To the Members of the House of Delegates
of the Washington Academy of Family Physicians
(Note: This Important Instructions and Information document is revised yearly. Below is what was presented to the 2023 House.)
Thank you for serving your Academy at this important annual event. The House of Delegates (HOD) 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
- An Overview of the House of Delegates
- The HOD "Manual" — now electronic
- Speaking at the HOD
- Notes About Votes
- Resolution Structure
- Titles and Roles at the House of Delegates
- House of Delegates Logistics
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; in essence, these are extra delegates who are available to serve but who 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 of the House is the elected WAFP officer 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 that affect the whole of the Academy at the HOD.
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 turns into Academy action. Through policy proposals, or “resolutions,” WAFP members bring 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 standing 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. The House (voting delegates) then votes 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 (during a section titled the necrology report). Delegates also formally accept resolutions for consideration; debate the necessity of resolutions not submitted by the stated deadline; and 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 has three WAFP members in the roles of committee chair, secretary, and member-at-large, respectively. These members, selected by the Speaker and Vice Speaker prior to the start of the HOD, are tasked with hearing debate (or testimony) on the resolutions assigned to their committee. After testimony, 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 substitute (accept a resolution, though with changes)
- Not adopt (reject a resolution)
- Reaffirm as current policy (stating that 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 makes three impractical. Because each reference committee hears testimony on multiple resolutions, the committee displays a list to show which resolution is currently being discussed.
Note: Between the first and second session of the HOD delegates vote on open WAFP leadership roles.
3. Second session: In the afternoon, the HOD reconvenes to hear and debate the recommendations of the reference committees. Delegates vote on the recommendations and may accept the recommendation or request modifications. During this second session, the Speaker and Vice Speaker of the House 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 update the membership on its work. Second, the Academy hosts a social gathering in the evening for delegates and alternate delegates to celebrate a day of good work!
The HOD “Manual” — now electronic
The HOD manual is WAFP’s annual report, providing information to members related to the work, finances, and decisions of the Academy during the previous year. There is still 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|
|4. Leadership nominees|
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 will follow the instructions of the reference committee chair. Members introduce themselves by stating their name, local chapter, and whether the comments to be shared are in favor of, or in opposition to, the resolution. 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 committees.
Members who wish to address the full House will move to the nearest microphone (two are provided in the room) to be recognized by the Speaker. As in reference committee testimony, those speaking will start by stating their name and chapter. This 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” (i.e., an alternated 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.
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 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).
Titles and Roles at the House of Delegates
- 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 position is asked to conduct the roll call of delegates and read the necrology report.
- Reference committees: Reference committees hear testimony and use that testimony to develop a recommendation to the HOD on the resolutions they hear. Three members (chair, secretary, and member-at-large) comprise a reference committee.
- 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.
- 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 a delegate is unable to participate in the HOD. Alternates may be asked to serve in an administrative capacity. Except voting privileges, alternate delegates retain all the rights and responsibilities as delegates, which means they are encouraged to provide testimony.
- 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 to the HOD 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, delegates’ credentials are reviewed to create a roll of the 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. The Speaker of the House asks delegates to occupy the same seat throughout the day in the HOD sessions.
- 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.