“That all important decisions be reached by discussion, vote, and, whenever possible, by substantial unanimity.” This principle further guarantees that all matters of importance, time permitting, will be extensively debated, and that such debates will continue until a really heavy majority can support every critical decision that we are called upon to make…(Concept 12, Warranty 4)
Motions are the way we make decisions in the District. Any voting member may present a motion. Generally, the maker of the motion informs the DCMC well in advance of the District Business Meeting so that time can be set aside for the motion, and the exact wording of the motion can be printed on the agenda. Motions made at the District usually tell us at least three pieces of information:
- what you want to do,
- why you want to do it (what is the purpose),
- and what are you asking the District for (change in policy, spiritual support, supplies, money, etc.).
Motions are presented to the District by GSRs, DCMs or other District Officers. Most motions come from a group conscience (group, sub-district or district committee) and therefore they do not need to be seconded; if a motion comes from an individual then the motion does need to be seconded by a voting member.
Housekeeping motions are only presentations, so there may be clarification or questions, but not substantial discussion or debate. A Housekeeping Motion passes if there is no objection. If there is any objection, the motion becomes New Business. We only use housekeeping motions to address certain types of issues, those that ARE: simple in nature, address minor objectives, are lower impact, and are procedural only. Housekeeping motions are typically routine motions. We DO NOT use housekeeping motions for issues that: set policy, set precedent, are expensive, are controversial, affect other entities, or AA as a whole.
1) Presentation of New Business – This is where the maker of the motion presents the motion. We ask questions about the intent of the motion only.
Amending a Motion
When a motion is in its first phase, Presentation of New Business, a member of the District can suggest an amendment to the motion. This is typically done for clarification or a very slight change to the motion. An amendment should not be made to significantly change the intent of the motion. The maker of the motion can choose whether or not to accept the amendment.
2) New Business – A motion is considered “New Business” the first time there is discussion at the business meeting. GSRs present their group’s conscience. DCMs present their sub-district’s conscience. Personal opinions can be shared as well. The motion is not eligible for a vote.
3) Old Business – A motion is considered “Old Business” when it has previously been discussed at the District Business Meeting. We continue the discussion. GSRs present their group’s conscience. DCMs present their sub-district’s conscience. Personal opinions can be shared as well. The motion is now eligible for a vote, but it does not need to be voted on just because it is Old Business. The motion remains “Old Business” until it is voted on; this can take more than one business meeting.
A motion should not be voted on until it is old business. But, just because it is old business does not mean that we need to vote right away. A motion remains old business until the DCMC feels the motion has been discussed adequately. The DCMC may ask if the body is prepared to vote by asking for a “sense of the room” or the DCMC can make this decision by listening to the group consciences to see if issues have been discussed enough to proceed with a vote.
a) Impact of Motion – Before the vote is taken the impact of the motion should be restated to the District.
b) Voting Members – The voting members of the District are GSRs, DCMs, and other District Officers. Alternates have a vote if the person they are an alternate for is not currently present.
c) Substantial Unanimity – A vote taken that requires 2/3 to pass. Most motions are voted on this way. This is used for motions that affect policy, set a precedent, involve more money, are controversial, and/or those that have an impact outside our District.
d) Simple Majority – A vote taken that requires over 1/2 in favor to pass. This is typically used for motions that are procedural, not controversial, have lower impact and involve less money.
e) Abstentions – A voting member can abstain from the vote. These abstentions are counted separately. Abstentions are not counted in the total number of votes when the percentage necessary for the motion to pass is calculated.
f) Minority Opinion – After a vote is taken, a voting member from the side that did not pass (this is not necessarily the side with the lower number of votes) can share a minority opinion. It is better to try to share before the vote rather than intentionally waiting to share during the Minority Opinion.
g) Vote to Reconsider – After hearing the minority opinion, the DCMC asks if anyone who voted on the side that did pass (this is not necessarily the higher number) wants to make a motion to reconsider. If this is seconded, there will be a simple majority vote taken to decide if discussion should be reopened. If this passes discussion will continue, typically at the next meeting. There is no minority opinion nor vote to reconsider at a second vote. If the motion to reconsider does not pass, then the issue is closed.
h) Calling the Question – This is not something we do. AA seeks to reach “substantial unanimity” on issues. See Concepts Four and Five for more information.