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Summary of Conference Procedures

Generally speaking, The General Service Conference follows Robert's Rules of Order, and proceeds on as informal a basis as possible consistent with the rights of all concerned. It is important to remember that the purpose of rules of order is to make it easier for the Conference to conduct its business; rules exist to allow the Conference to do what it need to do to carry out the will of the Fellowship by reaching and informed group conscience. Over the years the Conference has adopted some exceptions to Robert's Rules, which help to proceed more closely in accord with the spirit of A.A. tradition.

Conference Quorum

A Conference quorum — tow-thirds of all registered members — is required to conduct Conference business.

Committee System

To the extent possible, important matters to come before the conference will be handed via the "Committee system." This assures that a large number of questions can be dealt with during Conference week. Each Committee considers carefully the items before it and presents its recommendations to the Conference as a whole for acceptance or rejection. Recommendations of Conference committees are automatically motions that have been made and seconded. Members are urged to resist the temptation to edit recommendations on the floor.

Substantial Unanimity

All matters of policy (Conference Advisory Actions) require substantial unanimity, that is, a two-thirds majority. Any actions, including amendments, that affect an Advisory Action, or motions that might result in such and action, also require a two-thirds majority. Any actions, including amendments, that affect an Advisory Action, or motions that might result in such an action, also require a two-thirds majority. Because the number of members present in the hall during the week of Conference varies from time to time, the phrase "two-thirds majority" is taken to mean two-thirds vote of the Conference members voting, as long as the total vote constitutes a Conference quorum.

Minority Opinion

After each vote on a matter of policy, the side which did not prevail will always be given an opportunity to speak to their position. If the motion passes the tow-thirds vote, the minority may speak. If the motion receives a majority vote, but fails to pass for lack of a two-thirds vote, the majority may speak.

Remember that saving "minority opinions" for after the vote, when there is no rebuttal, is a time-waster, for it can force the conference body to reconsider a question that might well have been decided the first time around if it had been thoroughly examined from all sides.

General Rules of Debate and Voting

(Agreed at the beginning of each Conference)

  • People who wish to speak line up at the microphones and are called on in order.
  • Each person may speak for two (2) minutes.
  • No one may speak for a second time on a topic until all who wish to have spoken for the first time.
  • Full discussion of a recommendation should take place before each vote.
  • Everyone is entitled to, and should, express his or her opinion. However, if your perspective has already been stated by someone else, it is not necessary to go the mike and say it again.
  • Premature actions (e.g. amending motions early in the discussion or hastily calling the question) can divert attention from the subject at hand, thus confusing and/or delaying Conference business.
  • Voting is by show of hands.

Tabling a Motion

Tabling a motion (postponing discussion to a later time during the same Conference):

  • Must be made without comment.
  • Requires a second.
  • Is not debatable.
  • Need only a simple majority to pass.

Calling the Question

Calling the question brings debate to a halt while Conference members decide whether to proceed directly to a vote (the question) or go on with the debate. A motion to call the question:

  • Must be made in order at the microphone.
  • Must be made without comment.
  • Requires a second.
  • Is not debatable.
  • Requires a two-thirds vote.

Reconsideration

A motion to reconsider a vote may be made only by a member who voted withe prevailing side, but it can be seconded by anyone.

  • Only a simple majority is required.
  • If the majority votes to reconsider, full debate pro and con, is resumed (Conference members are urged to limit discussion to new considerations of the question under debate.)
  • No action may be reconsidered twice.

Floor Actions

Floor actions may be introduced at anytime during the Conference except at the Sharing Sessions, and:

  • Must be made without comment.
  • Must be submitted in writing by the maker to the Conference secretary.
  • Will come up for deliberation after all Committee reports have been heard.
  • Require a tow-thirds majority.

When a floor action is to be heard, its maker will be given two (2) minutes to state the rationale behind the action, after which the chair shall ask if there is a motion that the Conference declined to consider the floor action. A motion to decline to hear a floor action:

  • Must be made without comment.
  • Requires a second.
  • Is not debatable.
  • Requires a two-thirds majority.
Revised 5-20-11

Any eligible voter who is not in attendance for Roll Call at the start of the Assembly shall have their voting privileges suspended for that Assembly

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