apply to everybody or only a selected few at a selected time? Therefore RONR doesn't really provide parliamentary authority that it was intended to provide?

 

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On 9/25/2021 at 8:07 PM, Tomm said:

It just seems to me that when the bylaws say "shall" they're really not leaving any option?

Yes, if the bylaws provide that RONR "shall" be the parliamentary authority, then RONR is the parliamentary authority. This obviously is the preferable rule.

Certainly "RONR may be the parliamentary authority" doesn't mean the same thing as "RONR shall be the parliamentary authority." All I'm saying is that interpreting "RONR may be the parliamentary authority" as "RONR is not the parliamentary authority" doesn't make sense either. In your original post, you said that RONR is "lost" as the parliamentary authority for the society, and I think that statement goes too far.

On 9/25/2021 at 8:07 PM, Tomm said:

Isn't that what other bylaws and special rules are for, to take precedence over RONR?

Yes.

On 9/25/2021 at 8:07 PM, Tomm said:

When the bylaws say "may" it becomes a question, (at least in my mind) of who then decides which RONR they follow and which ones they don't. 

Yes, I think that an interpretation that some portions of RONR will be followed and others will not is one reasonable interpretation of what this rule means.

It would likely be prudent to ask the drafters of this rule what they intend to accomplish by it.

On 9/25/2021 at 8:07 PM, Tomm said:

And what if there are varying opinions within the assembly?

In the absence of any rule to the contrary, presumably such a decision would be made by the assembly itself by majority vote, since that is one of the most basic foundations not only underlying RONR, but also parliamentary law generally.

That is the way things work in societies which have no parliamentary authority at all, in the absence of a rule of the society to the contrary. RONR could still be cited in such circumstances as persuasive, but not binding.

"A deliberative assembly that has not adopted any rules is commonly understood to hold itself bound by the rules and customs of the general parliamentary law - or common parliamentary law (as discussed in the Introduction) - to the extent that there is agreement in the meeting body as to what these rules and practices are." RONR (12th ed.) 1:5

"Although it is unwise for an assembly or a society to attempt to function without formally adopted rules of order, a recognized parliamentary manual may be cited under such conditions as persuasive. Or, by being followed through long-established custom in an organization, a particular manual may acquire a status within the body similar to that of an adopted parliamentary authority." RONR (12th ed.) 2:19

On 9/25/2021 at 8:07 PM, Tomm said:

And will those decisions change with every different situation, or who the rule is affecting?

One would hope not, but it's certainly possible. Such possibilities are why it is advisable for a society to have rules.

"And whether these forms be in all cases the most rational or not is really not of so great importance. It is much more material that there should be a rule to go by than what that rule is; that there may be a uniformity of proceeding in business not subject to the caprice of the Speaker or captiousness of the members. It is very material that order, decency, and regularity be preserved in a dignified public body." (Manual of Parliamentary Practice, Thomas Jefferson, Section 1)

On 9/25/2021 at 8:07 PM, Tomm said:

The only conclusion I can come too is whether the rules apply to everybody or only a selected few at a selected time? Therefore RONR doesn't really provide parliamentary authority that it was intended to provide?

Yes, I think saying that a rule which provides that RONR may be the parliamentary authority means that it "doesn't really provide parliamentary authority that it was intended to provide" is a more accurate statement.

Edited by Josh Martin
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On 9/24/2021 at 12:30 PM, Tomm said:

At the next board meeting the Board will be making a motion to amend the bylaws so that RONR "may" be the parliamentary authority instead of "shall." The Article of Incorporation gives them the authority to amend the bylaws on their own!

I suppose it is possible that somewhere there is, or has been, an example of a person or persons supporting a change to the bylaws to remove or weaken the authority of RONR over the business of the organization, without having any nefarious ulterior motives for doing so.

It's just that I have never run across an example of it in real life.

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On 9/27/2021 at 4:26 PM, Gary Novosielski said:

It's just that I have never run across an example of it in real life.

Well Mr. Novosielski, your record still holds true because I can honestly say the reason behind this little maneuver is quite nefarious!  

I guess you can't be accused of violating RONR if they aren't your "official" parliamentary authority? But it's amazing how the board uses RONR against the Membership when it works to their own advantage!

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