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Deputies Back Rules Changes, Nix Longer GC

After nearly a year of consternation about proposals to change the rules of order that govern the House of Deputies, it turns out that while the opponents were vocal, they were few in number.

Three key proposals were passed overwhelmingly June 27, in votes that do not require ratification by the House of Bishops. In each case, the loudest sentiment came in the voice vote that called for ending debate and voting immediately.

Resolution 152 establishes what deputy Steve Pankey of Kentucky described as a “soft deadline” for submitting proposed resolutions 60 days before the start of future General Conventions. Pankey told the house that the deadline had been eased from 90 days to 60 in response to concerns, and that there are a variety of mechanisms for introducing post-deadline resolutions. The rules previously allowed new resolutions until the end of the second legislative day.

Opponents testified that the change would force too much of the work of General Convention into the weeks and months before the convention. There was disagreement over whether the change would reduce the overall number of resolutions, which strains the capacity of the house.

The resolution required two-thirds approval, and cleared that hurdle handily at 85 percent.

Resolution 157 set another soft deadline for legislative committee reports, requiring them to be filed by seven days before the start of the first legislative session. Pre-COVID, legislative committees would not even meet until they gathered at the site of General Convention.

Opponents made a variety of arguments, including that the earlier deadline would “stifle the voices” of people who could not take time off from work to attend pre-convention legislative hearings. Proponents stressed the importance of early submission because the church has become far more serious in recent years about translating all documents into Spanish and French, which takes time.

Again two-thirds approval was required. A157 was backed by 81 percent of the deputies.

Resolution A156, allowing submission of written testimony and described as “a no-brainer,” was passed by near-unanimous voice vote.

As far back as the summer of 2023, opposition began bubbling up regarding rules changes that had been proposed by a special committee of five people appointed by President of the House of Deputies Julia Ayala Harris. She was one of the five, and accusations of cronyism formed part of the narrative opposing her reelection. She was handily reelected on the first ballot June 25.

Much of the opposition to making more use of technology for pre-convention work has come from deputies who cherish the collaboration and relationship building that occurs when people gather at General Convention.

The durations of recent General Conventions have been eight legislative days in 2018, four legislative days in 2022, and six such days this year. Resolution D048 would have mandated that future General Conventions meet for no fewer than 10 days. The deputies voted nearly unanimously to take no further action on the resolution, effectively killing it.

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