District Representatives of Zones 4, 5 and 6A got a taste of the 2019 Council on Legislation (CoL) to be held in Evanston, at a mock session which formed part of the Chennai Zone Institute. Alongside training, this session provided an overview of the Council and allowed new representatives to consult and interact with past representatives of the CoL. PDGs T N Subramanian, P T Ramkumar and the Deputy General Counsel from RI, Maureen Ninneman, explained in detail the Dos and Don’ts and the procedure to be adhered to at the CoL.
“The sergeants at the CoL are tough, you cannot waste time on last minute coffee with your spouse,” warned Subramanian. Maureen pointed out that the representatives to the CoL must have attended their Zone Institute and completed the new online training course, in order to have their Council expenses funded by Rotary. Unless they have an exemption from the Council Chairman. “Representatives who do not complete the training an attend the Council, but they will be responsible for their own expenses.”
The session saw representatives discuss, practise and review the Indian enactments printed in the proposed legislation 2019, a copy of which was handed out to all participants. Maureen stressed that all representatives “must study the legislation” before attending the CoL and plan strategies they could use at the programme.
“Download the CoL App, because it will act as your entry pass, lunch token and reminder. All notifications will be sent to you through the App,” she said. Moving on to rules she reminded the representatives, “You will be given three precious minutes. Whatever you say has to be concise and factual.” But even before all that, “discuss proposed legislation at the district conference or other meetings and understand the different perspectives of Rotarians within your district and make sure you act as an objective legislator of RI.” Also, they have to attend the entire meeting of the Council which meets for five days from 8.30 am to 6 pm.
In an interactive round, the Rules of Procedure — how a resolution is to be tabled/withdrawn, how to move a motion, what are the motions that are debatable/amendable, were discussed. There are two kinds of proposals: an enactment, which would amend the constitution or by-laws of RI or a club, and a resolution, which expresses an opinion or makes a recommendation to the RI Board, explained Subramanian. “Whether you are ‘for’ or ‘against’ an enactment, you must wait for the debate to be completed to reach a conclusion. Many times, your opinion may change after the debate because you are thrown open to other representatives’ opinion.”
On the use of cards, Maureen explained that, “the green is ‘for’ the proposal, red shows you are ‘against’ and you will be using these cards only during the discussion phase.” Using the yellow card will represent that “you want to move an amendment or use it as a point of information. Make a note of your doubts regarding the proposal and ask the Chair without fear. The yellow and blue striped card is specifically used for closure. You flash it and the Chair will close the debate midway. So, without understanding the cards, do not use them.”
PDG Rekha Shetty, D 3232’s representative for the 2019 CoL, said that “this was a great learning experience and has helped in understating how to go about things.”
Highlights of the 2016 CoL were also discussed.
Describing the critical role of the CoL, Maureen said, “Over decades, the Council has debated and weighed virtually every nuance of the RI policy and every detail of membership, attendance rules and dues. While individual Rotarians may not always agree with its decisions, the Council is Rotary’s primary agent for change, allowing the organisation to evaluate its relevance in today’s rapidly evolving world, reflecting shifts in lifestyles, priorities, technology, and business.”
Pictures by K Vishwanathan