Background for the ASHP House of Delegates
It is important for ASHP members who serve in the House of Delegates to have a thorough understanding of their responsibility for reviewing and overseeing the professional policies of ASHP. This paper, which summarizes ASHP’s policy process from the perspective of the House of Delegates, supplements the primary sources for this information, namely the ASHP Charter, Bylaws, and Rules of Procedure for the House of Delegates [PDF].
The House of Delegates includes 163 voting state delegates elected from among ASHP active members through a process conducted by affiliated state societies. In those states where no affiliate exists, the ASHP President appoints a committee from among ASHP active members to conduct the election of that state’s delegates. State delegates are apportioned according to the distribution of ASHP active members among the states.
Responsibilities of state delegates include (1) developing an understanding of the issues on the House of Delegates agenda, (2) learning the perspectives of ASHP members in the state on those issues, (3) participating in a Regional Delegate Conference, (4) participating in the House of Delegates session, and (5) reporting back to ASHP members in the state on the outcome of the House session. In addition, experienced delegates are expected to mentor new delegates.
Other voting delegates include all officers and directors of ASHP, past presidents (if eligible to be active members), the chairs of the executive committees of sections and forums, and the five fraternal delegates representing the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Public Health Service, and Department of Veterans Affairs.
From Idea to Policy—The Process of Policy Development
The formation of ASHP professional policy begins with the member (see Appendix A) [PDF]. Members have many opportunities to identify topics for policy development, including at open hearings and Regional Delegate Conferences; through the House of Delegates in the form of Recommendations, Resolutions, and New Business; through affiliated state societies by responding to the "call for Resolutions"; through topics suggested for the councils or the executive committees of sections and forums; and through discussions with ASHP officers, Board members, and staff. Proposed new professional policies must be approved by the Board of Directors before they are submitted for House of Delegates action. Characteristics of good ASHP professional policies may be found in Appendix B [PDF] .
Council Meetings. The five councils—Education and Workforce Development, Pharmacy Management, Pharmacy Practice, Public Policy, and Therapeutics (new designations adopted in January 2006)—meet annually in September. After two days of thoughtful deliberations, each council submits a report with policy recommendations that are acted upon by the Board of Directors in January. Policy recommendations approved by the Board for ratification by the House of Delegates are placed on the ASHP Web site in mid-March and published in the April 15 issue of AJHP.
Section and Forum Executive Committees. New professional policies may be recommended to the Board of Directors by the executive committees of sections and forums. This track in policy development is relatively new and is expected to be used more frequently in the coming years.
Resolutions, Recommendations, and New Business. In November, a "call for Resolutions" is sent to affiliated state societies and publicized to all ASHP members. Resolutions require two ASHP active members—not necessarily delegates—as sponsors and must be submitted 90 days in advance of the House session.
Recommendations, another avenue for members to identify a topic for further review by ASHP, may be presented at the House session by any delegate.
New Business motions may be introduced by any delegate at the second meeting of the House.
Regional Delegate Conferences. In April, ASHP posts on its website the reports that will be considered at the House session. In early May, the Regional Delegate Conferences (RDCs) are held, which are designed for delegates and alternate delegates to review upcoming House business with ASHP officers and staff. The RDCs are also a forum for informal discussion of issues related to hospital and health-system pharmacy practice, state society operations, and ASHP activities. State society officers are welcome to attend RDCs.
The time between the RDCs and the House session provides delegates an opportunity to discuss items on the House agenda with colleagues. Such dialogue gives delegates insight into various points of view on issues and helps ensure well-rounded debate in the House.
Open Forum for Members. This session serves as both the "Open Hearing of the House of Delegates" and a time for discussion by ASHP members of any matter of concern related to pharmacy practice in hospitals and health systems. The session is held at the Summer Meeting before the first meeting of the House, and discussion is facilitated by the Chair of the House. The Open Forum is an excellent opportunity for practitioners to bring emerging issues to the attention of ASHP leaders.
House of Delegates Procedures
The House session is composed of two meetings, held on Sunday and Tuesday during the ASHP Summer Meeting, which runs from Sunday to Wednesday. A sample agenda is shown in Appendix C [PDF].
Registration of Delegates. Delegates present their credentials for delegate registration at designated times at the Summer Meeting. Alternate delegates need not register in advance of the House session unless they are replacing a delegate. If an alternate delegate is replacing a delegate for the second meeting of a House session, registration will be accepted in advance of the meeting in the ASHP office at the meeting site.
Seating of Delegates. Once a delegate has responded to the roll call at the beginning of the House session, the delegate is considered recognized. An alternate can replace a delegate and thus become a recognized delegate only at the beginning of a House meeting.
If neither a delegate nor alternate delegate from a state is present at the beginning of the House session for the roll call and therefore is not recognized in the House, the Chair will recognize the first certified delegate or alternate from that state who comes before the House.
Caucuses. Delegate caucuses are typically scheduled before the first meeting and between the first and second meetings of a House session. Caucuses are particularly valuable for airing ideas about potential amendments to policies and for refining amending language. Caucuses, which may be requested by delegates or may be arranged by the Chair of the House, are scheduled through the ASHP Executive Office.
Discussion of Issues by the House of Delegates. All business before the House is open for discussion upon introduction at the specified point in the agenda. (An exception is Recommendations, which are merely introduced and not discussed.) Each Board report on councils is presented by the Board liaison to the council. The policy recommendations in each report are introduced as a block. Delegates may discuss any policy recommendation after the report is introduced. Delegates may request a separate vote on any individual recommendation; such requests are automatically accepted by the Chair unless any delegate objects, in which case a majority of delegates must vote in favor of separate consideration.
Due Consideration of Amendments to Professional Policy Proposals. If the House amends a professional policy proposal presented to it by the Board, the Board must reconsider the matter before it becomes official policy. This step is required in the ASHP Bylaws and ensures that policies adopted by the House meet legal requirements, are consistent with existing policies and organizational commitments, and are financially feasible. Typically, the Board schedules a brief meeting between the first and second meeting of a House session for purposes of "duly considering" any amended proposals. Occasionally, an issue may require more time for due consideration than is available between meetings of the House, in which case the matter will be referred by the Board to a council or other body for further study. The Board reports the results of its due consideration of amended proposals during the second meeting of the House.
After hearing the Board’s report on due consideration of amendments, the House has the option of reconsidering a matter, which requires the approval of two-thirds of delegates. This option is raised if the Board does not accept an amendment and the House wishes to reconsider the original language approved by the Board.
The ASHP Bylaws permit the House of Delegates to take final action on any matter placed before it if the Board of Directors rules that bona fide extraordinary circumstances require immediate action, and if a majority of delegates concur.
Recommendations. Recommendations are the simplest and most direct way for a delegate to identify topics for further review and policy development. At the designated point in the House agenda, any delegate may present a Recommendation by simply approaching a microphone and voicing it. A written copy of the Recommendation should be presented to the Secretary of the House. Recommendations do not require a second, are not debatable, and are received without a vote. Recommendations are automatically referred to the appropriate ASHP body for consideration. The outcome of a Recommendation is reported both to the originator and to the House. Appendix D [PDF] is a form that may be used to submit a Recommendation.
New Business. New Business items may be proposed by delegates and require a second before consideration by the House. New Business must be submitted in writing by 4:00 p.m. the day before the second meeting of the House, and must include appropriate background information. The Board is not able to "duly consider" New Business items before the House considers them. Hence, the House has only two options, namely, referring a New Business item to the Board for review or rejecting the item. The Board reports all action taken on New Business at the next session of the House. Appendix E [PDF] is a form that may be used to submit New Business items.
Resolutions. Resolutions require sponsorship by two active members, who need not be delegates. Resolutions must be submitted 90 days in advance of the House session.
Resolutions are submitted to the House with a recommended course of action from the Board, although the House’s action is on the Resolution itself, not on the Board’s recommendation. The House may adopt, amend, reject, or refer the Resolution. If a Resolution is passed with amendments, the Resolution must be duly considered by the Board, as required by the Bylaws.
Rules of Order. The ASHP Charter, Bylaws, and Rules of Procedure for the House of Delegates, supplemented by the latest edition of Robert’s Rules of Order, govern the proceedings of the House. A professional parliamentarian is appointed to advise the Chair of the House on procedural matters. Basic points in parliamentary procedure are outlined in Appendix F [PDF]. These procedural issues are covered in an orientation session for delegates conducted by the Chair of the House and the parliamentarian in advance of the first meeting of the House.
(Revised March 2009)