Maryland NOW Bylaws Changes – Summary



2024 Proposed Changes/Revisions to the Maryland NOW Bylaws


The Maryland NOW bylaws have not been substantially revised since they were written in 1973. We’ve used the “band-aid” approach for many decades, going in from time to time and changing things that seemed to not be working, but knowing all along that serious work needed to be done on the whole document.

All that said, the women who wrote these bylaws initially created a very sound structure which didn’t need much serious revision. For many of the changes, we have just added language to address changes that have taken place in our culture today. We also had to address changes that have taken place in National NOW’s structure. Communication among council members and state leaders outside of state council meetings 50 years ago mostly involved postage stamps. Our electronic image in our website, electronic newsletters, and actions announced in email alerts are all very critical today and not something that anyone even envisioned in the 1970s.

The state council has held discussion sessions, incorporating many suggestions and ideas into the document you will see and vote on in June.

Below is a summary of the changes we are proposing. However, the document presenting both deletions and additions now involves eight pages. We decided to send everyone this summary, and to post the entire bylaws document on our website. We also want to offer to anyone who would like review a paper copy of the document to call or email us and we will get it to you right away. We are additional prepared to answer any questions you might have in a personal phone call or Zoom meeting.

We will vote on the document at the state’s annual conference on June 1 during our morning business session; this particular agenda item and discussion will be chaired by a parliamentarian.

Article I. Name. This clarifies that we are not incorporated.

Article II & Article IV. Purpose and Diversity. These two sections have been updated with language written by state council members.

Article III. Membership. Maryland NOW allows full participation in our decision-making for any member whose dues have been received by Maryland NOW, and/or paid to National NOW, regardless of whether their names have been added to the National NOW database.

Article V. Structure. This clarifies Maryland NOW’s decision-making structure.

Article VI. Meetings. The meetings section was added about 3 years ago at the request of the organization that oversees Robert’s Rules compliance. It specifically authorizes virtual meetings and says that decisions reached at virtual meetings are equally as valid as those reached at in-person meetings.

Article VII. State Conference. Secs A, B, and F remove language no longer relevant as per changes in the National NOW Bylaws regarding delegates to national conferences. Sec C moves the financial review language to the Treasurer’s responsibilities section. (see Article IX. Officers>Sec. F. Treasurer>No. 5). Sec F is a sound business practice for membership organizations, but also complies with the provision that the State Council votes to approve any fiduciary action or changes to our budget in Article VIII.

Article VIII. State Council. Sec A clarifies the role of the state council and its relationship to decisions that might be reached by the State Conference in any implementation measures. Sec B clarifies that “member chapters” can include a convening chapter that may participate (vote) at State Council meetings once they have completed their convenor form, and that form has been approved by the National office. This signifies that they are starting to work toward completing requirements of the National office and Maryland NOW (that they have bylaws, an EIN number, bank account, etc.).

Sec D includes language about meetings (virtual meetings counting toward the required number which are to be held), No. 2 defines access to meetings by all members, but gives the Executive Committee the ability to go into Executive Session, meaning only council members can be present during that discussion. An example of this action would be during budget discussions or financial reports to the State Council. No. 6 repeats the requirement for virtual meetings and removes some confusing language about council voting, which is again written in No.7. Electronic communication has essentially eliminated that need, and provides resolution of this question.

Article IX. State Officer Responsibilities. These changes in the sections in this Article represent these positions as they have evolved over time and are carried out today. They include the need for us to maintain a public image, including in coordinating our electronic communication and social media. We have attempted to gather all the Treasurer’s responsibilities into that officer’s section, and Sec G gives the Executive Committee the flexibility to reassign various responsibilities based on individual ability to perform them. Language was added to the Action VP position that clarifies this position’s work with the Legislative Committee/Task Force to tie action to legislative (and therefore issue) work. The Secretary-Records and Communication has responsibility for maintaining the state’s membership and membership records, and keeping electronic records of our meetings. (This position was upgraded several years ago.) We removed the option of having co-presidents, which was tried but was not successful.

Article X. Executive Committee. This acknowledges that task force and committee chairs may be included in Executive Committee sessions when needed. It clarifies communication between the Executive Committee and the State Council as “reporting decisions and discussion” and that records of meeting will be kept.

Article XI. Task Forces and Committees. Sec E language was added to clarify that, once established with leadership by the State President and approved by the State Council, the task force or committee itself can decide to disband or may become inactive (they are not removed when new officers are elected at the state conference).  The state council can remove a Task Force or Committee chair for cause.

Article XIII. Finances. This article defines the Budget Committee and creates a timeline for the passage of Maryland NOW’s Budget. In budget matters and in work to increase income, this committee works with the Treasurer. Sec D adds some responsibilities for involvement in our fundraising and for the Finance Committee to be involved in financial management and fundraising,

Article XIV. Grievance Committee. Old language of choosing by lot among people who claimed to be “disinterested parties” didn’t always result in a fair arbitration of a disagreement. Proposed language in Sec B is a version of how many grievance committees function, giving parties to a grievance an actual representative on the committee. Also, language was added to clarify publicizing decisions of the Grievance Committee following their work.

Article XV. Amendment of the Bylaws. Sec A  existing language was confusing, and has been changed to two options for amendment: the Bylaws Committee and chapters.  Sec B changes that regardless of origin bylaw amendments have to be turned into the Executive Committee and the Bylaws Committee for review 60 days prior to the state conference. This was changed from 45 days because of the time and work involved in creating the state conference mailing and including a proposed change, printing and mailing.