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Understanding SCOPE for amending a proposal - Beach Canopies


John Cummings
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Hi,

I recently had a discussion here about making amendments at our annual meeting. The RONR scholars here explained to me why they are allowed and this thing called SCOPE. My contention is that unless you are a RONR scholar that nobody understands SCOPE.

This is an exact article from our annual meeting and 3  make believe amendments to help me understand scope when it isn't obvious.

Example Proposal:   Approval to spend up to $20,000 to add 10 canopies to the beach area.

Here are two made up proposals that I think are out of SCOPE, but I'm not sure.  These BOTH would be allowed at our annual meeting.

Amendment 1) - Amend this to increase the amount to $25,000.    You have already explained to me this is out of scope as the scope is $0-$20,000 here. This is the easy one.

Amendment 2) - Amend to add 10 firepits to this proposal.       I beleve this is also OUT OF SCOPE, but I'm not certain and I can assure you once again that this amendment would pass and nobody would even question the scope.

Amendment 3)  - Amend to add 10 firepits and increase the Amount to $25,000.    I believe this amendment is illegal for 2 reasons, but again not sure. 1) The dollar amount is out of scope.   2) adding firepits changes the entire article.

What do you think?

Thanks as usual
John Cummings

 

Edited by John Cummings
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On 9/22/2022 at 8:45 AM, George Mervosh said:

Is the motion in question an original main motion or one that amends something previously adopted?

This was a petition article on our annual meeting voting agenda for a proposed change for arguments sake, let's say this was a bylaw change. According to the NH Condo Act and our bylaws was mailed to all owners 21 days in advance as required. 

Not sure I answered your question so editing.

This was an original motion for something new. The bylaw doesn't already exist in our documents.  This is making me think of another question and also is telling me we need one you RONR scholars at our annual meeting lol.

Thanks,
John

Edited by John Cummings
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On 9/22/2022 at 5:26 AM, John Cummings said:

Amendment 2) - Amend to add 10 firepits to this proposal.       I beleve this is also OUT OF SCOPE, but I'm not certain and I can assure you once again that this amendment would pass and nobody would even question the scope.

Here's the way to think about scope of notice: if you received the notice, and did not attend the meeting, would you be surprised to learn that it happened? 

If the notice said we might spend $20,000, you'd be surprised, as you noted, to see that $25,000 was spent. The same is true here - the notice said we may or may not add 10 canopies. Adding 5, okay, I expected even more, not surprised. But firepits? Where did those come from? You're surprised. So it's out of scope.

What Mr. Mervosh is pointing out, though, is that amendments to an original main motion need not be in scope of anything, as (typically) original main motions do not require notice, and notice does not change their voting thresholds. Is there some reason this motion does require notice?

Note that, sometimes, an amendment out of scope is permitted, but changes the voting threshold, while other times (when notice is required) it is not permitted.

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On 9/22/2022 at 9:51 AM, Joshua Katz said:

Here's the way to think about scope of notice: if you received the notice, and did not attend the meeting, would you be surprised to learn that it happened? 

If the notice said we might spend $20,000, you'd be surprised, as you noted, to see that $25,000 was spent. The same is true here - the notice said we may or may not add 10 canopies. Adding 5, okay, I expected even more, not surprised. But firepits? Where did those come from? You're surprised. So it's out of scope.

What Mr. Mervosh is pointing out, though, is that amendments to an original main motion need not be in scope of anything, as (typically) original main motions do not require notice, and notice does not change their voting thresholds. Is there some reason this motion does require notice?

Note that, sometimes, an amendment out of scope is permitted, but changes the voting threshold, while other times (when notice is required) it is not permitted.

That is absolutely the most clear answer I have ever heard explaining this too me.  You have explained this for regular folks like me, with minimal knowledge or RONR can understand.  This answer is an absolute home run.

So, using your explanation. Here is how I would interpret my amendments.

1)  Illegal and out of scope because I would certainly be surprised if the amount increased in any way shape of form.

2) Still vague, but I think out of Scope since I would be a "little" surprised to hear this, but not sure if I would object to it.  So this one still is in the grey area to me. Would you agree?

3) Illegal and out of Scope, but not sure my reasons are valid.  This is certainly out of scope for the $$$ amount, but is adding firepits a surprise or a possible expectation.

I have perhaps a poor analogy.  You are either pregnant or not.  You can't be a little bit pregnant.  So, using that analogy I guess I am a little surprised, but not shocked, but  I am surprised, so I would say that all my amendments are OUT OF SCOPE.

You have helped tremedously, but I still have the questions I mentioned.

Thanks
John

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On 9/22/2022 at 10:25 AM, George Mervosh said:

But, Mr. Cummings, you have stated that this is an original main motion, so you are not presenting a set of facts where the scope of notice applies, at least as far as I can tell.  

Sorry, but this stuff is complicated and I might have answered your question incorrectly due to my confusion. I edited my answer to you and thought I made it clear but perhaps not.

The article related to the proposed amendment was on our annual agenda voting ballot that was mailed.  Sorry, but I do not understand exactly what you are asking me.

From a laymans point of view, I would answer you that the article that is subject to the proposed on floor amendments is an "original" main motion.  Actually, it probably isn't a motion at all, ,since it is a petition article sent out on the agenga.  I would change that answer to say that the Article is an "original article" but I don't think it is a motion at all.

I think you and I are speaking on a different intelligence level here, not to insult myself, but it is true.  

Maybe I was not even clear in my other post on amendments.

Thanks

John

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On 9/22/2022 at 9:25 AM, George Mervosh said:

But, Mr. Cummings, you have stated that this is an original main motion, so you are not presenting a set of facts where the scope of notice applies, at least as far as I can tell.  

@John Cummings, agreeing with Mr. Mervosh, I'm curious as to why "scope of notice" is an issue.  Is this proposal one for which previous notice was given or required?   If so, scope of notice might be applicable, but under different rules than those which apply to scope of notice of a bylaw amendment.  I'm assuming it is a regular original main motion, not an incidental main motion such as a proposed bylaw amendment.  I'm also  assuming it is not a motion to amend something previously adopted. 

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On 9/22/2022 at 9:15 AM, John Cummings said:

2) Still vague, but I think out of Scope since I would be a "little" surprised to hear this, but not sure if I would object to it.  So this one still is in the grey area to me. Would you agree?

No, I think it's clear that notice that there might be canopies purchased does not give notice that firepits may be purchased.

On 9/22/2022 at 9:39 AM, John Cummings said:

From a laymans point of view, I would answer you that the article that is subject to the proposed on floor amendments is an "original" main motion.  Actually, it probably isn't a motion at all, ,since it is a petition article sent out on the agenga.  I would change that answer to say that the Article is an "original article" but I don't think it is a motion at all.

An original main motion proposes to take some action unrelated to prior actions or to parliamentary procedure. It appears to me that, if I were told nothing else, the motion here would be an original main motion. And original main motions do not require notice, so scope is irrelevant.

BUT

On 9/22/2022 at 9:39 AM, John Cummings said:

The article related to the proposed amendment was on our annual agenda voting ballot that was mailed.  Sorry, but I do not understand exactly what you are asking me.

So it seems your organization has its own rules allowing vote by mail on certain topics, which are nonetheless also voted on at the meeting (seemingly). Perhaps you can tell us more about how this works. I'm not sure that the concept of scope of notice will interact in any nice way with rules allowing for a vote before the meeting. For that reason, RONR advises that no rules be adopted allowing voting on a matter both in-person and ahead of time by mail.

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At this point I am at a loss as to exactly what the situation is and what this "article" business is all about.  I'm also not sure whether this "article" is something to be debated and possibly amended and then voted on at a meeting or if the voting is via mail or both. This "article" sure sounds like a motion, but according to the OP it might not be.  And I'm not sure how or why scope of notice is an issue if it is an original main motion and not a bylaw amendment or amending something previously adopted. 

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On 9/22/2022 at 10:45 AM, Richard Brown said:

@John Cummings, agreeing with Mr. Mervosh, I'm curious as to why "scope of notice" is an issue.  Is this proposal one for which previous notice was given or required?   If so, scope of notice might be applicable, but under different rules than those which apply to scope of notice of a bylaw amendment.  I'm assuming it is a regular original main motion, not an incidental main motion such as a proposed bylaw amendment.  I'm also  assuming it is not a motion to amend something previously adopted. 

Thanks,

This is a great discussion for me.  I applogize if I'm confusing anyone with my posts or answers. I'm trying to educate myself.

I had another completely different thread that was related to "scope of notice".   This thread is related to "scope of amendment" to a proposed article on the annual agenda that was mailed as required by the Condo act and our bylaws 21 days in advance.  

Are you now saying that amending an original article that required a 21 day notice would be illegal?  That was what I thought and was told by 2 lawyers.

Thanks

John

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On 9/22/2022 at 5:26 AM, John Cummings said:

I recently had a discussion here about making amendments at our annual meeting. The RONR scholars here explained to me why they are allowed and this thing called SCOPE. My contention is that unless you are a RONR scholar that nobody understands SCOPE.

This is an exact article from our annual meeting and 3  make believe amendments to help me understand scope when it isn't obvious.

Example Proposal:   Approval to spend up to $20,000 to add 10 canopies to the beach area.

For starters, do the organization's bylaws require previous notice for the motion in question (or lower the threshold for adoption if such notice is provided)? RONR would not require previous notice for the motion described here and such notice would not lower the threshold for adoption. As a result, the concept of scope would not be applicable to this motion, and any amendments would be in order so long as they are germane (which is a much broader criteria).

The concept of scope of notice is generally applicable to motions to Amend Something Previously Adopted, particularly for amendments to the bylaws.

On 9/22/2022 at 5:26 AM, John Cummings said:

Here are two made up proposals that I think are out of SCOPE, but I'm not sure.  These BOTH would be allowed at our annual meeting.

Amendment 1) - Amend this to increase the amount to $25,000.    You have already explained to me this is out of scope as the scope is $0-$20,000 here. This is the easy one.

Amendment 2) - Amend to add 10 firepits to this proposal.       I beleve this is also OUT OF SCOPE, but I'm not certain and I can assure you once again that this amendment would pass and nobody would even question the scope.

Amendment 3)  - Amend to add 10 firepits and increase the Amount to $25,000.    I believe this amendment is illegal for 2 reasons, but again not sure. 1) The dollar amount is out of scope.   2) adding firepits changes the entire article.

As I understand the facts, under the rules of RONR, the concept of scope of notice is not applicable here, and the rule of germaneness is controlling. All three amendments are germane. Germaneness is about whether an amendment is related to the subject matter of the main motion, as all three of these amendments clearly are.

On 9/22/2022 at 9:58 AM, John Cummings said:

I had another completely different thread that was related to "scope of notice".   This thread is related to "scope of amendment" to a proposed article on the annual agenda that was mailed as required by the Condo act and our bylaws 21 days in advance.  

Are you now saying that amending an original article that required a 21 day notice would be illegal?  That was what I thought and was told by 2 lawyers.

Based on these additional facts, it would seem to me that this matter is controlled by applicable law, and therefore questions concerning in what manner the proposals may be amended (if at all) will be a question for an attorney. Rules found in state law will take precedence over RONR.

Edited by Josh Martin
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On 9/22/2022 at 10:55 AM, Richard Brown said:

At this point I am at a loss as to exactly what the situation is and what this "article" business is all about.  I'm also not sure whether this "article" is something to be debated and possibly amended and then voted on at a meeting or if the voting is via mail or both. This "article" sure sounds like a motion, but according to the OP it might not be.  And I'm not sure how or why scope of notice is an issue if it is an original main motion and not a bylaw amendment or amending something previously adopted. 


Thanks Richard,

And this is my main point of contention.  If you are at a loss, how do you think our annual meeting goes - lol.   I'm a novice for certain, but I also know more about RONR than 99% of the owners.

This is why I'm against allowing amendments on the floor of the annual meeting.  Nobody understands scope and we(you and I) seem to be talking apples and oranges.  You are looking at this entirely as a Robert's Rules issue and perhaps that is correct as this, after all, is a Robert's rules forum.   I'm looking at this as to how Robert's rules integrates with our Annual meeting process.

Not sure how else to describe our process.  We have voting "articles" on our annual meeting agenda. These articles could be something created by our Board of Directors or perhaps by an owners petition.  At the point we are creating "articles" roberts rules does not even enter the throught process.   These articles are then presented at our annual meeting which is goverened by Robert's rules and legal or illegal, they DO get amended on the floor. It is at the annual meeting and only at the annual meeting where Robert's rules comes into play.

Now I'm wondering about the 21 day notice requirement and if amending articles that require 21 day notice is legal at all.  I have a headache - lol

Sorry, but I'm trying to explain the best I can and will continue to clarify if I can.

Thanks

John

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On 9/22/2022 at 10:45 AM, Joshua Katz said:

So it seems your organization has its own rules allowing vote by mail on certain topics, which are nonetheless also voted on at the meeting (seemingly). Perhaps you can tell us more about how this works. I'm not sure that the concept of scope of notice will interact in any nice way with rules allowing for a vote before the meeting. For that reason, RONR advises that no rules be adopted allowing voting on a matter both in-person and ahead of time by mail.

Thanks,

No, all of our voting is done at the annual meeting and these amendments make it pure chaos because of lack of order and the rush to vote on things.  We have 2 articles, yes I'm calling them articles because that is how they are defined on our agenda that were amended twice. I was so confused as were most owners that all we could do is vote no.

Thanks for the clarification on the other things in this reply.  Very helpful and I think we have been wrong for years.

Thanks

JOhn

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On 9/22/2022 at 9:58 AM, John Cummings said:

I had another completely different thread that was related to "scope of notice".   This thread is related to "scope of amendment" to a proposed article on the annual agenda that was mailed as required by the Condo act and our bylaws 21 days in advance.  

Well, there is no such term as "scope of amendment." There's whether an amendment is germane, which all three of those discussed are, and there's scope of notice, which applies when amending something for which notice has been given.

 

On 9/22/2022 at 9:58 AM, John Cummings said:

Are you now saying that amending an original article that required a 21 day notice would be illegal?  That was what I thought and was told by 2 lawyers.

That's a question for your Condo Act.

On 9/22/2022 at 10:10 AM, John Cummings said:

Now I'm wondering about the 21 day notice requirement and if amending articles that require 21 day notice is legal at all.  I have a headache - lol

We can't answer that. If the rules in RONR apply, such amendments are not necessarily out of order. Understanding the effect of the statute requires conferring with an attorney.

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On 9/22/2022 at 10:13 AM, John Cummings said:

We have 2 articles, yes I'm calling them articles because that is how they are defined on our agenda that were amended twice.

Why are they called "articles" in your agenda?  Is that term used in your bylaws, articles of incorporation, Declaration, state law or other controlling rules? In the world of parliamentary procedure, people make, debate and vote on motions, not articles.  I have no idea what these "articles" are or why they are called "articles" instead of motions. I have no idea how they might differ from ordinary motions.

As Mr. Martin pointed out in his last post, it appears that at least some of this procedure is dictated by state law.  That is not all surprising now that we know this is a condo association.  Homeowner and Condo associations are frequently heavily regulated by state statutes which trump the rules in RONR.   I agree with Mr. Martin that this is sounding more like a legal issue for an attorney familiar with condo association law in your state than a parliamentary issue. 

 

 

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On 9/22/2022 at 11:22 AM, Joshua Katz said:

Well, there is no such term as "scope of amendment." There's whether an amendment is germane, which all three of those discussed are, and there's scope of notice, which applies when amending something for which notice has been given.

Interesting.

I got that term from one of you folks in my prior thread question.  Perhaps you didn't mean it literaly and I took it that way.  Regardless, I think we are talking about the same issue,but calling it something different.

Thanks

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On 9/22/2022 at 10:33 AM, John Cummings said:

I got that term from one of you folks in my prior thread question.  Perhaps you didn't mean it literaly and I took it that way.  Regardless, I think we are talking about the same issue,but calling it something different.

The topic of "scope of notice" (or "scope of amendment") is not applicable to the matters described here. This concept is applicable for motions to Amend Something Previously Adopted, especially amendments to the bylaws. The motions you have described here are not motions to Amend Something Previously Adopted.

As a consequence, so far as RONR is concerned, it is entirely permissible for the assembly to adopt amendments to these motions so long as they are germane (relevant) to the subject matter of the motion. The concept of "scope of notice" is not applicable in these cases.

It may well be that there is something in your state's condo law that would limit the ability for the assembly to amend these motions. But that is a question for an attorney, not this forum.

Edited by Josh Martin
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I have to add a funny story here.  Not related to the topic.  And don't get me wrong, I'm enjoying this discussion and learning.

I was a systems programmer by trade and there was 2 senior systems programmers in the group.  When someone asked them a question if frequently went like this with the questioner leaving more confused than when they came.

I'm not more confused. just though it was funny.  Hope you get a chuckle too.

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Here is the actual "item" that was sent out on the agenda. I'm just reporting the facts. I don't know why they chose the term "item", but my guess is because it seemed to fit and nothing related to RONR.  I altered the amount on my initial question, but that isn't relative as I was trying to make up an article.

Item #15 Purpose: Requesting the approval of up to $28,000 from Capital Reserves to support owner’s efforts to add an additional 9 Canopies and Picnic Tables to the beach area.

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On 9/22/2022 at 11:36 AM, Josh Martin said:

As a consequence, so far as RONR is concerned, it is entirely permissible for the assembly to adopt amendments to these motions so long as they are germane (relevant) to the subject matter of the motion. The concept of "scope of notice" is not applicable in these cases.

Thanks Josh,

It sounds like the more appropriate word is "germane" and not "scope", but we are talking the same thing.  I will use germane in the future.

John

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Lets just take @John Cummings at his word and work from there. He tells us that there is a 21-day notice requirement. No, that's not in RONR for original main motions, but let's accept that it is a requirement for his group. 

If so, then scope of notice applies to anything proposed, such as this Item #15. That is, any amendments to Item #15 that are moved at the meeting have to fall within the scope of notice. I agree with Mr. Katz that exceeding the amount is outside the scope and that adding firepits is outside the scope.

In this case, as 21 days' notice is required, no amendment that goes beyond the scope of notice is in order.

There are some situations (not this one of John's) where amendments outside the scope would be in order but they then change the vote required to adopt the amended Item (e.g., to Amend Something Previously Adopted). Some of the responses above discuss this, but it does not appear to apply to John.

There are other situations where scope of notice is not relevant at all. Original main motions fall in this category and that is what would apply to John's Item, except that apparently his organization has the 21-day notice requirement. In that case (no notice requirement) amendments must still be germane to the original motion.

On 9/22/2022 at 11:43 AM, John Cummings said:

"germane" and not "scope", but we are talking the same thing.  I will use germane in the future.

No. Germaneness is a different concept than scope of  notice and the two are not synonymous. As Mr. Martin notes, germane allows a much broader range of amendments than scope. For example, adding firepits may be germane to Item #15, but is not within the scope of notice.

Edited by Atul Kapur
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On 9/22/2022 at 10:40 AM, John Cummings said:

Here is the actual "item" that was sent out on the agenda. I'm just reporting the facts. I don't know why they chose the term "item", but my guess is because it seemed to fit and nothing related to RONR.  I altered the amount on my initial question, but that isn't relative as I was trying to make up an article.

Item #15 Purpose: Requesting the approval of up to $28,000 from Capital Reserves to support owner’s efforts to add an additional 9 Canopies and Picnic Tables to the beach area.

John, I just want to point out that throughout this entire thread you  have referred to these "items" as "articles", even to the point of saying that is what they called in the agenda.  Clearly they are called "items", not "articles".  That isn't a huge difference, but if the correct term been used throughout, I'm confident it would have lessened our confusion.   I can equate an "item" to a motion, but the word "article" left me totally flummoxed.  In the world of parliamentary procedure, words have a very particular meaning.  All parliamentarians know what a motion is.  We have a pretty good idea what an "item" is if we are told it is something being voted on.  But "articles" are totally foreign... at least to me, except as used in bylaw articles.  I was practically begging for a definition of what there "articles" are that you kept referring to. 

BTW, this is one of the reasons we so frequently ask posters to quote certain provisions from their bylaws EXACTLY and not to paraphrase.  A very slight difference in wording can make a world of difference in what a provision means and in our responses. 

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On 9/22/2022 at 12:06 PM, Atul Kapur said:

Lets just take @John Cummings at his word and work from there. He tells us that there is a 21-day notice requirement. No, that's not in RONR for original main motions, but let's accept that it is a requirement for his group. 

Perfect!!

The NH Condo Act requires all proposed changes to be "noticed to all owners" 21 days prior to the annual meeting.  It goes even further. The Association Secretary is required to prepare and Affidavit documenting that all owners have been noticed and the method of notice.

I can't for the life of me think of any reason other than that "ALL OWNERS MUST BE NOTIFIED OF ANY CHANGE PROPOSAL".  If that isn't the reason, then I'm clueless.  Also, since only about 1/3 of the owners attend the annual meeting, if anything changed their then we would certainly be in violation of the "notice" requirement.

Thanks

John

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On 9/22/2022 at 11:15 AM, John Cummings said:

I can't for the life of me think of any reason other than that "ALL OWNERS MUST BE NOTIFIED OF ANY CHANGE PROPOSAL".  If that isn't the reason, then I'm clueless.  Also, since only about 1/3 of the owners attend the annual meeting, if anything changed their then we would certainly be in violation of the "notice" requirement.

I don't think this follows. The reasoning could, in theory, be exactly the same at RONR uses - they need to know what's on the table, which is what scope of notice rules do. 

But it doesn't matter what I think, or what you think. What matters if what your courts have done with it. That requires research and is a question for an attorney.

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