January 2017 Parliamentarian’s Corner: Adoption of Committee Reports

Purpose: As we discussed previously, a huge advantage to utilizing Robert’s Rules is that it provides structure to our meetings and designates methods for achieving various goals. One minor, yet important topic, is that of how the Chapter, Province or Fraternity-At-Large adopts reports of standing or special committees. While your Chapter may not regularly receive reports from committees, it is important to know how to receive such reports as the mechanisms for adopting reports can vary significantly depending on the contents of the report. Discussion: The procedure is dependent upon the answers to the following questions: 1. Are there any actionable recommendations or resolutions included in the report of the committee? 2. If there are actionable recommendations or resolutions, what type of business was discussed by the committee? 3. Does such business include amendments or substitutions of proposals/documents? Starting with question 1, the following discussion will assist your thinking: Question 1 – No actionable recommendations or resolutions contained in the report. In this case, no action needs to be taken – should the report consist of facts and/or opinions of the committee members, no action is needed, as the members do not need to act on the opinions/facts provided by the committee. Question 1 – Actionable recommendations or resolutions contained in the report. In this case, the members will need to vote as to whether or not they will accept and follow the recommendation(s)/resolution(s) presented by the committee which are contained in the report. Question 2 – What type of business was discussed? While I will not go into excessive detail here, discussions, proposals, resolutions, etc. that are referred/committed to committees take precedence over simple recommendations made by a committee during their normal course of business. Thus, there are special limits as to what will happen in the case of question 3 for issues referred/committed to a committee, as these question(s)/issue(s) carry the weight of the membership’s voice (as the members must have previously voted to refer or commit the question(s)/issue(s) to the committee). Question 3 – Do recommendations or resolutions contain amendments and/or substitutions? While this is the most complex situation, the course of action should seem reasonable. Documents which are referred/committed to a committee may be amended by the committee during their deliberations, and, as such, the members must decide if such amendments or substitutions of text meet their needs. At such a point, discussion of the amendment to the original recommendation, proposal, resolution, document, etc. must take place before the recommendation(s)/resolution(s) contained in the report can be adopted by the members. An example will likely be helpful: Example: The Pledging Committee has been referred the following question: “What were the outcomes and problems associated with social events during the previous pledging season?” After discussing the issue, the Pledging Committee Reports that they believe that the question is too narrowly focused and makes the following recommendations: 1. The question be amended to say “What were the outcomes and problems associated with social and professional development events during the previous pledging season?” 2. The Committee be given an additional month to discuss and develop recommendations regarding all such events. With these recommendations provided to the Chapter by the Committee in an open meeting, the chair should open discussion regarding: I. The amendment to the charge of the Committee which adds professional development events to those being evaluated. a. During discussion, the amendment could be amended further by any member through the normal method of offering an amendment to a proposal. When discussion ends, if the amendment(s) is/are approved or rejected, then the members will need to discuss the recommendation as it stands and vote again as to whether or not the final recommendation be accepted by the Chapter. II. As such, let’s say that the proposals are successfully amended by members as to read as follows: 1. What were the outcomes and problems associated with social and professional development events during the previous pledging season? 2. The Committees be given an additional 2 weeks to discuss and develop recommendations regarding all such events hosted by the Chapter in the month of September. III. At this point, provided discussion on the charges of the Committee has ended, members will vote as to whether these recommendations will be adopted by the Chapter and provided to the Pledging Committee in this case, or simply adopted by the Chapter in the case of other topics, such as for the budget (in terms of business presented by the Auditing Committee), or Local Ordinance proposals (in terms of business presented by the Legislative Committee). Conclusion: As you can see, recommendations/resolutions made by a Committee may have major effects upon the business of the Committee as well as the members as a whole. Therefore, it is important for members to understand the role they play in adopting or influencing the work of Committees.

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