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This is the section of Eye on Regulation where we would normally comment on a recent case in Alberta or beyond. However, for this edition, a real world issue has proven too interesting to pass up. It relates to the concept of quorum. Quorum is the minimum number of members of a decision making body which much be present before a decision can be validly made. A regulatory body’s council is an example of a decision making body which will have a quorum.
You may be aware that an interesting power struggle has been playing out in Texas. Early in July a group of 51 Texas Democrats left Austin on chartered flights bound for Washington, D.C. A few more left by separate means. Without these representatives in the Legislature, there was insufficient quorum to conduct state business. The upshot was that Texas Republicans were delayed in efforts to pass legislation which the Democrats viewed as suppressing voting rights. As such, while they were outnumbered by their Republican counterparts, the Democrats found a procedural way to prevent a valid decision from being made.
What relevance does this story have for regulators? Procedure is sometimes thought of as less important than the substantive aspects of a regulating body but a failure in proper procedure can undermine those substantive aspects and deserve due attention.
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Ensuring staff throughout your organization know the protected titles The old adage “failing to prepare is preparing to fail” rings true when looking to reach quorum at a meeting. Set a meeting schedule a year or more in advance or in accordance with a formula (i.e. every second Tuesday of the month). In this way you will remove barriers to quorum such as conflicts in schedules.
What processes does your regulatory body have in place to ensure you reach quorum at all decision making meetings?
Eye on Regulation is RMRF’s monthly newsletter for the professional regulatory community. Each month we offer:
- A Case: a (very) brief summary of a recent and relevant case;
- Our Two Cents for Free: practical insight inspired by the files on our desks right now; and
- A Question: something to get you thinking about ways to enhance your work.
This newsletter is for information only and does not constitute legal advice.