Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

Business Meeting Template

People commonly consult with me prior to submitting items to be brought before the WSFS and Westercon Business Meetings. I will usually help you prepare your proposal in a technically correct form even if I'm opposed to the substance of what you're proposing. That's because I much prefer debate on the floor of the Business Meeting to focus on substantive issues rather than using up the limited amount of legislative time we have hashing out technical matters. To that end, here is a template for preparing your proposal. (For Westercon, substitute "Westercon Bylaws" for "WSFS Constitution.")

Short Title: [Title of Proposal]

Moved, to amend the WSFS Constitution for the purpose of [general description of proposal], by striking out and adding words as follows:

1. Amend [specific section]:

[Include the portion of the constitution being amended, including enough context surrounding the change — usually the rest of the section or subsection — and show your change in "redline" style, using strike-thru to show what you're removing and underline to show new material. If you're only striking out or only adding text, leave out the references to the actions you're not taking from the Moved clause.]

2. [If your proposal amendment multiple sections in different parts of the document, include the next change and add additional changes as necessary. If your proposal has only one change, leave off the numbering.]

Provided That [Include enacting provisions, such as requirements that a change be re-ratified in a certain number of years. Such provisions tag along with the amendment until they no longer apply, then automatically drop out of the document.]

Further Provided That [If you have multiple provisions, include them as necessary. If you have no provisions, you don't need a Provided clause.]

Proposed by: [List of names of makers; at least two supporting or attending members of the current Worldcon. They need not be present at the meeting, although it helps determine the makers' intentions.]

Maker's Statement: [Include a narrative statement of why you are proposing this and what you expect to accomplish. Although it's not part of the proposal itself, as your "opening argument" it becomes part of the legislative history of a proposal, so that if there are doubts or confusion about how the proposal should be interpreted, we can go back and read what you intended. This doesn't always apply; the debate and any clarification in the debate from the chair or meeting may show that your stated intent isn't what your proposal will do, but as the maker of a proposal, you always get the first shot at advocating for it.]

You'll note that I did not include a Whereas, clause. Such clauses are rarely necessary and are almost always a bad idea. They also choke up the agenda because you have to work on the main body of the proposal first, then come back and discuss the Whereas clauses separately before the entire proposal can be put to a vote. If you want to state your purposes, put it in the opening phrase after Moved, That... or in your Maker's Statement.

Note that you do not need to give explicit direction to renumber the constitution. Existing rules authorize the Secretary of the Business Meeting to make such stylistic and technical changes that do not change the substantive impact of a motion. It is sufficient to say where you want to put things relative to other things, such as "Insert a new section after existing section 3.17."

I can't say enough about how I think the first sentence (after "Moved, That...) is very important. The Business Meeting staff will attempt to interpret your detailed proposal in light of your general statement of purpose in the opening clause, and besides, most people have a hard time reading past the first sentence. State it in relatively plain language so people know what it is on which they are voting.

If you have questions about how to structure proposals, feel free to contact me. I like helping people get their proposals into a form that leads to a productive debate or at least gives the electorate a clear idea of what the issue is.
Tags: business meeting, smofs, westercon, wsfs

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