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ExtremeMakeover MONA Bylaws edition!

There has been some exciting work going on in the Committee on Bylaws. Now, before you think that "bylaws" and "exciting" do not belong in the same sentence or that they are contradictory, let's explain. Bylaws provide the structure and governance of an organization and should be a dynamic document that reflects actual practice. The document provides authority for carrying out the business and functions of the organization but doesn't need to give specific details as to how. Bylaws represent your membership rights. Every two years, or in odd years, MONA has a biennial meeting of the General Assembly usually along with a convention. As the Committee on Bylaws prepares for this meeting, suggestions for bylaws changes are requested from members, committees, staff and the Board of Directors. At their March meeting, the Board of Directors gave some very spirited and strong feedback that centered on the bylaws being "too long," "confusing," and "difficult to find what you needed to know."

Based on the Board's feedback, the bylaws were given a good "read," not only for content, but for logical consistency, understandability, reflection of actual practice, language, procedure and redundancy. Also, they were compared with the ANA Bylaws, which have been streamlined and updated. The Committee found them to be disorganized, redundant, and generally lacking in some of the areas mentioned above. For example, the MONA bylaws have twenty-five (25) Articles with Subsections and the ANA bylaws have only twelve (12). Let us tell you why.

Though not as old as ANA, MONA filed its Articles of Incorporation, Constitution and Bylaws with the State of Missouri in 1907. Many amendments have been made over this years and the document has continued to grow. We might add the amendments or changes made to the document have not always been noted on the preface, but have been incorporated into the text. Some amendments have been listed in the final Article "Amendments," but not all. As new issues have come along, Articles were added and, additionally, the new content was often incorporated into old Articles. Some of us have been on the Committee for a long time, and we worked under the idea that we really had to make changes consistent with ANA bylaws. You can often find identical language in the two documents even with the ANA updates. Since the 2008 House of Delegates, ANA has given Constituent Member Assemblies (CMAs-MONA is a CMA) more latitude in developing their bylaws in that they only need to be "in harmony" with ANA's bylaws. If you remember, last biennium MONA changed its structural units from districts to regions in the bylaws. Changing that language was a major undertaking And no work was done to update the structure or other content of the bylaws at that time.

As the Committee prepared for the 2011 meeting of the General Assembly we have undertaken a major overhaul of the MON A bylaws. The bylaws will not be amended this year but revised; this is suggested when bylaws become difficult to use and cumbersome. In effect, a revision is a new set of bylaws. First, the Articles have been reorganized to logically progress from the purpose of MONA, the relationship between MONA and ANA, membership and affiliations, regions, General Assembly and Board of Directors. This mirrors the organization of the ANA bylaws. To give you an example, if you wanted to know what the quorum for a Board of Directors meeting was you did not find it in the meeting section of the Article on Board of Directors; it was in an Article on Quorum. Now all information about various structures of the organization is included in the Article on that particular structural unit. Redundancy has been removed for the most part and there are only two or three instances where something is said twice. Also, the cross-referencing that has been part of additions/amendments/changes over time has been eliminated. When changes were made to the bylaws cross-references needed to be changed; sometimes this was not done accurately, it was time consuming to do, and resulting errors that were missed made the document confusing.

These above items noted are only a few of the improvements found in the revision document. There are changes in the content such as the removal of the E&GW and Workplace Advocacy programs as we will no longer have these formal programs. However, as part of its functions MONA will continue to do workplace advocacy. When the revised Bylaws document is posted on the web site, you will be notified. If you want a printed copy, you can request one be sent to you. Any changes thought to be of interest or up for discussion will be highlighted on the website. The Committee encourages you to read the entire document and email questions you may have; additionally, we hope you will be at Convention in October to attend the forum on Bylaws and to vote on adoption of the revision. The Committee will be putting the revision forward for vote in total. If the revision does not pass in the General Assembly, the bylaws document as amended in 2009 will be retained. We look forward to hearing from you and your participation in this process as we move toward the meeting of the General Assembly in October! It is a pleasure to serve the General Assembly.

Corinne Fessenden, PhD, RN Bylaws Committee Chair
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Title Annotation:Missouri Nurses Association
Author:Fessenden, Corinne
Publication:Missouri Nurse
Geographic Code:1U4MO
Date:Aug 1, 2011
Words:901
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