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Status of referred motion not reached in convention


paulmcclintock
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An annual convention refers a motion to its standing bylaws committee one year, and at the next year's convention, the committee does not report on it, and the convention does not discharge the committee from considering it. Upon adjourning sine die, what is the status of the motion?

21:7(c) says "Matters temporarily but not finally disposed of, except those that remain in the hands of a committee to which they have been referred, fall to the ground."

Does this except...referred rule apply only to items referred during the current annual convention, or will this referred motion forever be in the hands of the committee until reported or discharged or irrelevant?

Paul McCintock

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Mr. McClintock, I hesitate to respond only because I don't know what reason you might have for thinking that this motion would not remain in the hands of the standing committee to which it was referred.  I assume we have all of the relevant facts.

I'll admit, however, that it is somewhat difficult to understand how a motion can remain within the control of an assembly that has been dissolved.  🙂

 

Edited by Dan Honemann
Deleted the last paragraph which I had added the last time I edited. .
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Dan,

A convention last year considered a bylaw amendment reported by the bylaw committee. The convention referred it back to the bylaw committee for further consideration. In preparation for the upcoming convention this year, the current bylaw committee wants to "kill" the motion, and as an alternate to reporting back with a recommendation that it not be adopted, they are considering not reporting it back at all.  If they do not report it, and if the convention this year does not discharge the committee from consideration of it, does it remain in the committee for another year, and perhaps "forever," in which case no other conflicting new bylaw amendments can be considered?

It seems to me that the bylaw amendment has been temporarily disposed of and carried from one annual convention (last year) to another (this year).  It did not "fall to the ground" upon adjournment last year per 21:7(c) which says "Matters temporarily but not finally disposed of, except those that remain in the hands of a committee to which they have been referred, fall to the ground."

A similar situation would exist if a convention "ran out of time" and adjourned before the committee could report on it.

At NAP conventions, bylaw amendments are not generally referred by the convention to the committee, and any bylaw amendments that are not reached before adjournment fall to the ground.  But in this case that I'm presenting, a bylaw amendment being considered by the convention last year was referred back to the bylaw committee, and the wording of 21:7(c) seems to me can be interpreted to say it remains in control of the committee "forever" until either (a) the committee reports it back to some later convention, or (b) some later convention discharges their consideration of it.  But I'm uncomfortable with that interpretation; it doesn't seem "right."  Thus my question to this forum.

My preferred way to read the 21:7(c) rule would be that the referral had to be in the "current" meeting, or else it would fall to the ground upon adjournment.  But that isn't explicit, and could be reasonably argued against, I think.

 

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On 2/1/2022 at 9:20 AM, Dan Honemann said:

When the motion was referred back to the committee, was it referred back with instructions to report at the next convention?

Probably not explicitly, but they probably all were expecting that.  So, assume the answer is "no."

 

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For the life of me I cannot see what difference it makes whether an organization has elected to conduct its business via convention, periodic assemblies, or a board. The committee in question is still a permanent committee of the organization and would hold the referred matter until the next assembly meeting and then report its recommendations regardless of the nature of the higher assembly. Had the committee been a temporary committee of a convention, then I can see its business fall to the ground at convention adjournment. If this were not true the new convention delegates would be totally surprised to discover that a matter had been referred to the Credentials Committee the year before and now by way of interpretation it has never been dissolved and all the previous delegates from the year before are suddenly walking in.

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On 2/1/2022 at 9:07 PM, paulmcclintock said:

Probably not explicitly, but they probably all were expecting that.  So, assume the answer is "no."

 

Well, we seem to be assuming quite a bit here, and so I remain somewhat hesitant in responding because I'm having a great deal of trouble understanding how this is going to happen as a practical matter. 

You posit a situation (hypothetical we assume) in which, at an organization's annual convention, a pending motion to amend the organization's bylaws is referred back to its standing committee on bylaws for further consideration, with the expectation that it will be reported back at next year's convention. You say that, in preparation for the upcoming convention, the committee "wants to 'kill' the motion, and as an alternate to reporting back with a recommendation that it not be adopted, they are considering not reporting it back at all." 

I have to pause right here to say that, assuming the rules in RONR are controlling, this does not appear to be a viable option. It is this committee's duty to report this motion back to the next convention, with whatever recommendation it decides to make.  I think that the organization's officers and its Program Committee will certainly have something to say about this. 

You say that a similar situation would exist if a convention ran out of time and adjourned sine die before the committee could report, and I much prefer to respond to this. If the rules in RONR are controlling, I think that, in such a case, the motion remains in the hands of the committee, which has a duty to report it back to the next convention.

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On 2/2/2022 at 4:11 AM, Dan Honemann said:

It is this committee's duty to report this motion back to the next convention, with whatever recommendation it decides to make.

You say that a similar situation would exist if a convention ran out of time and adjourned sine die before the committee could report, and I much prefer to respond to this. If the rules in RONR are controlling, I think that, in such a case, the motion remains in the hands of the committee, which has a duty to report it back to the next convention.

Certainly it is the committee's duty.  But the question is on the status of the motion if the duty is not performed (whether deliberately or inadvertently).

The discussion so far here supports my initial reading of the rules and DH's statement, "the motion remains in the hands of the committee, which has a duty to report it back to the next convention"; which shifts my focus on the problem that this can create.

I can envision the bylaw committee forgetting all about the motion, possibly multiple years, and a second bylaw amendment in conflict with it being proposed at a later convention.  I would think that a point of order could be made at the time (I think it would have to be timely) that the second bylaw amendment could not be considered until the first amendment had been disposed of.  But if no point is raised and the 2nd bylaw amendment is adopted, then it legitimately stands adopted. And that the first bylaw amendment is still in the hands of the committee, and could be reported at any convention it remembered to do so.

Or am I missing something?

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Perhaps section 57:1(4) has something to do with this subject:

Quote

4) The rule that, when a main motion is adopted, no other conflicting main motion is thereafter in order is not applicable to the motion to amend the bylaws, since several notices of proposals representing different approaches to the same problem may have been given, and all such bylaw amendments are entitled to be considered (see 57:6-8).

The assembly could refer a bunch of conflicting bylaws changes and they would remain with the committee until reported or discharged.

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