We are often asked why we have a position on one issue or piece of legislation and yet not on another. The reason is that we do not take positions on issues, or legislation unless we have studied the issues and have come to a consensus about them. These studies can be on the national, state, or local levels. If we have a position on a national level, it can be used to support or oppose legislation on any level, if appropriate. However, if it is a position on the state level, it can only be used for issues on state and local legislation within that state. And, of course, if it is on a local level, it can only be used to support or oppose legislation on that level.
1. Study Committee members fashion consensus questions that are then asked of the membership as part of a study kit. Kits often include articles, books, data in the form of charts and graphs, videos, suggested speakers, discussion questions, and other resources. Members use the study kit internally and often with their community to better understand the issue.
2. Consensus is the overall decision-making process by which substantial agreement among members is reached on an issue. Often this happens over the course of several meetings but may include surveys and other methods. If the members reach a consensus, the board forms recommended positions based on that consensus. Those recommendations are submitted to the Study Committee.
3. The Study Committee then reviews all the submissions. It works to form a consensus statement – the statement resulting from the consensus questions – that becomes a recommended position.
4. That recommended position is then reviewed and voted on by our members (usually by delegates at our Convention). The proposal may be approved, amended, or rejected at that time.
5. If a position is adopted, firm action can then be taken on the particular issue addressed by the position. Without a position, action cannot be taken on that issue.