Guidelines for Writing a Resolution
A resolution is a main motion in parliamentary procedure which expresses an assembly's formal opinions or sentiments.
A resolution can be introduced by a specialty or state delegation, a section, a county society, etc., or by an individual. The name of the group introducing the resolution should appear at the top. It is understood that a resolution introduced by an organization (rather than an individual) has the support and approval of the organization's entire delegation.
A resolution is generally prefaced by statements, each introduced by the word "Whereas," which state the reasons for the resolution. Whereas clauses (preambles of the resolution) should
- Identify a problem or need for action
- Address timeliness or urgency
- Note any effects on the organization being asked to adopt the resolution or the public at large
- Indicate whether the proposed policy or action will alter current policy
Whereas clauses are not voted upon. They offer an explanation and the rationale for the resolution. They have no legal effect but can be the cause of much disagreement and discussion. Members frequently attempt to debate and amend these prefacing statements, often to the neglect of the main resolution.
The contents and composition of the whereas clauses are useful mainly when the organization plans to publish the resolution and wishes the reasons for its adoption to be read with it. A preamble paragraph can be substituted for the whereas clause. It serves the same purpose, but is less formal.
The resolve clause(s) comes at the end of all prefacing statements. IT IS THE ESSENTIAL PART OF THE RESOLUTION. Resolve clauses should be concise and clear. They should be stated in the affirmative, since the negative form is often confusing.
Each resolution should address a single issue only. If multiple resolve clauses are included in a resolution, each resolve clause must be independent, related to the central subject and completely comprehensible after removal of the whereas clauses. EACH RESOLVE CLAUSE MUST BE ABLE TO STAND ALONE IN ITS CONTENT, LOGIC AND STRUCTURE.
REWRITING A RESOLUTION
If a resolution is unclear, confusing or unnecessarily long and involved - or if the resolve clause is stated in the negative - it is within the purview of the Chair, prior to the opening of the Assembly, to request that the author rephrase the motion, and to offer help in doing so. However, the author has final approval over any rephrased wording.
WITHDRAWING A RESOLUTION
An author may rephrase or withdraw a resolution at any time before it is brought to the attention of the Assembly for consideration by the Chair.
TYPES OF RESOLUTIONS
Internal resolution: Calls on an organization to take a specific action or position that affects only that organization.
External resolution: Requests that a specific action or policy be adopted which necessitates contact with government, other organizations, the public or media.
Combination Resolution: The internal and external positions should appear in separate, free-standing resolve clauses.
Where considerable expense is anticipated in order to achieve the goals and objectives of a resolution, a fiscal note should be included at the bottom of the resolution. Example: Fiscal Note: $1,000.
All resolutions must be submitted by a deadline determined by the Speaker or Chair and announced in advance of the meeting. Resolutions submitted after this deadline will be considered late resolutions and will require either written or verbal background describing the importance and urgency of the resolution's concept as well as a convincing reason for the resolution's late submission.
Resolutions should be submitted to the Assembly in the following format:
NAME OF GROUP TO WHICH THE RESOLUTION IS BEING SENT
(Number will be assigned by group)
TITLE: Title you choose to give your resolution
(The title should reflect the content or goal of the resolution)
AUTHOR: Name of person, section, school, organization submitting the resolution
(If a single person is submitting the resolution without the support of a delegation, section, school, etc., it should be so indicated by the inclusion of "as an individual" after the person's name.)
REFERRED TO: Reference Committee on Legislative Affairs
(Will be assigned to a reference committee by the group considering the resolution)
Whereas, The use of parliamentary procedure accomplishes the business of organizations in the most efficient manner; and
Whereas, The use of formal resolutions has proven to be the most efficient method of changing or establishing policy and accomplishing specific objectives within those organizations; therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the use of formal resolutions be continued in order to accomplish the business of the organization; and be it further
RESOLVED, That these resolutions will be well written, concise, and properly structured.
POINTS TO REMEMBER
- How a resolution is written will determine whether it is adopted or defeated. If the intent of the resolution is unclear, it may be defeated even if you explain it on the floor of the Assembly.
- Poor grammar can defeat a resolution. If you are unsure how to state something so that it expresses your intention, consult your colleagues for feedback - sometimes the questions they ask will help things coalesce in your mind. If a resolution is poorly written, no matter how well intended, it will be looked upon by the Assembly as a waste of its time.
- Whereas clauses can defeat or pass a resolution. More is not necessarily better. State your reasons for the resolution, but don't be redundant. The Assembly will focus on the redundancies in your resolution rather than the supporting information contained in it.
- Research your topic if necessary. Solid data should be presented which supports the requested action. It is important that you take the overall historical development of the issue into consideration. Sources to consider are the AMA Policy Compendium, MSSNY position papers, organizational bylaws, the digest of actions of any AMA section, reports of proceedings of the House (both MSSNY and AMA), council reports and actions, annual reports, specialty society proceedings, etc. Certain organizations require that you cite your references.
- Too many resolve clauses may cause referral or defeat of a resolution. Therefore do not try to accomplish too much with one resolution. If you have written a resolution with many resolve clauses, your purpose may be better accomplished if you divide them into separate resolutions. The Assembly may adopt the resolutions more readily if they are considered separately. However, the other side of this is also true: the Assembly may feel that several separate resolutions are so closely related that they should be considered and adopted as one.