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Branch Constitution and Bylaws: Your Local Branch Blueprint
By John Farrell
Your local constitution and bylaws are the DNA of your branch.
These documents are an informational blueprint of the branch structure and its functions for members and a source of authority and a catalyst of action for branch officers. The constitution and bylaws are the accumulated wisdom and vision, will and intent, history and evolution of all the past and present members of your branch.
The documents should be available to all members. Also, they should be available at all branch meetings and consulted frequently by officers to ensure compliance with all required actions and procedures.
Amendments should be well considered, carefully worded and voted up or down with prior notice to all branch members, as well as strict attention to due process. Amendments to these fundamental documents never should be taken lightly, but necessary modifications should not be delayed or overlooked.
Your state executive board may include an appointed officer or standing committee that acts as the care-taker for the state constitution and bylaws, reviews local branch constitutions and bylaws and assists local branches with making desired changes. For example, if membership declines, a branch could consider an amendment to reduce the quorum required for branch meetings.
Branch constitutions and bylaws should be held by several, if not all, branch officers—certainly by the president—and passed on to their successors at or before installation. Keeping copies in a safety deposit box or with a standing constitution and bylaws committee or both also are good ideas. As branch members, we should have a copy of the constitution and bylaws, be aware of its contents and speak up if we observe violations.
Active, attentive adherence to your local constitution and bylaws is essential to a strong, transparent and inclusive branch.