By Greg Peele, LPF Director At-Large 3

Given the business known to be before at the 2018 Convention in Ft. Walton Beach, I've prepared a short review and assessment of the motions from the Rules Committee. If time permits, I will follow up with an assessment of the known floor motions. As always, note the disclaimer: this review is purely personal opinion and does not represent any official position or statement of the Libertarian Party of Florida or the Libertarian Party of Orange County.

I won't be reproducing the text of the official motions in this review - please check out https://docs.lpf.org/2018-motions/ for the original text.

2017 Carryover Motions

We have a number of motions that were originally submitted for the 2017 Cocoa Beach Convention, but were not voted on.

Motion # 2017-ABM-C-01

Title: Motion to amend Constitution Art I, Sect. 2 and 3

Text: Motion by the Rules Committee renaming the Article, striking existing Sections 2 and 3, and replacing with a new Section 2.

Disposition: Uncertain - Further Discussion Required

Review: This motion reworks the main "mission statement" of the LPF. It moves the adoption of the LP Statement of Principles to the very first clause - see https://www.lp.org/platform/ - which is both a great statement and the only explicit requirement to be an official state party affiliate of the national LP. The other changes rework a sub-section bulleted list into a paragraph sequential list format, conducts some wordsmithing, and makes more explicit statements as to what types of activities are in scope of the LPF of mission. I originally supported this motion. However, reading an alternate analysis from Fred Coulter - https://libertarian.fredrikvladimircoulter.com/2018/02/06/motion-motion-to-amend-constitution-art-i-sect-2-and-3/ - showed some flaws I had not considered.

Not dating which Statement of Principles does, in theory, mean that if the national party changes their Statement of Principles, we would automatically have to follow suit. This was a substantial criticism of the LPF Platform motions in 2017 which similarly included the national by platform by reference. That said, it takes a 7/8 majority vote to change the Statement of Principles, so that is fairly unlikely, and if we do not adopt the change we automatically secede from the national LP regardless. I'd rather a secession be explicitly moved rather than automatic.

I do agree that removing the clause about aiding local affiliates is not a good change.

Regarding national candidates - the only national non-Congressional candidates are President and Vice-President, so I believe the two statements are equivalent.

One subtle change I did not originally pick up is the new phrase "chartering affiliate parties throughout the State of Florida and promoting their growth and activities." This does not explicitly limit affiliate parties to county affiliates, which is an interesting change if it was intentional. Almost all other kinds of affiliates I can think of should be subordinate to county affiliates rather than the state party, so I am hesitant to embrace this change.

In light of these subtle but potentially significant changes, I would like to hear further discussion, including the motivations of the Rules Committee, before I can vote to adopt this change. In the absence of sufficient explanation and/or amendments, I would have to vote no out of caution.

Motion # 2017-ABM-C-02

Title: Motion to amend Constitution Art II, Sects. 1 and 5 

Text: Motion by the Rules Committee to amend Constitution, Article II, Sections 1 and 5, striking some sections and adding language.

Disposition: Uncertain - Further Discussion Required

Review:  This motion makes one very substantial change to LPF Membership - it makes being registered as an LPF voter a necessary condition of LPF membership. This would remove eligibility of LPF membership to non-voters, nonresidents of Florida, non-citizens, voters registered to other parties, and ex-felons. In that regard it is similar to a later floor motion being reviewed which makes LPF voter registration the sole condition of LPF membership; however this motion retains a notion of separate LPF membership via the Non-Aggression Pledge above and beyond voter registration. Strictly speaking I'm not opposed to that outcome, but I do feel it should be discussed since it is a significant change.

The motion also restricts the ability to bring business before the LPF to LPF members who are LPF voters - which is redundant with the above requirement, since all LPF members must be voters with this amendment - in addition to clarifying that members and officers of other parties are ineligible for such privilege. The latter is technically just barely not redundant since other parties could (in theory) allow membership without being a registered voter in that party, though in practice almost all do. This may be cleaner with an amendment to rework it to just state that the listed privileges are only available to LPF members and leave it at that.

Finally, this motion increases the vote threshold to overrule the chair if he forbids non-members from discussion on motions from majority to 2/3 - normally the Chair has discretion on whether to allow non-members to speak. Has this been a problem in the past? I have no issue with this specific change per se, but I will need to go back later and review what RONR says on this by default.

I have some misgivings on the redundancy of wording and also want to make sure the full scope of change is intentional. However, I may be willing to support the motion after appropriate discussion and possibly amendment. 

Motion # 2017-ABM-B-01

Title: Motion to amend By-Laws Art III, Section 2

Text: Motion by the Rules Committee to amend By-Laws Article III, Sect 2, adding language to 2A, striking all of B, C, D, and E, and adding new B, C, D, and E, striking portions of F and replacing with new language, and striking all of G.

Disposition: Aye - Support

Review: This motion reworks how we handle the unfortunately common occurrence of LPF Executive Committee vacancies. It makes a number of substantive changes.

1.) It requires all offices to be filled and none to be left vacant. Given the paragraph antecedent, this includes Region Representatives, not just officers and Directors. Presumably the penalty for failing to appoint a vacant position would be a charge of dereliction of duty against the Chair, since it is otherwise unspecified.

2.) Reworks how interim appointments work. The existing rules require the Chair to make interim appointments, which is a problem if the Chair himself is the one who resigned. The new rules define a line of succession for who is eligible to make interim appointments - so far as at least one person remains on the EC, the rules remain valid and usable. This enables the EC to make appointments fast enough to meet the state's extremely strict 5-day rule in a consistent way.

3.) Requires special elections for positions that are filled by interim appointment, but only if the next Convention is more than 60 days out. This allows for fast interim appointments while still holding more deliberative elections at the next reasonable opportunity. Makes sense.

4.) Removes language regarding vacant committee positions, which doesn't belong here and is redundant with the actual committee definition sections. Agree.

5.) Requires all committee members, including EC, to be able to show proof of LPF voter registration on request. This prevents any shenanigans of someone changing party affiliation while maintaining an LPF position.

The changes are nontrivial and should be carefully considered, but at this time I support the changes as defined.

Motion # 2017-ABM-B-06

Title: Motion to amend By-Laws Art IV, Sect 5 A

Text: Motion by the Rules Committee to amend By-Laws Article IV, Section 5 A by Striking some language and adding new language

Disposition: Aye - Support

Review: This motion cleans up how the Convention Committee is defined. It makes three specific changes:

1.)  Standardizes the committee appointments to use the same method as other committees - Chair appoints and EC confirms. Existing language is nonstandard and allows any EC member to appoint. This dovetails with my own proposal to standardize the other committees on this.

2.) Removes the requirement that Convention Committee members are appointed 180 days prior to next Convention. This requirement could leave the Convention Committee in a nonfunctional state if there were sufficient resignations from the Committee less than 180 days before the Convention, and at any rate is unnecessary. That said, my ideal preference would be to organize the Convention Committee as a special committee for each Convention rather than as a continuous committee. However, in the absence of a motion to do so - and at this point, I lack the time to carefully craft one that would survive scrutiny - I think standardizing Convention Committee to work like the other committees is the next best fallback. 

3.) Removes the requirement that the LPF share profits from Convention with affiliates in a designated formula. I agree with this change since I believe that the EC should have full discretion over expenditure of funds, and should make a judgment of how to best allocate any Convention profits to support the mission of the party. Nothing prevents the EC from choosing to distribute funds to county affiliates if this language is removed, of course.

2018 Rules Committee Packet

The Rules Committee has submitted an additional new set of motions to consider.

Motion # 2018-ABM-C-01

Title: Motion to amend Constitution Art II, Section 5

Text: Motion to amend LPF Constitution Article II, Section 5, adding new language.

Disposition: Aye - Support

Review: This change clarifies that county affiliate officers are required to be LPF voters and members. Strictly speaking, state law at least requires them to be LPF voters, but this removes a disputed interpretation that has come up on reaffiliation petitions. There is also some redundant language changes with 2017-ABM-C-02 that may be invalidated if that motion passes. I think it make sense to be explicit in this requirement and thus I support this motion.

Motion # 2018-ABM-C-02

Title: Motion to amend Constitution Article III, Section 4

Text: Motion to amend LPF Constitution Article III, Section 4 

Disposition: Aye - Support with Amendment

Review: This change makes the three non-EC Rules Committee members elected by the delegation instead of appointed by the Chair and confirmed by the EC. Given the critical nature of the Rules Committee in serving as a check and balance on the EC, I agree with the premise of this change making the Rules Committee more independent of the EC. It also dovetails nicely with own proposal to clarify committee terms, durations, and appointment methods. Note that the current language actually has a (presumably unintended?) loophole that allows the Chair to appoint members unilaterally, which is especially egregious given that the Chair also serves on the committee. This amendment provides a suitable fix. It also clarifies that the Rules Committee is tasked with all governing documents, not just the Constitution, and clarifies that the usual method for filling vacancies (Chair appoints and EC confirms) is also to be used.

There are a few issues with this motion however. The first is that it does not clarify how the Rules Committee Chair is selected, so in theory the Chair could appoint himself or the Secretary as the Rules Chair instead of one of the three elected members. So I think the motion needed to be clarified that the Rules Committee Chair is one of the three elected positions.

The second issue is that it is unclear when the first election should be held if this motion passes - do we elect Rules Committee members now in 2018? Or do previously appointed members serve until their appointment term expires under the old rules, vacancies are filled, and then the first elections are held in 2019? It depends, particularly, on whether amendments to the rules occur immediately or occur at the end of the Convention.

Motion # 2018-ABM-C-03

Title: Motion to amend Constitution Article III, Sections 3 through 9

Text: Motion to to amend Constitution Article III, Sections 3 through 9 by inserting the language contained in the LPF Constitution Article III, Sections 3 through 9 in their entirety, into LPF Bylaws as Article III, striking the original language that was moved to the ByLaws, renaming LPF Bylaws Article III Standing Committees and Ad Hoc Committees, inserting the language originally contained in the LPF Bylaws Article III in its entirety into LPF Constitution Article III, beginning Section 3, striking the original language that was moved to the Constitution, renaming LPF Constitution Article III Officers and Executive Committee, and renumbering both.

Disposition: Aye - Support

Review: This motion does one simple but very useful thing - move all committee definitions into the Bylaws from the Constitution. The Constitution really should only be the absolute core of principle and governing machinery and shouldn't go into gory detail - review the Florida state constitution for a good counterexample of how this can go wrong. The advantage of having committee definitions in the Bylaws is to make them easier to update and amend as needed to support the mission of the party. In particular, it is possible (albeit not easy) to amend the Bylaws in between Convention.

Motion # 2018-ABM-B-01

Title: Motion to amend By-Laws Article I, Sections 4 and 5

Text: Motion to amend the LPF Bylaws Article I, adding a new Section 4 and Section 5

Disposition: Aye - Support with Minor Caveats

Review: This is a correlated Bylaws change to 2018-ABM-C-01 which synchronizes the Bylaws definition with the core constitutional definition. The definitions here are consistent with state law requirements and clarifies that this is also a condition of affiliation. The one piece that I'm unsure about is the clause explicitly making the Rules Committee the final arbiter of any disputes - normally the Rules Committee is tasked with interpreting the rules, but the Executive Committee is the final arbiter. The proposed rules are clear enough that it shouldn't come up in practice, but I would prefer to see this amended to remove that clause.

Motion # 2018-ABM-B-02

Title: Motion to amend By-Laws Article III , Section 2B

Text: Motion to amend the LPF Bylaws Article III, Section 2B, adding new language.

Disposition: Aye - Support

Review: This motion clarifies a currently unspecified situation - when does an EC member appointed to fill a vacancy take office and become eligible to vote on business? There are two options for solving it - either allowing an appointed member to be seated immediately upon the motion to appoint passing, or to seat them at the end of the meeting to apply to all future meetings. The choice is somewhat arbitrary so I would have supported either outcome, but choosing to seat at the end of the meeting (as this motion specifies) does make for slightly more predictability as to who can and can't vote in a meeting.