Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

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Procedural Notice: Recording Committee of the Whole

I have mentioned a few times and in a few places that at this year's Business Meeting, what I call the "technical" discussion of complex proposals such as E Pluribus Hugo (and possibly Popular Ratification) might best be handled by having the meeting go into what is known as "Committee of the Whole." A proponent of the proposal would then hold the floor during the COTW and do a Q&A-style discussion. Such discussions are procedurally more difficult to do in the main debate because of the rules regarding who can speak and how often; however, the two proposals I've named (and possibly others to come) are sufficiently complex that I expect that many members simply want to ask the sponsors of the motions what the proposals mean.

Yes, the proposals include FAQs. Regrettably, many members simply won't read them. My experience last year in London with Popular Ratification was that most of my replies consisted of reading back the commentary included with the proposal. Nevertheless, since lots of people won't read, there is some value in having such a discussion to answer their questions, at least in an abbreviated form, i.e. "The member's question is addressed under Item 7, which I can read if the members want me to do so" or something like that.

While the primary purpose of a COTW is to loosen debate restrictions and to consider proposals in the less-formal style of a committee, there is an additional element that I notice troubles some people. Because a Committee of the Whole is not the assembly itself even though it consists of the same people, in general, minutes are not kept, nor is the COTW recorded in the same way as the meeting itself.

While these arrangements are the defaults for a Committee of the Whole, they can be modified. The motion "To Go Into Committee of the Whole" is a form of the motion to Refer to Committee, and such motions can always contain instructions. Therefore, it would be in order to:

Move to refer the pending question to a Committee of the Whole, with instructions to the Committee as follows:
  1. The Committee shall keep minutes of its deliberations and include those minutes in its report.

  2. The Committee shall record its deliberations in the same manner as the Business Meeting, and be bound by the same rules thereof.

  3. The Committee shall consider the technical aspects of the proposal referred to it, and may include amendments and recommendations regarding the proposal in its report.

    This would require the COTW to record its discussions and include minutes as part of its report, as if it were the meeting itself, even though it's technically a committee established by the Business Meeting for procedural purposes.

    The Business Meeting Videographer is aware of the prospect of having to record a Committee of the Whole as a separate recording and is technically prepared for doing so. Whether we actually need to do so depends upon how the members who turn up vote to handle the more complex proposals.
    Tags: business meeting, hugo awards, popular ratification, wsfs

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