On November 2, 2017 the proposed revisions to the DSA-LA Bylaws were ratified by 91% of 168 voters.* This bylaws revision and expansion was led by the interim Steering Committee—a short-term leadership body elected to develop and implement a set of governing standards aligned with the realities of the growing DSA-LA local.
The process for Bylaws revisions began in July 2017, when the interim Steering Committee ensured opportunities for committees and members to begin to pilot proposed updates. Before calling for a vote on the proposed revisions, the interim Steering Committee released a full draft of the revised Bylaws for a 2-week public comment period on October 1st. DSA-LA members were asked to review the draft and bring feedback to a chapter meeting on October 14th, where the draft document was presented to multiple small groups for responses. Member feedback was prioritized for inclusion if it was raised by multiple members, addressed major omissions, or identified areas unaligned with DSA-LA’s ratified Mission Statement and Organizational Priorities. Members voted to approve a final revision which incorporated this feedback on November 2nd.
Although the Bylaws revision process was responsive to member feedback, the interim Steering Committee acknowledges the importance of having an opportunity for members to propose, advocate for, and vote on amendments to these Bylaws. To that end, Article IV, Section 1 of the Bylaws outlines a requirement that the Steering Committee hold a Local Annual Convention. The Annual Convention is established as the highest legislative body of the local and will feature in-person debate and votes on future revisions to the DSA-LA Bylaws and the Mission Statement and Organizational Priorities.
The Annual Convention is currently projected for the first quarter of 2018. In advance of the Annual Convention, members will have the ability to organize and propose specific amendments directly to the Bylaws. As outlined in Article XIV, proposed amendments to Bylaws must be made by written resolution, endorsed by 25 Local members, and submitted to the Steering Committee at least two (2) months in advance of the Annual Convention.
In an effort to inform and support DSA-LA members’ ability to organize and propose amendments to the current Bylaws in advance of the Annual Convention, the interim Steering Committee has summarized feedback shared during the Bylaws revisions process that was not prioritized for inclusion. The interim Steering Committee does not take a position on any of the following items, but shares them in the interest of transparency and with the intent to enable members to identify key areas they might wish to collectively address in the form of proposed amendments.
Discussion and considerations aligned with Local resources extended caucuses.
Greater detail on Committee overseen by Communications Director and relationship to Local Subgroups.
Dissolution of Local Subgroups
Considerations were shared around a desire for greater detail for standardized steps to support committees before dissolution, as well as threshold of subgroup members required for dissolution.
Requests for greater detail on the following aspects: clarity around Treasurer’s oversight and responsibility for coordinating fundraising vs. financial decisions, oversight mechanisms in addition to the annual report, appropriate financial institution for Local funds, and clarification on how Local Subgroups request ongoing funds versus one-time funds.
Leadership & Elections
At the Local-level, considerations were shared around term limits and greater specificity in roles for Local Officers, along with a specified method of voting on candidates (first past the post, ranked order, etc.) At the subgroup level, considerations were shared around a required Recording Secretary position, synchronized elections for committees, and a lower quorum required for Local Subgroup elections.
Requests were shared for greater detail about the Local Convention generally, and specifically around: potential role of delegates or remote voting at the Convention, distinction between resolutions and amendments considered at Convention, and process for resolving contradictory amendments. The 25-member threshold for submitting an amendment for consideration ahead of the Convention was highlighted as a potential area for amendment.
Considerations around whether or not 25 members is the appropriate threshold for proposals developed outside of Local Subgroups or the Steering Committee, as well as requests for clarity on what constitutes a proposal.
Areas of discussion and consideration included clarity about rights and responsibilities of non-dues-payers, guidelines on what constitutes a member of a committee, and members’ relationship to democratic centralist organizations.
Recall of Local Officers
Consideration around whether or not 80% of the total number of votes cast during the previous election is the appropriate threshold to trigger a recall vote.
Relationship to National
Considerations around explicit language which articulates a clear link to National priorities, potentially in the Preamble.
* Per Article VI. Section 2 of the DSA-LA Bylaws, chapter-wide votes outside of the Annual Convention require a quorum of 10% of membership. As Local membership at the time of the vote was 1,188, 168 met the threshold for a quorum.