To the Members of the House of Delegates
of the Washington Academy of Family Physicians

Thank you for serving your Academy at this important annual event. The House of Delegates (HOD, or just House) gathers WAFP members from across the state to vote for WAFP leadership, discuss issues important to family medicine, and debate WAFP policy. The decisions of the delegates at this meeting help shape the work of the Academy and direct the work of the Academy’s elected officers and Board of Directors.

The terms, processes, and roles of the HOD are not encountered often outside of parliamentary proceedings. We hope the information and instructions provided here assist you in participating in the HOD confidently and knowledgeably.

Use the menu below to navigate sections in this document.

The Role of Delegate

“Delegate” is the term used to identify a WAFP member who attends the HOD on behalf of their local chapter and who votes on issues and elections that year. Any WAFP member in good standing may be a delegate.

Delegates are organized by local chapters, and WAFP’s bylaws prescribe a formula to calculate how many delegates represent each local chapter. (Larger chapters have more voting delegates than do smaller chapters.) Residents and medical students have their own statewide chapters.

WAFP’s bylaws also allow chapters to send “alternate” delegates should a local chapter reach its allotment of delegates; the alternate delegates are available to serve but cannot vote on issues or elections unless they take the place of a delegate. Alternate delegates may fill in for delegates who are unable to participate and may help fill administrative roles for the HOD at the request of the Speaker of the House. The Speaker and the Vice Speaker are the elected WAFP officers charged with ensuring the HOD’s processes meet the rule and intent of the Academy’s representative style of governance.

Delegates represent the perspectives of all members in their local chapter. This means delegates are encouraged to talk to with other members in their geographical area about the issues to be discussed at the HOD before the event and to use their input to guide their votes; delegates make decisions at HOD that affect the whole of the Academy.

WAFP officers and members of the Board are not automatically designated as delegates; nor are WAFP committee chairs or other leaders, though they are given speaking privileges if they are not serving as delegates or alternate delegates.

An Overview of the House of Delegates

The HOD brings WAFP members from across the state together for two purposes: to elect leaders and decide the near-term work of the Academy.

The first is simple: delegates vote for Academy leaders and affirm the elections of WAFP’s resident and medical student members. The second is a bit more involved.

As a membership organization, members guide the Academy’s work. The HOD is the meeting where member input and ideas turn into Academy action. Through policy proposals, or “resolutions,” WAFP members bring these ideas to the larger membership for debate and ask for Academy attention to those issues. Any two members can submit a resolution, although often resolutions come from local chapters or one of WAFP’s committees.

The schedule of the HOD has three sections:

  1. First session: In the morning, the HOD convenes. The first item in the order of business is a roll call, which designates attendees as delegates and reconciles the number of delegates in attendance with the number allotted by the bylaws. Seated delegates then vote on a “consent agenda” to agree to the rules, accept the minutes from the previous year, and other non-controversial actions. Delegates then hear a presentation from the WAFP president and the invited AAFP visitor — usually an officer or member of the AAFP Board of Directors — and recognize the WAFP members who have died during the previous year. Delegates also formally accept resolutions for consideration and debate the necessity of resolutions not submitted by the stated deadline. There is also a call for interested additional candidates for open leadership positions.
  2. Reference committees: After the first session, attendees may participate in reference committee meetings. Reference committee meetings provide the first chance for members to debate the content of resolutions submitted to the HOD.

A reference committee is administered by three WAFP members (a committee chair, secretary, and member-at-large). These members, selected by the Speaker and Vice Speaker prior to the start of the HOD, are tasked with hearing testimony on the resolutions assigned to their committee. After testimony concludes, the reference committee then incorporates that testimony and their knowledge of WAFP and AAFP policy into a recommendation for the entire HOD to discuss. The reference committees’ recommendation on resolutions comes back to the House in one of the following formats:

  • Adopt (accept a resolution as is)
  • Adopt in lieu of (accept a resolution, though with changes)
  • Not adopt (reject a resolution)
  • Reaffirm as current policy (this indicates the reference committee believes the asks of the resolution are already being undertaken by current WAFP work)
  • Refer to the Board (send the resolution to the WAFP Board of Directors for further study)

There are usually three reference committees, though more may be added if the number of resolutions necessitates this. Because each reference committee hears testimony on multiple resolutions, a list is displayed, showing which resolution is currently being discussed.

Note: Between the first and second session of the HOD, delegates vote in leadership elections.

  1. Second session: In the afternoon, the HOD reconvenes to hear and debate the recommendations of the reference committees. Delegates may accept the recommendation or request modifications. During the second session, the Speaker and Vice Speaker of the House also announce the results of the elections.

Two other events happen on the date of the HOD. First, the WAFP Foundation takes a few minutes in the afternoon to update the membership on its work. Second, the Academy hosts a social gathering in the evening for delegates. alternate delegates, and their families to celebrate a day of good work!

The HOD “Manual” — now electronic

The HOD manual serves as WAFP’s annual report, providing information to members related to the work, finances, and decisions of the Academy during the previous year. There is a wealth of information in the manual; here’s a quick guide on parts of the manual that will be most helpful to delegates:

What delegates must know: What delegates should know: What delegates might want to know:
1. Important Instructions and Information (this section) 5. Rules and Regulations 7. WAFP bylaws
2. Resolutions 6. Agendas 8. Necrology report
3. Proposed bylaws changes (if any)
4. Leadership nominees

NOTES:

  • There are no bylaws amendments before the 2024 House of Delegates.
  • The Rules and Regulations are the principles by which the HOD operates. They are approved by the House each year. By contrast, this section (Important Instructions and Information) is informal and, we hope, more user-friendly to all participants.
  • The necrology report is the annual observance of WAFP members who have died since the most recent convening of the House of Delegates. If you see an error, please email info@wafp.net.

Speaking at the HOD

All delegates and alternate delegates are granted the “privilege of the floor” at both HOD sessions and in reference committees. This means delegates and alternates are encouraged to speak in these sessions. Members’ insights on a particular topic helps make WAFP policy more effective and representative.

To speak during reference committee hearings, members follow the instructions of the reference committee chair. When recognized, participants introduce themselves by stating their name, local chapter, and whether they speak in favor of, or in opposition to, the resolution. (Those speaking on behalf of a committee or other group should say that as well.) As noted earlier, each reference committee maintains a list of the resolutions they are hearing and in what order; this helps members who are moving among the reference committee hearings.

Members who wish to address the full House should move to the nearest of the two microphones to be recognized by the Speaker. As in reference committee testimony, those speaking start by stating their name, chapter, and disposition on the issue at hand. Doing so helps people learn who you are and is essential for helping others in the room understand the speaker’s comments.

Notes About Votes

Delegates (but not alternate delegates) cast votes in leadership elections and on procedural and business matters before the House of Delegates.

Leadership elections are conducted electronically through SurveyMonkey. Results are certified by one of the “tellers,” an alternate delegate tasked with helping the HOD with its administrative tasks. If a delegate does not have a device capable of accessing SurveyMonkey, WAFP staff will help by providing one. Business and procedural matters are subject to a voice vote.

Resolution Structure

Resolutions have two sections. The first section provides a list of reasons for why the resolution is necessary (collectively called the “whereas clauses,” because the first word of each paragraph is “WHEREAS”). The second section, called the “resolved clauses,” describes the author's’ desired action to be taken by WAFP. Each resolved clause should be able to be read and understood independently of any other resolved clause to help the HOD do its work most effectively.

Resolution authors must submit resolutions 60 days prior to the House of Delegates. This allows WAFP staff time to provide background information, such as other policies that pertain to the resolution, and allows members time to review and reflect on the content of the resolution.

Resolutions submitted fewer than 60 days before the HOD are considered late and require a 2/3 vote of the delegates to even be considered by the House. Late resolutions are discouraged but may be appropriate if the following criteria are met: 1) the issue was not knowable in advance (i.e., meaning the author could not have known about the issue in time to submit the resolution by the deadline) and 2) the issue requires action by the HOD this year (i.e., it cannot wait until the following year or be handled by the WAFP Board in between meetings of the HOD).

Titles and Roles at the House of Delegates

HOD leaders:

  • Speaker of the House: An elected position and a member of the WAFP Executive Committee, the Speaker presides over the HOD. They are responsible for appointing reference committees and other special committees of the House. The Speaker may vote only on resolutions, and even then, only to create or break a tie.
  • Vice Speaker of the House: The Vice Speaker assists the Speaker in the administration of the House of Delegates. This is also an elected position.
  • Assistant Secretary-Treasurer: The person in this elected position is asked to conduct the roll call of delegates and read the necrology report.
  • Reference committees: Reference committees hear testimony and use that to develop a recommendation to the HOD on the resolutions they are assigned. Three members (chair, secretary, and member-at-large) comprise a reference committee.

Appointed positions:

  • Parliamentarian: The parliamentarian advises the Speaker and Vice Speaker on matters relating to parliamentary procedure.
  • Surveyor (appointed by the Speaker and subject to the approval of the House): The surveyor, and their report, help the HOD understand the work that is done on resolutions from year to year.
  • Tellers: A group of alternate delegates (see below for more on alternate delegates) appointed by the Speaker to handle administrative roles during the HOD.

Participants:

  • Delegates: WAFP members at the HOD who vote on resolutions and elect Academy leadership.
  • Alternate delegates: Members who are available to stand in for a delegate if a delegate is unable to participate in the HOD. Alternates may be asked to serve in an administrative capacity. Alternate delegates are encouraged to provide testimony just as delegates would.
  • Local chapters: Each WAFP member is also a member of one of 13 local chapters, typically based upon where they work. An annual census (provided by AAFP) determines how many delegates and alternate delegates the chapters are allotted. Note: Residents and medical students have their own statewide chapters as it relates to the House of Delegates.

House of Delegates Logistics

  • Registration: Attendees pick up their name badge and any other materials outside of the main room. The documents making up the “manual” are available online and are available on a USB drive (see WAFP staff).
  • Schedule: A schedule is included in attendees’ registration materials and online.
  • Seating: At the start of the first session, a roll call is held to create a roster of voting delegates. Delegates are expected to be present for the entire meeting. If a delegate leaves the session before it adjourns, the chapter may fill the delegate’s seat with an alternate or substitute only as prescribed in WAFP’s bylaws.
  • Rules and Regulations: While this section provides an informal overview of the workings of the HOD, a section titled Rules and Regulations describes the formal operation of the House of Delegates. The rules and regulations must be approved by the HOD.

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