"Program" includes LWVMD positions, development of new LWVMD positions through consensus or concurrence, and action (advocacy) based on those positions. The LWVMD Program Chair is responsible for coordinating the program development process and consensus or concurrence process, and revision of Study and Action: A Leader's Guide to State Program.
I. Consensus - "Consensus" is agreement statewide among a substantial number of participating members, based upon the sense of meeting discussions, or other venues for expressing opinions. Consensus is based upon material developed to educate members enough to come to, or not to come, to consensus and geared toward action as its final goal. Consensus is not just a simple majority nor necessarily unanimous and is not a vote. Minority opinions must also be taken into account.
II. Concurrence - "Concurrence" is agreement statewide among a substantial number of members with an existing position of a LL or Leagues. It may also mean agreement with positions developed by a resource committee appointed by the Board, or with positions of Leagues outside of Maryland. LLs may either accept or reject in total the positions proposed for concurrence: the wording cannot be changed.
III. Criteria for consensus or concurrence - Consensus and concurrence are valid only when two-thirds of the LLs take part in the process.
IV. Program Development.
A. The Program Chair requests that LLs and Affiliates review existing state positions, propose changes, and submit proposals for topics they believe require new or extensively updated LWVMD positions. This should be done four months before State Convention. LLs and Affiliates also propose a new study either with consensus or concurrence as the appropriate method of developing new state positions. Local leagues and Affiliates are encouraged to solicit support for a proposal from other LLs and Affiliates. When determining whether to submit a proposal, LL/Affiliates should consider the following criteria:
1. Does the League (LWVMD or LWVUS) already have a position on the issue?
2. Is government action needed or possible?
3. Is the state the appropriate level to address the issue?
4. Is the issue timely?
5. Will LWVMD involvement make an impact?
6. Is their member interest? Will it attract new members? Do we have the people power needed to conduct the study?
7. Does the title specify the focus of the study?
8. Does it support the LWVUS Roadmap? (https://www.lwv.org/sites/default/files/2018-06/transformation_roadmap_exec_summary_april_2018.pdf)
B. The Board reviews the LL proposals and presents its recommendations to the LLs and MALs and MAL units at least one month before Convention. Among other things, the Board will consider whether (a) there are any existing position(s) by LWVMD or LWVUS that can be used for advocacy or external communications; (b) there are members willing to participate on a study committee from multiple LLs, MALs and MAL units across the state; (c) there is a proposal sponsor available to speak on the proposal at Convention prior to a vote for adoption.
C. Convention delegates consider the Board's recommendations and may adopt them by a majority vote. Delegates may also, by a majority vote, grant consideration to proposals that the Board did not recommend; they may adopt such proposals by a three-fifths vote. If more than two studies are adopted, members may be asked to rank the adopted studies in order of importance to facilitate implementation.
D. After 3 notices in the State Board Letter and 2 emails to LL/MAL/Affiliate presidents, the Board may choose to suspend a study if no Chair or an insufficient number of members representing multiple LLs and MALs have been identified. Such action will be reported at the next State Convention or Council, whichever occurs first.
E. Existing positions, ratified by the Convention, become the basis for Action; the consensus or concurrence process begins for topics adopted by the Convention that require new state positions.
V. The Consensus and Concurrence Process
A. The Board appoints a committee chair to manage the study in coordination with the LWVMD Program Chair. The committee chair assembles a committee whose members are representatives of LLs, and sets time frames for the committee's work, including deadlines for LLs to submit Consensus or Concurrence Reports to the state Program Chair.
B. The LWVMD Board gives LLs and Affiliates notice of the consensus or concurrence deadline just after its calendar meeting that is generally held each summer. The LLs and Affiliates can then include these deadlines in their LL calendars.
C. The committee researches the topic, generates objective Fact Sheets and background data, develops Consensus Questions or Concurrence Statements that link back to the Fact Sheets and a standard, uniform Report Form that includes minority opinions, reasons for majority and minority opinions and qualifications. These materials are sent to LLs who make the Fact Sheets available to their members, generally through LL newsletters. LL members may then meet to discuss the Consensus Questions or Concurrence Statements, or other means may be used (e.g., mail, email, telephone polling, email) with approval of the Board. LLs and Affiliates complete the Reporting form (one consolidated form for LLs that have more than one meeting group) and forward it to the LWVMD Program Chair by the deadline stated.
D. The LWVMD Program Chair convenes a committee to determine consensus and concurrence results. The committee includes the Program Chair, one additional Board member, the study committee chair (on or off-Board) and three members representing LLs of various sizes and geographic locations. They will:
1. Analyze the Report Forms from each LL;
2. Report the results to the Board;
3. Propose for the Board's approval the positions on which consensus were achieved. (Positions for concurrence were approved at the time materials were released to the LLs.)
E. After LWVMD Board approval, the positions are released to members and the general public (where appropriate), and Action may be taken based on them. The new positions are ratified at the next LWVMD Convention, or occasionally at State Council (in a time-sensitive situation).
F. Revisions to Study and Action - The LWVMD Program and Action Chairs collaborate after the biennial state Convention to update Study and Action. The revision should, whenever possible, be completed by early fall of the Convention year.
Revised December 2021