Tuesday, September 25, 2012

CONVENTION USA RULES COMMITTEE

THIS BLOG HAS BEEN CREATED AS A SITE FOR THE MEETINGS OF THE RULES COMMITTEE OF CONVENTION USA. COMMENTS BY DELEGATES AND OTHERS WILL BE PUBLISHED BUT MAY BE REMOVED AS DIRECTED BY THE COMMITTEE.

Dear Rules Committee Members:

Please excuse my lack of response to these various suggestions by Delegate Prather.  I had had difficulty getting access to the blog, but now all seems to be in order.

Let me begin to suggesting some common terms we might use in communicating with each other.  The correct abbreviation for Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised (11th Edition) which is the current edition of Robert's and the official parliamentary authority of the Convention, is RONR.  I suggest we use this shortland when referring to Robert's and when we quote rules from our parliamentary authority, I suggest we use:  RONR, page 322, line 6-9.  This will make it clear to all of us what part of RONR we are referring to.

It would be helpful to me if each member of the rules committee responded to this blog post and included your name and email address so that if we wish to email each other, we all have each other's email.

I wait to hear form each of you.

We have a set of rules in place for the Convention.  Our role as the Rules Committee is to continue to monitor the rules and offer any suggestions for changes we feel are helpful.

I would suggest that if you have an opportunity, it would be good for you to review Madison's notes on the rules used at the Constitutional Convention of 1787.  The rules were fairly simple and included, final authority by the Chair to rule on all points of order without appeal, motions needing to be adopted by a majority of the state delegations, and unlimited right to reconsider an item which motion could be moved by any delegate not only those who voted on the prevailing side.

These three rules are notably different from the current edition of RONR.  So I believe we ought to at least discuss whether we want to follow the example of 1787 or use our own rules.  Possibly, since any amendment to the US Constition would require more than a majority of the states, maybe we should have a higher requirement than a majority of the states.

Other than that, I believe the other two rules are far superior in the case of our Convention to RONR.  What would be your opinions about this?

I look forward to hearing from each of you.

Sincerly,

Dr. Leonard M. Young, PRP
Rules Committee Chairman

30 comments:

utesfan100 said...

Delegate Ben Prather (FL012)

Judge Brennan has requested that ideas for consideration by the rules committee be posted here.

My first suggestion (based on the concerns expressed by Delegate Malone yesterday) is that the language of Section III can be given to clarify that State Caucuses are intended to be independent deliberative bodies.

This is done by explicitly making the default procedure secondary to any procedure adopted by a state caucus.

III STATE CAUCUSES

1) The Delegates of each State shall be organized as a State Caucus.

2) State Caucuses shall determine a Caucus Captain, and procedures for determining a Speaker on the floor of Convention USA in their absence.

3) In the absence of such a determination, the senior Delegate in attendance shall be the Captain Pro Tem.

4) The Captain or Captain Pro Tem shall represent and speak for the state at Convention assemblies unless time is given to another Delegate by the Captain or Captain Pro Tem.

utesfan100 said...

Delegate Ben Prather (FL012)

My second suggestion deals with voting, the issue that motivated the new committee.

Since last weeks deliberation, it occurred to me that itemizing each type of vote would require consideration of each type of vote listed in RRO.

Thus I suggest that VI.1 and VI.4 can be better expressed as:

1) Unless stated otherwise, the required vote to adopt any motion must be among both:
a) the states, and
b) the delegates.

In RRO, amendments to Parliamentary Standing Rules require:
1) prior notice and a 2/3rds vote, or
2) 1/2 of the entire convention.

The former would be the most likely mode at Convention USA.

utesfan100 said...

Delegate Ben Prather (FL012)

My third suggestion is about the process for having Amendments endorsed by Convention USA.

I believe that this should be a two phase process. First the convention proposes an amendment by a 2/3rds vote. Second, the State Caucuses ratify them, requiring 38 states.

Proposed amendments should be amendable, and caucuses should have the ability to rescind a ratification.

Here is a sketch of this idea:

VI Voting
2) No amendment to the Constitution of the United States, or amendment to an existing proposal, shall be considered unless supported by three States nor proposed by the Convention unless the same shall have received:

a) the affirmative votes of 34 States, and
b) prior notice and a 2/3rds vote among the delegates.

3) An existing proposal for an amendment to the Constitution of the United States shall be rescinded when it receives:
a) the affirmative votes of 17 States, OR
b) prior notice and a majority vote among the delegates.

4) A proposal shall be adopted by Convention USA when ratified by 3/4ths of the State Caucuses.

5) A ratification must list the Delegates approving the ratification.

6) A State may rescind a ratification if the amendment proposal is amended by the convention, or by producing a list of Delegates opposed to the established ratification at least as long as the list of ratifying Delegates.

7) States shall be given 6 months to repeal their ratification before an amendment to an adopted proposal is itself adopted.

utesfan100 said...

Delegate Prather (FL012)

My fourth suggestion was raised last week. This aims to address many of the questions about the operations of meetings.

This wording presumes that the term "DAY" be replaced with the term "SESSION" to avoid confusion with a 24 hour period of time.

It involves adding a new section, titled SESSIONS, which I suggest should be prior to the section on voting. This addresses several of the points listed in RRO.

VI SESSIONS

1) The Chairman shall provide an agenda for any Session of the Convention at least one week before the Session can convene.

2) All Sessions must be authorized by a vote to establish a quorum of support for the conducting of the Session.

3) Once all business proposed for the Session has been accomplished, except those pending the results of a vote or a requested report from a committee, a Session may recess until a specified date.

4) A quorum shall be presumed until the items on the Session’s agenda have been resolved, at which point it shall adjourn.

5) Caucus Captains may seek to be recognised by posting their credentials and purpose to the convention floor. The Chairman shall allow only those requests that are in order.

6) A motion can be submitted in writing by providing a URL to the text of the motion.

7) Caucus Captains unable to attend a meeting or find an alternate may request that the Chairman post a motion on their behalf by e-mail at least 48 hours prior to the announced convening time of the Meeting.

utesfan100 said...

Delegate Ben Prather (FL012)

My fifth suggestion is to produce a transparent process for bringing motions to the floor, emphasizing the vision that State Caucuses, not delegates, bring a motion before the floor of the convention.

Here is a sketch of such a process.

VIII LIST OF AGENDA ITEMS

1) While the convention is adjourned, the Secretary shall maintain a public “List of Agenda Items” requested by State Caucus Captains, including the date the request was made.

2) Items may be removed from the “List of Agenda Items” by being placed on a Session agenda authorized by a quorum, at the request of the State Caucus Captain making the request, or by a vote to remove the item initiated by the Chairman.

3) Requests older than three months require a vote on a Session containing only that request on the agenda. If this vote does not reach a quorum, the item shall be removed from the “List of Agenda Items.”

utesfan100 said...

Delegate Ben Prather (FL012)

My sixth suggestion is that Convention USA express specifically that the delegates are required to attain the technology required to participate.

I would add something along these lines to ARTICLE IV on delegates:

Delegates are responsible for securing the computer and internet capabilities required to access official convention sites. In the event of a technical difficulty or malfunction a Delegate may communicate by direct e-mail to the Convention Chairman, or Committee Chairman responsible for responding to the issue being addressed when the problem occurred.

utesfan100 said...

Delegate Ben Prather (FL012)

Thank you for taking the time to consider my concerns about the rules, based on my consideration of the concerns listed on page 99 of RRO and the nature of Convention USA.

I welcome the opportunity to discuss issues or concerns anyone may have with any of these ideas.

utesfan100 said...

Delegate Ben Prather (FL012)

My fifth suggestion should be amended to allow an item failing to receive a second by another State Caucus Captain to be removed after three months, before forcing a vote on a Session on that agenda item.

Thomas E. Brennan said...

PRATHER 1:

The present language creates an automatic captain who serves at the pleasure of the caucus.

Ben's suggestion leaves the delegation in limbo until it selects a captain.

The mandate that each delegation shall be organized as a State Caucus would include the power to make rules,elect officers, including a Chairman Pro Tem, etc.

There is no need to spell out specific powers for a caucus, and the danger in specifying some powers is that some may argue that the caucus has no power but those delegated, which would be unduly restrictive.

Thomas E. Brennan said...

PRATHER 2:

There is no need to itemize all the voting requirements of RRO. We have addressed the two which seem most necessary at the outset: constitutional amendments and rules changes. If there is need for other variances from RRO,they cvan be addressed later.

The language Ben proposes for VI 4 "among the states and the delegates " is vague and indefinite.

Thomas E. Brennan said...

PRATHER 3:

Ben's reference to 'prior notice'which is used in RRO does not apply to our on line convention.

We post a floor motion notice of a meeting of the delegates designated as a DAY, which contains the proposed agenda. Delegates vote YES on the Quorum Call to indicate participation.

It must be remembered that we are only proposing proposals for amendments to the constitution. What we propose must 'go public' and win the approval of the States in order to start the process of actual amendment.

This is why we should not consider publicizing anything unless, within our convention, at least,it has the kind of broad consensus that a constitutional amendment needs.

Thomas E. Brennan said...

PRATHER 4:

Ben suggests using Session instead of DAY. I have preferred the word DAY, used not as a 24 hour period, but rather as the defining point for the start of a session of the convention.

Because we are operating in an asynchronous environment, recessing of a session is more than merely taking timeout for lunch; thus when the convention recesses, it is not "in session." Therefore, no business can be done, except that for which the recess was taken, i.e. voting, etc.

We establish a quorum by voting on a floor motion called a quorum call. Under RRO the chair determines whether there is a quorum by observing the room. Obviously, we can't do that. We can presume that those who have voted to participate in the convention called together on a specified DAY, will continue to participate until the convention adjourns to a day certain under RRO, but the Chairman should have the prerogative to call for a quorum, whenever,in his discretion, participation has diminished to such a point that any action taken could not fairly be assumed to be the will of the convention.

Thomas E. Brennan said...

PRATHER 5:

There is no need to create itemized rules for adopting an agenda. It is the Chairman's responsibility to post a proposed agenda when calling a meeting of the convention. That agenda call be amended by a floor motion. Notice of floor motions go out to all delegates, irrespective of whether they have answered the quorum call. Thus, if a delegate ignored the quorum call because there was nothing on the agenda of interest to him, he will effectively receive notice when the motion to amend the agenda is put up on the web site.

Thomas E. Brennan said...

PRATHER 6:
Ben's 6th suggestion is unnecessary busy work, which simply detracts from the other rules.

utesfan100 said...

Delegate Ben Prather (FL012)

Several of my suggestions were made to address the concerns regarding electronic meetings listed in RRO, 11th edition, page 99. I list the six specific concerns raised in RRO here.

Without addressing these concerns, delegates will continue to generate "a great many postings which ask questions, make comments and express opinions unrelated to the question under debate."

* the type of computer equipment or computer software required for participation in meetings, whether the organization must provide such equipment or software, and contingencies for technical difficulties or malfunctions;

This is my motivation for PRATHER 6.

Perhaps this would belong in a legal disclaimer in a separate section of the website, but it should be included somewhere.

* methods for determining the presence of a quorum;

This is already covered in the existing rules.

* the conditions under which a member may raise a point of order doubting the presence of a quorum, and the conditions under which the continued presence of a quorum is presumed if no such point of order is raised;

In RRO a delegate can raise a point of order questioning a Quorum at any time no one has the floor. Since it is acknowledged in the response to PRATHER 4 that confirming the presence of a quorum is problematic, this rule should be overridden by our publisehed rules.

This is the reason for the fourth section of PRATHER 4.

With this wording, a point of order doubting the presence of a quorum would be out of order during any Day authorized by a quorum.

* methods for seeking recognition and obtaining the floor;

This is the motivation for section 5 of PRATHER 4, and PRATHER 5.

The idea of these is to formalize the vision that motions come to the floor through the State Caucuses.

PRATHER 5 also aims to make this process transparent and offer assurances to the State Caucuses that the issues they raise will come before the floor of the convention.

* means by which motions may be submitted in writing during a meeting; and

This is the motivation for Section 6 of PRATHER 4.

* methods for taking and verifying votes.

This has been made clear by precedent.

utesfan100 said...

Delegate Ben Prather (FL012)

Another motivation was to express the assumed structure of the convention. I view a few comments on these suggestions particularly unfair. I will take these one at a time.

PRATHER 1:
Section 3 of PRATHER 1 is essentially identical to the published rules. Thus the delegation is no more in limbo than it would be under the published rules.

utesfan100 said...

Delegate Ben Prather (FL012)

PRATHER 2:
In RRO votes are among the delegates, so the vote among the states would not matter for any vote other than what is specified differently.

The published rules cover ordinary business, which is any vote requiring a simple majority.

For any vote requiring a super majority, prior notice, or a majority of the entire membership, the vote among the states would not matter under the published rules.

I thank the Convention Chairman for pointing out the subtle ambiguity in the situation of PRATHER 2 in the cases where two alternate criteria are given in RRO. I amend the wording of PRATHER 2 as follows:

1) Unless stated otherwise, the required vote to adopt any motion must use the same criteria for each of:
a) the states, and
b) the delegates.

If there is further ambiguity, a sample case would be instructive.

utesfan100 said...

Delegate Ben Prather (FL012)

PRATHER 3:
I note that amending the rules of the convention require prior notice in RRO, as does voting to repeal previous actions taken by the convention.

I agree that prior notice concerns are properly addressed in our convention by sending a mass e-mail to delegates at the taking of a vote and the precedent of using a voting period on the order of a few days.

utesfan100 said...

Delegate Ben Prather(012)

PRATHER 5:
I note that the proposed rules for a List of Items does not require that all items on the list be included in the next Day of the convention.

This leaves the determination of the agenda for a given Day up to the Convention Chairman. It would also make the items left on the list out of order for that Day, as temporarily but not finally disposed of.

PRATHER 5 also allows the Convention Chairman to unilaterally put an item to a vote, with a simple majority needed to remove the item from the list. I would amend Section 2 to require a 2/3rds vote, as this is really RRO's Objection to Consideration of a Question.

(Objection to Consideration of a Question is yet another vote where the published rules would not consider the vote among the states)

PRATHER 5 does guarantee that items raised by a State Caucus and seconded by another State Caucus will be brought before the convention within three months.

Maybe six months would be better, I am not prescient enough to make this determination.

crfischer said...

Delegate Charles Fischer (IN004)

To offer my suggestions on the rules. I think the rules committee currently in session needs to see if the previous rules committee has everything the way it should be and if any changes are needed.

I think a new Office needs to be created to oversee and handle the votes taken by the convention that person would also have control over the voting thresholds of what defines if something passes or not.The only exception would be amendments to which the current rules would stay in place.

Just to address Delegate Prather's suggestions. I think most of them can wait until the permanent rules committee is appointed.
I have mentioned this many time I think anything to do with the computers is under the Internet Committee to determine. the rules committee should not be involved in that directly. Maybe that is something you want to add to the internet committee's description.
It could read:
Internet and technology Committee: maintain convention website. Determine computer capabilities needed to view website or any software needed to participate in the convention. Determine who provides said software also.

That would take the concern away from the rules committee on that.
Hope these help
Delegate Fischer.
IN004

Howard McCormick said...

Trying to come up with THE PERFECT SET of rules before we even have a RULES Committee is not only impossible, but ridiculous!

I would hope and pray that this temporary committee come up with a starting set of rules that can be approved in short order, so the important work of a Permanent Rules Committee can begin.

I look forward to your report and thank you for your service.

utesfan100 said...

Delegate Ben Prather (FL012)

I should clarify that I am not expecting a perfect set of rules to be drafted here.

I am requesting that issues first raised by e-mail to the convention chairman on May 21 be given due diligence in the initial set of rules.

Howard McCormick said...

What, did the entire committee give up???

Delegate Fischer IN004 said...

I guess we just have to wait and see what happens tomorrow night and if there is a report from the rules committee.

I would also like to state for the record if there has been no action from the rules committee that there were 3 people ready and willing to serve on it.

Howard McCormick said...

What is posted on the ConventionUSA website it what the committee is going to make a Motion to approve. I will second and vote to do so, so we can get to the BOOK of rules that will follow from the Standing Rules Committee formed.

We have to get over this hurdle. Then we can have a Quorum Call for Day 3 and begin to weed out deadbeats that do not take an oath seriously.

"A Delegate may also be removed for failure to answer the call for a quorum three consecutive times."
was in the original Rules when they agreed to them and each took this oath upon registration: "I solemnly swear or affirm that I am registered to vote at the above address; that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of and that I will faithfully discharge my duties as a delegate to Convention USA according to the best of my ability."

To "faithfully discharge my duties as a delegate to Convention USA" one has to participate first!

Howard McCormick said...

The Convention entertained and seconded my motion to consider, discuss, and report on changing from trying to get a quorum to meeting for a session on a given date and time TO an "always ON" Convention. I have been involved with several and can explain how it would work extremely well for what we are doing. Please allow me to explain the details to the committee during its deliberations on MY motion. Thanks

Howard McCormick said...

I am not so sure this would require an addition to the rules themselves, since the rules already read 2) Whenever possible, Robert's Rules of Order shall govern the conduct of the Convention.
and
3) A quorum shall consist of one or more Delegates from at least thirty-four State Caucuses.

"Always on" would simple recognize the FACT that ALL Captains may participate withing the time constraints established at the Convention 24/7, meaning that ALL make up the quorum, since ALL may be involved in the session. The actual voting would still have to be a majority of at least 18 States or a Super-Majority of at least 22 States and ratifying vote would require at least 37 States.

All the "always on" does is open the Convention up without having to try to cram or set aside a day, time, hour, etc. in order to participate.

utesfan100 said...

As an Ex Officio member of of the rules committee, It seems to me that the primary purpose of the rules committee is to thoughtfully draft rules where there is a general consensus among the delegates that such a change would be useful. There has been no discussion among the delegates to determine whether such consensus exists, one way or another.

I would suggest that the rules committee recommend that the proposal to from an "always on" convention be referred to an advisory committee of the whole, allowing delegates one week to express their opinions on the matter. This would form a basis for the rules committee to produce a recommendation to bring to the convention floor based on the opinions that are expressed.

As Chairman of the Internet Committee, I would suggest that the Delegate Forum at ConventionUSA.org is the best location for this conversation to take place at this time.

Ben Prather

Fischer IN004 said...

I think recommendations are good but since as of right now the members of the rules committee are unknown at this time it is hard to begin discussing issues until we actually know who is making up the committee that will have the final say.

Howard McCormick said...

OK, I don't get it. Is this the same Rules Committee that I just received an Invitation too? What gives?? I hate blogs!