By Skip Skipper, F119793
Co-Chairman, Constitution & Bylaws Committee
National Vice President, Eastern Area
I would like to bring you up-to-date on the Constitution & Bylaws Committee’s proposed changes to the FMCA Constitution and Bylaws. These changes are not final and are subject to review by the Governing Board during its meeting in Hutchinson, Kansas, on September 29 and 30, 2002.
FMCA contracted with Ms. Kathleen Klein, CAE (certified association executive), of Dallas, Texas, to rewrite FMCA’s Constitution and Bylaws. The Constitution & Bylaws Committee, acting as representatives of the Governing Board, met periodically with Ms. Klein to review, accept, or modify the documents to suit the needs of the association.
At the onset of this major project, we solicited the counsel of FMCA’s attorney regarding the three principal documents involved: The Articles of Incorporation, the Constitution, and the Bylaws. Our attorney advised us that the Articles of Incorporation, filed with the State of Ohio, satisfied the four requirements established by that state, and required no changes. He provided a document that contained the requirements for the Constitution. This became the basic document we used in comparing the requirements of the Constitution with those of the Bylaws. We first developed an understanding of the requirements for the Constitution and then began the work of rewriting the Bylaws to support the requirements of the Constitution; thus, the Bylaws became the principal document involved in our work.
At this point, it is important to explain a few of the guidelines we followed in this rewrite process, which will help you understand our work more easily:
- Bylaws should contain only requirements.
- Establish a Member and Volunteer Handbook to contain the duties, responsibilities, policies and procedures formerly contained within the Bylaws.
- Verbiage removed from Bylaws is moved verbatim to the Member and Volunteer Handbook.
- Streamline the paragraphs and reduce to sentences, yet retain the essence of the statement.
- Eliminate redundancy to the maximum extent possible.
- Both the proposed Constitution and the proposed Bylaws have been written as generically as possible to permit the documents to withstand the test of time with minimal need for changes.
It is important to remember that the streamlining process probably will change the appearance of the sentence structure. This concept has also caused some paragraphs to be reorganized or moved to consolidate a topic with other related topics. This practice makes locating a given subject easier than before as it will be grouped with other related subjects.
Copies of the current “Bylaws of Family Motor Coach Association Inc.” and of the current “FMCA Constitution” are available in the “For Members Only” section of www.fmca.com. Also available in this section are copies of several explanatory letters that have been sent to Governing Board members to keep them updated throughout this process.
The following synopsis reflects the major changes that have been proposed to the Bylaws.
- Redefined both the Mission and the Purpose of FMCA.
- Redefined “member,” “membership,” “family unit,” and “qualifying motor coach” in order to make the application more universal to the membership of the association.
- Established new term limits for national officers. The national president and national senior vice president would be eligible to serve one two-year term (current is three one-year terms). The national secretary and national treasurer would be able to serve two two-year terms (current is three one-year terms). The national vice presidents would be able to serve two two-year terms (current is four one-year terms).
- Renamed and more clearly defined the role of the area associations.
- Provided chapters the option of having one-year or two-year terms for their officers.
Other suggested changes are as follows:
- Family Associate members would be entitled to all member benefits and may participate in chapter/area functions but may not vote or hold office.
- Retitled “Code Of Ethics” to “FMCA Member Code of Ethics.”
- Changed “Executive Committee” to “Executive Board,” which is a more appropriate name.
- Standing committees include: Constitution & Bylaws, Finance, Nominating, and Convention committees (the committee deleted “and Rally” from the Convention and Rally Committee name).
- Retain nominations from the floor for the elections at the Governing Board meeting.
- Requires the President’s Council to evaluate the demographics of area organizations at five-year intervals, unless otherwise directed by the Executive Board, starting in 2005, and make recommendations to the Governing Board.
- Requires each chapter secretary to furnish the national office with a list of newly elected officers within 30 days of an election in order to maintain a current listing of chapter officers.
- The indemnification article has been moved from the Constitution to the Bylaws because of the importance of this issue.
Changes in the Constitution include streamlining and eliminating redundancy, as was done in the Bylaws. Some articles and paragraphs had to be renumbered to reflect the streamlining process.
As mandated by the Governing Board during its meeting in Redmond, Oregon, this past August, the recommended changes to the Constitution and the Bylaws are to be provided to them six months prior to the meeting in Hutchinson, Kansas; therefore, the due date is April 1, 2002. This magazine article was drafted December 11, 2001. The proposed Constitution and Bylaws will continue to be working documents until such time as the “final products” are mailed to the Governing Board. Our committee will conduct a two-day meeting in late January/early February for a final review of the Constitution, the Bylaws, and the associated materials that Governing Board members will receive. I expect some changes will be made at this meeting, but we are far enough along that I believe these changes will be minimal.
Currently the plan is for the Governing Board to meet for a two-day session just prior to the Hutchinson convention. This will facilitate a thorough review of these documents and approval to mail the Bylaws to Governing Board members so that they can be voted on via mail ballot.
Changes to the Constitution must be approved by the general membership of FMCA. Consequently, once the Bylaws are approved by the Governing Board, the proposed Constitution will be published in Family Motor Coaching magazine with an accompanying ballot for each member of FMCA to cast his or her vote concerning its approval.