Delegates and Resolutions are Key to WAFP's House of Delegates. So What Are They?
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According to WAFP's bylaws, the House of Delegates is the pre-eminent source of power within the organization. The House of Delegates is comprised of individual delegates who represent one of WAFP's local chapters or a statewide chapters representing medical students and residents. The House of Delegates elects new leadership for the coming year and debates policy proposals (called resolutions) brought by WAFP members.
What does it mean to be a delegate? As a delegate, you represent your chapter in matters that come before the House. You are eligible to vote for leadership and vote for or against resolutions.
What does it mean to be an alternate delegate? As an alternate delegate, you are welcome to participate in discussions about resolutions but may not vote on them or vote for leadership candidates. If a delegate is unable to perform their duties, you may be called upon to serve as a delegate in place of that person.
Alternate delegates may also be asked to help administer the House of Delegates by counting votes, verifying credentials, or other tasks necessary to the smooth operation of the House.
What are resolutions? Resolutions are policy proposals that will be considered by the House of Delegates. They can request modification of current Academy policy or direct Academy action to accomplish a particular goal. Often, they direct WAFP to submit a resolution to the AAFP's Congress of Delegates to change AAFP policy or request AAFP action.
The format for each resolution is similar to that of the governor's executive orders: a series of paragraphs starting with "WHEREAS" followed by a series of paragraphs starting with "RESOLVED". (You'll hear these paragraphs referred to as "clauses".) The whereas clauses make the case for policy or action, while the resolved clause(s) explain the action to be taken or how policy should be modified. Resolved clauses may be treated independently, so it is possible to approve of one resolved clause while rejecting another one.
There is a process to determine the outcome for each resolution. First, the WAFP Speaker and Vice Speaker assign resolutions to a reference committees, which are charged with collating testimony and recommending a course of action to the full House of Delegates. The House then has the opportunity to accept, reject, or modify those recommendations.
The House can take one of five actions on any resolution:
- Adopt (the resolution is approved and will be acted on)
- Not adopt (the resolution is not approved and will not be acted on)
- Adopt substitute/adopt as amended (the resolution is approved after it has been modified; "adopt substitute" means it has been modified by a reference committee while "adopt as amended" means it has been modified on the floor of the House)
- Reaffirm as current policy
- Refer to the Board (the House sends the resolution to the WAFP Board of Directors for further study and possible action)
Some special types of resolutions to be aware of:
- Late resolutions: To be automatically considered by the House of Delegates, resolutions must be submitted two months before the House convenes. Resolutions submitted within that two-month window are considered late, and the House must vote whether to even consider late resolutions. Late resolutions must be of an urgent nature, with action that cannot wait until the next House meeting, and could not have been known prior to the resolution deadline. When voting whether to accept late resolutions, delegates should consider these factors, not the merit of the resolution.
- Bylaws amendments: Changing the bylaws requires a 2/3 majority of the House of Delegates. Any changes will be clearly delineated in materials distributed prior to the House of Delegates.
- Resolutions of condolence: These resolutions pay tribute to someone of importance to family medicine who has died since the previous meeting of the House. They are typically not subject to a vote but are adopted by an assumption of unanimous consent.