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Grand Forks County Commission takes care of housekeeping

Robert’s Rules of Order is a manual of parliamentary procedure used by most bodies with boards of directors. It has gone through many iterations of its rules, including brief versions of the manual in 2005 and 2011, with the newest versions having around 700 pages.

The Grand Forks County Office Building. Photo by Nick Nelson for the Grand Forks Herald.
The Grand Forks County Office Building. Photo by Nick Nelson for the Grand Forks Herald.

The Grand Forks County Commission voted Tuesday evening, Jan. 4, to re-adopt Robert’s Rules of Order, as well as designating Haley Womstad as parliamentarian.

Tom Ford, director of administration for Grand Forks County, said the process of re-adopting the rules is routine.

“It’s a formality,” Ford said. “Every year, at the first meeting of a calendar year, things reset. They elected a new chair, they elected a new vice chair, they re-assigned portfolio assignments, and they do some housekeeping, such as ‘Do we want to continue with Robert’s Rule of Order or not?’ It’s kind of like a reset every calendar year, so it’s just business as usual to take care of at the first meeting.”

Robert’s Rules of Order, named after its author Henry Martyn Robert, is a manual of parliamentary procedure used by most bodies with boards of directors. It has gone through many iterations of its rules, including brief versions of the manual in 2005 and 2011, with the newest versions having around 700 pages.

The purpose of the rules is to set a certain way of carrying out meetings, mostly verbal. It represents a code of manners dictating the way items are approved, debated and more.

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Although the full set of rules is intensive, having an established and agreed-upon set of rules for meetings usually makes for a more streamlined meeting process for bodies. Speakers may "motion" in order to introduce a new action or decision, to which a second motion must be made before a vote can be held, at which point the majority of the board must vote in favor of a motion for it to pass. Motions can also be tabled, postponed indefinitely or amended, which follow the same voting rules.

In other news:

  • The Grand Forks Health Department’s Michael Dulitz provided a COVID-19 update, which included news that the percent positivity rate has nearly doubled since the last county commission meeting, as well as a significant increase in new cases in Grand Forks County. The silver lining is that hospitalizations actually went down over the holidays. Dulitz said the omicron variant is the most likely culprit.

    “The increase that we're seeing in cases is really reflective of what we've been seeing in other places as omicron has come into the area,” Dulitz said. “I don't have specific data on omicron in Grand Forks County. Hearing from the state and some other surveillance and other counties, particularly on the eastern side of the state, a lot of what they're seeing in wastewater and the sequencing and testing is omicron right now, compared to the western side of the state where it's a little bit slower. So, everything points towards what's going on in Grand Forks right now probably reflective of omicron.”

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