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    Wisconsin Lawyer
    August 10, 2010

    Bylaw Amendment

    The Board of Governors revised State Bar Bylaw Article IV regarding the Legislative Oversight Committee. 

    Wisconsin LawyerWisconsin Lawyer
    Vol. 83, No. 8, August 2010

    Note: A petition for review of any change in the bylaws will be entertained by the court if signed by 25 or more active State Bar members and filed with the clerk of the court within 60 days after publication of notice of change. Hearings upon such a petition will be pursuant to notice in such manner as the court directs.

    I, George C. Brown, the Executive Director of the State Bar of Wisconsin, do hereby certify that the following bylaw amendments were duly voted on by the Board of Governors on May 4-5, 2010, and were approved by a unanimous voice vote.

    Certificate of Bylaw Amendment 

    The State Bar Bylaws Article IV, shall be amended as follows:

    Article IV Standing Committees

    Section 7. Legislative Oversight Committee

    (a) Composition. The Legislative Oversight shall be a standing committee composed of nine voting members, selected as follows: The President shall appoint four committee members, including the committee chair, each year; and the Section Leaders Council shall elect one member. Members shall serve for two-year terms. The first year that this Section becomes effective, the current president shall appoint eight members: four to two year terms and four to one year terms. The Executive Director and the State Bar Director of Public Affairs shall serve as ex-officio/nonvoting members. A vacancy shall be filled by the person or body responsible for originally appointing or electing the member whose departure from the committee has created the vacancy. Members of the Legislative Oversight Committee shall represent the State Bar as a whole and do not represent any individual section, division, or constituency. The committee shall recommend action(s) consistent with the overall best interest of the State Bar.

    (b) Functions.

    (1) General. The Legislative Oversight Committee shall review and monitor all public policy positions, as defined in subsection (c), taken or proposed to be taken by the State Bar or its sections and shall assist the State Bar government relations staff in planning, setting priorities, and allocating resources. The Legislative Oversight Committee also shall make recommendations and report to the Executive Committee and/or to the Board regarding State Bar and section public policy positions. The Legislative Oversight Committee shall also resolve all conflicts between sections seeking to take public policy positions pursuant to the procedures set forth in subsection (b)(4) and is the final arbiter of such disputes. The Legislative Oversight Committee shall be subject to the information requests and reporting requirements set forth in Article IV, Section 1(a).

    (2) State Bar Positions. The Legislative Oversight Committee shall generally monitor State Bar government relations staff for compliance with Supreme Court Rules and compliance with the Keller rules on permissible lobbying activity by mandatory bar associations.

    (3) Section Positions. The Legislative Oversight Committee shall monitor public policy positions adopted by the sections, the setting of section lobbying fees, and the costs of each section’s annual legislative activity. The committee may order a section to cease using State Bar resources or to delay publicly releasing or expressing a public policy position until reasonable notice and/or an opportunity to act is given to the Board of Governors and/or the Executive Committee if: (a) a section position is contrary to, or in conflict with, a State Bar position; (b) a section position is contrary to, or in conflict with, another section’s position, or opposed by another section; (c) the proposed communication does not sufficiently and clearly communicate that the position is that of a group of lawyers within the Bar and is not the position of the State Bar; (d) the section has not complied with subsection (c)(3).

    (4) Conflict Resolution. Whenever a conflict between two or more sections arises with regard to a public policy position, the following procedure will apply.

    (i) The Chair shall first request the sections to meet informally to discuss the issues and try to work out an amicable resolution;

    (ii) If informal discussions under (i) are unsuccessful, the Chair in his or her judgment may appoint a mediator to help the sections reach a solution;

    (iii) If mediation is unsuccessful, or if in the Chair’s judgment the conflict is intractable such that mediation would not be worthwhile, the Chair shall appoint a subcommittee of three members of the Committee, including a subcommittee chair, to review materials and hold a hearing on the matter. The subcommittee shall set deadlines for the submittal of materials from each section based upon the time frames involved in the issue and then shall hold a hearing, unless time does not permit for a hearing. Minutes shall be kept of any hearing. The subcommittee shall then issue a written decision governing which section, if any, may take the requested public policy position or such other guidelines and procedures for the sections to take positions on the issue in question.

    (iv) The non-prevailing section in (iii) above may appeal the subcommittee’s decision to the full Committee. The full Committee shall not review the matter de novo, but rather will review the materials previously submitted, the minutes from any hearing, and the decision of the subcommittee. The full Committee shall then vote on whether the subcommittee fairly applied State Bar Rules, By-laws, and procedures in reaching its decision. The decision of the full Committee is final and non-appealable.

    (v) The Chair and/or the Committee may from time to time create further policies and procedures for conflict resolution that are not in conflict with, and do not supersede, above subsections (i) – (iv), for the more efficient resolution of conflicts. Notice of such policies and procedures shall be given to all sections and the Board of Governors in a timely fashion.

    (5) Meetings; voting. The Legislative Oversight Committee shall meet at the call of the chair or at the call of the President. Meetings may be held on reasonable notice. Action on any matter requires approval by the affirmative vote of a majority of the committee’s members. When necessary, late voting by members unable to attend or participate in the meeting will be counted.

    (c) Public Policy Positions

    (1) Definition. Public policy positions are statements, comments, and/or expressions of opinion concerning changes or proposed changes to, proposed or existing, laws, rules, or actions of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government and other positions of public advocacy.

    (2) Public Policy Positions of the State Bar. Public policy positions of the State Bar as a whole shall be governed by procedures as adopted by the Board of Governors, including the 60 percent requirement set forth in Article III, Section 9(b). The vote on whether to approve the taking of a public policy position shall be by roll call. Divisions and committees may not take public policy positions on behalf of themselves or the State Bar except as authorized by the Board of Governors.

    (3) Public Policy Positions of Sections.

    (i) Criteria. No section or State Bar member on behalf of a section may express a position on a matter involving an issue of public policy unless the following conditions are met: (a) the matter is one on which the section’s views would have particular relevance; (b) the position is adopted in accordance with section bylaws; (c) the position is expressly stated to be taken only on behalf of the section; (d) the section public policy position is adopted in accordance with procedures for public policy positions adopted by the Board of Governors; (e) the position is not contrary to an expressed State Bar position; (f) the section sends a summary of the public policy to the Legislative Oversight Committee; and (g) no section shall undertake any act which constitutes lobbying without the knowledge and consent of the State Bar’s Director of Public Affairs or a designate. Review of section public policy positions shall be conducted pursuant to subsection (b)(3).

    (ii) Bylaws. No section shall lobby unless its bylaws meet the requirements as set forth by the Board of Governors.  

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