Every three years, Rotarians meet at the Council on Legislation to review and vote on proposed legislation. The Council gives us a voice in how our organization is governed.


The 2016 Council on Legislation met in Chicago 10-15 April. With the Council adjourned, an official report of action will be compiled, sent to clubs, and posted online within two months. Clubs have an opportunity to record opposition to any action during the following two months. If at least 5 percent of the votes entitled to be cast by the clubs oppose an action, the legislation is suspended and the general secretary conducts a ballot-by-mail. A majority vote would cause the proposal to be rejected. All Council actions otherwise go into effect 1 July.

Review of 2016 COL
          2016 COL was held April 10-15, 2016 in Chicago.  Of the 534 districts, 523 representatives were certified.  There were 117 proposed enactments and 63 proposed resolutions.  Enactments change constitutional documents (RI Constitution, RI bylaws, standard club Constitution).  Resolutions request the  RI Board of Directors or RI Foundation Trustees look into a matter.
Important Enactments
  1.      (16-21) Flexibility in Meetings/Attendance
          Current club constitution Article 6 provides clubs meet once a week.  Article 9 regarding attendance provides members must attend unless they make up fourteen days before or after, attend a service project or a board meeting.  Article 9 provides for termination if member doesn’t attend or make up fifty percent of meetings or attend thirty percent of meetings at their own club or misses four consecutive meetings.
          The above requirements will remain in the standard club constitution and can be followed by clubs if desired.  The new enactment provides that club bylaws may alter these provisions.  For example, to determine when and how often a club meets, except it must meet two times per month (there is no definition of “meeting”); the club may set attendance requirements; and the club may modify or eliminate termination policies for non-attendance.
  1.      (16-36)  Kinds of Membership
          The standard club constitution Article 7 Section 2 provides for two kinds of membership:  active and honorary.  That will remain in the standard club constitution and can be followed by clubs.  Alternatively, this enactment provides that club bylaws may have provisions not in accord with Article 7 Section 2.  That is, clubs may have alternative memberships such as corporate, associate, family, etc.
  1.      (16-38)   Revise Qualifications for Membership in a Club
          Current RI constitution requires “Adult person of good character and good business, professional and/or community reputation”.  In addition, it requires the member have position as proprietor, partner, etc. of business or profession; be retired from such position; or be a community leader. 
          The new enactment eliminates these business and professional criteria and provides only that a club be composed of “Adult persons who demonstrate good character, integrity, and leadership; possess good reputation within their business, profession and/or community; and are willing to serve in their community and/or around the world”.
  1.      (16-99) Dues Increase
          RI dues currently are $55 per year.  In 2016-17 it goes to $56; in 2017-18 to $60; in 2018-19 to $64; and in 2019-20 to $68.
          RI revenue is approximately $103 million per year, 67% of which are dues.  Investment returns are down.  At current dues level, the forecast is for deficits to increase by $2 million per year for the next four years.  The RI bylaws require a reserve of $71 million.  Forecast is for it to fall below that in four years without a dues increase.
          RI cuts costs by outsourcing printing and mailing; outsourcing process and development to India; changing to digital publications; and combining DG visits.
  1.      (16-07)  Admission Fees         
          The standard club constitution calls for every new member to pay an admission fee and dues as prescribed in club bylaws.  This enactment deletes the requirement of an admission fee.   (Question:  Can club bylaws still require admission fees?)
  1.      (16-01)  Requires written minutes of club Board of Director meetings
  1. (16-02)  Club Treasurer is added as an officer and board member in addition to IPP, P, PE, and Secretary.
  1.      (16-35)  Excused Absences
          In addition to “Rule of 85”, attendance can be excused by the club board if the Rotarian has been a member of the same club for twenty years.
  1.      (16-05)  Club Committees
          The standing club committees are: club administration, membership, public relations, foundation, and service projects.  Some clubs still structure club administration around the avenues of service.
  1.      (16-40)  Rotaractors can simultaneously be Rotarians.
  1. (16-51)  Transferring or former Rotarians are ineligible for membership in a club if they have debts to another club.
  1. (16-74)  A district may select a Vice Governor.  If selected, the DGE proposes the VG and selection is made by nominating committee.
  1. (16-81)  The RI board can suspend a club for litigating issues before exhausting administrative remedies provided in bylaws.  The board can also deal with districts which have repeated election complaints
  1. (16-82)  E-Clubs 
          This enactment removes the distinction between regular clubs and e-clubs.  Regular clubs can have digital meetings and e-clubs can have in-person meetings.
  1. (16-83)  Amends RI bylaws to require twenty members to charter a new club.  Currently this is set out only in the Code of Policies.
  1. (16-113)  Provides for a Council on Resolutions to consider and vote online on proposed resolutions before the in-person COL.
Proposed Resolutions
  1. Asks Board to confirm that eradication of polio is the highest goal.  No other corporate project will be adopted until certification of eradication.  A resolution promoting malaria as corporate project was rejected.
  1.     Request the Board promote the use of Rotary credit cards.
  1. Request Trustees of TRF to consider reinstating Ambassador Scholarships.
  1.     Request Board hire a consulting firm to review RI administrative structure.
Proposed enactments that were rejected
  1.     Missed meetings can be made up any time during the year.
  1.     Add a geographical name to the district number.
  1. A DGN must have served nine years as Rotarian.  The requirement now is seven years.
  1.     Eliminate the position of Vice Governor.
  1. Support reduction of greenhouse gases.  This was postponed indefinitely, apparently because it was considered too political.
  1. Reinstate the rule that a club pays for a minimum of ten members.
1.       RIVP Greg Podd gave a five year financial forecast that was bleak.  Consequently, the Board proposed a per capita dues increase of $1 for 2016-17 and $4 per year for the following three years.  This was approved.
2.       The Board proposed several enactments, two of which dramatically change the rules for clubs to give more flexibility in meeting frequency and
nature of meetings (16-21); and flexibility to create different kinds of membership (16-36).
         While these changes are far-reaching and significant, to some extent they legitimize what some clubs have already been doing.
3.       While the COL continued the requirement that a printed copy of the Rotarian magazine be mailed to every Rotarian, other enactments show Rotary is becoming more digitized.  For example, a member can “attend” a club meeting through an online participation; RI will mail one, not ten, copies of proposed legislation to each DG.
4.       Currently the COL considers both proposed enactments and proposed resolutions, which request the Foundation Trustees look into a matter.  The 2016 COL created a new Council on Resolutions which will review proposed resolutions and vote on them annually online before the actual COL in Chicago.  This will save time at COL.  In 2016, sixty-three resolutions were proposed.
  1. Quite a number of enactments were proposed by Indian clubs and districts to deal with conflict, power struggles, election contests, and financial irregularity.