To the Members of the 2022 House of Delegates
of the Washington Academy of Family Physicians
Thank you for your interest in the Academy's important annual event! WAFP’s bylaws place the House of Delegates (HOD) as the ultimate source of power within the organization — above the president, above the Board of Directors — it is the voice of members. By participating, members help shape the priorities of the Academy.
If the processes of a House of Delegates are new to you, we hope this information provides a good grounding for your participation. Use the links below to move to a different section on this page:
- Who Can Be A Delegate
- How the House of Delegates Works: An Overview
- Where to Find Information
- Make Your Voice Heard
- Notes About Votes
- What is a Resolution
- People (and Groups of People) to Know at the House of Delegates
Who Can Be A Delegate
Any WAFP member in good standing can attend the HOD as a delegate; delegates are simply members who offer information, debate, and vote on Academy policy initiatives at this event.
The HOD is the place to discuss ideas that affect all members across the state. Delegates do not have to be WAFP officers, members of the Board, or committee chairs; leaders are not automatically delegates. Members who agree to be delegates are encouraged to talk with colleagues about issues so they better represent their chapter; delegates make decisions that affect the whole of the Academy.
WAFP's bylaws include a formula for how many delegates represent each local chapter. Residents and medical students also have statewide chapters and participate as delegates. In addition, the bylaws allow for alternate delegates should a local chapter fill its allotment of delegates. Alternate delegates fill in for delegates who might find themselves unable to participate and help administer the House of Delegates by distributing ballots or counting votes.
How the House of Delegates Works: An Overview
The HOD brings together WAFP members from across the state for two purposes: to elect leaders and direct the near-term work of the Academy. The former is simple: delegates directly vote for new leaders and affirm the elections of WAFP’s resident and medical student members. The latter is a bit more involved.
Think of HOD as a compact version of the state legislature or Congress: any member is welcome to introduce legislation that directs action to help solve a problem among a particular community. The mechanics of the HOD are similar: a subset of WAFP members introduce “legislation” (called a resolution) that directs action within the Academy to help solve a problem. That action is reviewed by WAFP staff (adding information) and debated by participants in the House of Delegates. Ultimately, the HOD decides to accept, modify, reject, or further study the actions recommended by each resolution.
There are three main components to the event:
- First session: In the morning, the HOD convenes to conduct a roll call, which officially designates delegates, and to adopt a consent agenda that agrees to the rules, accepts the minutes from the previous year, and other actions. Attendees hear a presentation from the WAFP president and the AAFP visitor, usually an officer or member of the AAFP Board of Directors. The first session also pays tribute to WAFP members who have died during the previous year; formally accepts resolutions for consideration; debates the worthiness of resolutions not submitted by the stated deadline; and calls for additional candidates to the day’s elections.
- Reference committees: After the first session, reference committees convene, providing the first chance for attendees to debate resolutions. The committees’ job is to hear and incorporate testimony into one of the following recommended courses of action:
- Adopt (accept a resolution as-is)
- Adopt substitute (accept a resolution, though with changes)
- Not adopt (reject a resolution)
- Reaffirm as current policy (WAFP maintains a library of past resolutions, dating to 1980)
- Refer to the Board (send the resolution to the Board of Directors for further study)
There are usually three reference committees each made up of a committee chair, a secretary, and a member-at-large. These individuals are chosen by the Speaker and Vice Speaker prior to the start of the HOD. Reference committees consider submitted resolutions and may consider reports submitted by WAFP committees.
- Second session: In the afternoon, all delegates come back together to conduct leadership elections and to debate the recommendations of the reference committees. Delegates are welcome to further modify resolutions after the reference committee presents them; these modifications are subject to approval from the House.
Note: The WAFP Foundation annual meeting typically takes place in the break between the first and second sessions. With so many WAFP members gathered, the Foundation takes the opportunity to report about its work during the previous year. However, this is technically not a part of the HOD program.
Where to Find Information
An HOD manual has traditionally served as WAFP’s annual report, providing information to members related to the work, finances, and decisions of the Academy during the previous year. The information included in the manual is now presented on the WAFP's website and is separated into what delegates may need for the day of the event and other reporting. Below is a quick guide on parts of the manual that will be most helpful to delegates:
|What delegates must know:||What delegates should know:||What would be nice for delegates to know:|
|Important Instructions and Information (you're reading it now!)||Rules and Regulations||WAFP bylaws|
Make Your Voice Heard
All delegates and alternate delegates are granted "the privilege of the floor" at both HOD sessions and in reference committees - this means all are encouraged to offer insights on a particular topic to help make WAFP policy as effective and representative as it can be!
To speak during the first or second session, delegates follow the instructions of the speaker. To speak during the reference committee hearings, delegates follow the instructions of the reference committee chair. No matter where a delegate is speaking, they begin their remarks by stating their name, local chapter, and whether they speak in favor of or in opposition to the resolution or motion on the floor.
Since each reference committee hears testimony on multiple resolutions, a list will be displayed to show which resolution is currently being discussed.
Notes About Votes
Delegates (but not alternate delegates) cast votes in leadership elections and during the two sessions of the House of Delegates.
Election voting occurs during the break between the first and second session. The Speaker will provide further instructions prior to the start of voting.
Procedural votes occur throughout the two sessions. In the first session, for instance, delegates may be called on to vote to accept a late resolution. (More on late resolutions below.) In the second session, delegates will vote to accept reference committee recommendations or any proposed changes to those recommendations.
What is a Resolution
Resolutions ask the WAFP to spend its resources (e.g., members' dues, staff and member time) to act on an issue, change its policy, or use its influence on issues important to family physicians.
There are two sections in each resolution. The first section argues the case for why this resolution is necessary (collectively called the “whereas clauses,” because the first word of each sentence is “WHEREAS”). The second section, called the “resolved clauses”, describes the action(s) to be taken by WAFP. Resolved clauses should be able to stand alone, i.e., each clause should be able to be read and understood independently of any other resolved clause.
Resolutions must be submitted 60 days prior to the HOD. Resolutions submitted within 60 days of the HOD are considered to be late resolutions and require a 2/3 vote of acceptance from the House of Delegates. Late resolutions are discouraged but may be appropriate in limited circumstances: if the issue was not knowable in advance and the issue requires action by the HOD this year (as opposed to waiting another year or being handled by the Board of Directors later in the year).
People (and Groups of People) to Know 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 proceedings. They are responsible for appointing reference committees and any 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. It is also an elected position.
- Assistant Secretary-Treasurer: The person in this position is typically called on to conduct the roll call of delegates. The assistant secretary-treasurer also oversees the necrology report.
- Reference committees: The reference committees are the first point of consideration for resolutions submitted to the House of Delegates. They hear testimony and incorporate it into a recommendation to the House of Delegates on what action to take on a given resolution. 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 subject to the approval of the House): The surveyor, and their report, help the House of Delegates 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 help administer leadership elections. Tellers assist with voting processes.
- Miscellaneous: The Speaker retains the power to appoint other positions as well, including a sergeant-at-arms, a chief teller, and a credentials committee. In recent years, the Speakers have not seen fit to appoint people to these positions.
- Delegates: WAFP members who will vote on resolutions and elect Academy leadership at the HOD.
- Alternate delegates: Alternate delegates stand ready should a delegate be unable to participate in the House of Delegates. As noted previously, they are often called upon to serve as tellers. Except voting privileges, alternate delegates retain all the rights and responsibilities as delegates.
- Local chapters: Each WAFP member is also a member of one of 13 local chapters, typically based upon where they work. An annual census determines how many delegates and alternate delegates the chapters will be allotted.
- Of note: Residents and medical students have their own statewide chapters as it relates to the House of Delegates.