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ASK THE PARLIAMENTARIAN

BY MIKE SWIFT, VVA PARLIAMENTARIAN

Q: When a president has the option of appointing a committee chair, does that make the committee a special committee or a standing committee?

A: A standing committee must be constituted by name, by a specific provision of the bylaws, or by a resolution, which is, in effect, a special rule of order and therefore requires notice and a two-thirds vote for adoption, if any of the following conditions are to apply:

If the committee is to have standing authority to act for the society on matters of a certain class without specific instructions from the assembly;

If all business of a certain class is to be automatically referred to the committee

If some other rule of parliamentary procedure is affected by the committee’s assigned function. Robert’s, page 473, line 18.

The position being occupied or vacant and/or the committee being active or quiescent do not determine standing committee status.

Q: Can minutes be corrected after they have been approved?

A: If the existence of an error or material omission in the minutes becomes reasonably established after their approval, even many years later, the minutes can be corrected by means of the motion to Amend Something Previously Adopted, which requires a two-thirds vote, or a majority vote with notice, or the vote of a majority of the entire membership, or unanimous consent. Robert’s, page 458, line 10. When the minutes are approved, the word “Approved,” with the secretary’s initials and the date, should be written below them. Robert’s, page 458, line 7.

Q: How are the minutes of an annual meeting or an annual convention approved?

A: If the next session is not held within a quarterly time interval, a committee appointed should be authorized to approve the minutes. The fact that the minutes are not then read for approval at the next meeting does not prevent a member from having a relevant excerpt read for information; nor does it prevent the assembly in such a case from making additional corrections, treating the minutes as having been previously approved. Robert’s, page 457, line 21.

Q: How is a vacancy in office filled if the bylaws do not say anything about filling a vacancy?

A: The filling of a vacancy essential to the functioning of a society or assembly is a question of privilege affecting the organization of the assembly. In such cases, the assembly can proceed immediately to fill the vacancy, unless notice is required or other provision for filling vacancies are made in the bylaws. In the case of a resignation from office, unless the bylaws provide otherwise, the assembly cannot proceed to fill the vacancy immediately since notice is a requirement. Robert’s, page 279, line 21.

Send your questions on parliamentary procedure to parliamentarian@vva.org Answers are based on Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised 10th Edition.

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