August 8, 2019. Our program featured Past District Governor Doug Cook who recently served as our District's representative to the Council on Legislation (COL). The requirement that representatives be Past Governors coupled with the fact that the COL only meets every third year means that very few Rotarians get the opportunity to experience the process.
Rotary is an extremely large organization comprised of 1.2 million people representing almost 36,000 Clubs spread over about 200 countries. The question becomes, how do you arrive at one set of rules for such a diverse organization? At first glance, Rotary appears to be a typical organization with a President at the top, followed by 17 International Directors, and then local leadership at the District level.
When it comes to establishing or changing the rules, however, Rotary is run from the bottom up. Potential rule changes are submitted by Club-level Rotarians to their local District. If the District approves of the idea, it is submitted to the Council on Legislation which meets every third year. All 538 Districts send a representative to Chicago to serve on the COL. The representatives must pore over hundreds of proposed changes. They then spend the better part of four days listening to debates over the proposals and voting to accept or reject the ideas. These are the decisions that change the future of Rotary.
The major change at this year's Council was to approve Rotary International registering with the IRS as a 501 ©3 Non-Profit. This will allow the organization to save hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. Another change empowers the nominating committee to choose both a President and an alternate to serve the one-year term as RI President. This became necessary as two recent nominees were unable to fill the position. The COL representatives also consider items known as resolutions. These are considered annually. Resolutions that are approved are sent to the RI Board of Directors who are asked to consider the issue.