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Harris County Democratic Party Rules and Bylaws

As amended and approved by the Harris County Democratic Party Executive Committee on June 4, 2023.

ARTICLE I - RULES OF ORDER 


All meetings of the Harris County Democratic Executive Committee (CEC) shall be conducted in accordance with Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised except as it may be otherwise provided herein or as provided in the Rules of the Texas Democratic Party (TDP Rules), and applicable laws of the State of Texas (State Law), including, without limitation, the Texas Election Code.

ARTICLE II - QUORUM 


Twenty-five percent of the members (exclusive of any vacancies) of the CEC of the Harris County Democratic Party (HCDP) being present at any meeting shall constitute a quorum for the purpose of transacting any business that might come before the CEC unless State Law or the TDP Rules specifically provide other quorum requirements. The quorum requirements for other committees of the HCDP shall be the same.
 

ARTICLE III - MEETINGS 


1. Regular meetings of the CEC shall be held as required by State Law and the TDP Rules.  Special meetings shall be held either upon a call by the County Chair, or upon the written petition of fifty-one percent of the qualified members (exclusive of vacancies) of the CEC presented to the County Chair.

2. The Presiding Officer of a CEC meeting may appoint a qualified individual to serve as parliamentarian.

3. Notice of all CEC meetings, regular or special, shall be given to each member of the CEC which shall be given at least ten days before the day of the meeting, and otherwise comply with the Rules of the TDP.

4. Resolutions, minutes of the last meeting, written reports of standing committees, proposed budgets, audit reports, and documents relating to other matters expected to be considered at a CEC meeting and for which a written document is required for the item to be considered shall be made available to CEC members for review at the meeting venue for at least one hour before the meeting begins. For Remote and Hybrid Meetings, as defined below, such documents will be made available (at least an hour before the meeting begins) via an internet link, except documents which,

(a) contains information of a financial, legal, or strategic nature which has not been publicly revealed or included in a publicly available record or report (Confidential Documents) or

(b) contains proprietary information the public disclosure of which would violate an agreement with the owner or source of such information (Confidential Documents), and except documents relating to personnel or disciplinary matters.

5. During the thirty days before a proposed budget is to be considered by the CEC, the County Chair and HCDP staff will conduct at least two non-public Remote Meetings, for precinct chairs and non-precinct chair members of the Steering Committee only, in which the County Chair will review and explain the proposed budget in-depth, including any modifications proposed by the Finance Committee, and entertain and respond to questions and comments from the participants in the meeting. In addition, with respect to other Confidential Documents, at the Steering Committee meeting prior to a CEC meeting, the County Chair and HCDP staff will review and explain the document in-depth, including any modifications proposed by a relevant standing committee, and entertain and respond to questions and comments from the participants in the meeting. The portion of the Steering Committee meeting which deals with a Confidential Document shall be non-public and include only precinct chairs and non-precinct chair members of the Steering Committee as participants.

6. Information contained in Confidential Documents shall not be shared in whole or in part with anyone who is not a precinct chair, a non-precinct chair member of the Steering Committee, a staffer employed by the HCDP, a professional providing services to the HCDP which require access to or involve Confidential Information, or another person approved by the Chair of the HCDP to have access to Confidential Information on a “need to know” basis (giving regard to, and respecting, the necessity to preserve the confidentiality of information of a financial, legal, strategic, or proprietary nature). Violation of this rule can lead to disciplinary action by the CEC. Confidential Documents will not be copied or photographed in any manner or distributed, including electronically, except that the County Chair may do so, or direct or authorize others to do so, when the Chair concludes that it is in the best interest of the Party to do so (such as in the ordinary course of business with Party staffers, or as necessary to comply with governmental regulations or process, or in communicating with professionals (such as lawyers representing the Party or accountants) about HCDP matters or affairs.

7. CEC, Steering, Standing and Ad Hoc Committee meetings may be conducted by video or telephone conference call (Remote Meetings), in person, or a combination of any or all (Hybrid Meetings) and accessible for the public by live streaming or other means, except where TDP Rules permit the closing of portions of the meeting.

8. The following additional provisions shall apply to Remote and Hybrid Meetings:


a. Committee members who participate remotely shall count for voting and quorum purposes. 
 

b. The notice for Remote and Hybrid Meetings shall:

i. state the date, time, platform(s) and contact information for the meeting.

ii. include options for attendees who do not have electronic access.

c. The following applies to voting at a CEC Remote or Hybrid Meeting:

i. Votes shall be conducted and recorded by an on-line polling system (persons participating by telephone conference call may vote by email) indicating who voted and how they voted.

ii. HCDP will post the result totals on their website promptly after the meeting and will give Senate District chairs the names and votes of each voting member in their respective district.

iii. There is no proxy voting at CEC meetings. A statement shall be required from the voter certifying that the person casting the ballot is the actual precinct chair and not someone acting on their behalf.

d. Newly appointed precinct chairs may be sworn in through audio or video technology.

 

9. There shall be no secret ballots because secret ballots are forbidden by TDP Rules.
 

ARTICLE IV - RECORDS 
All records of the CEC including but not limited to minutes of meetings, reports of committees, candidate filing forms, returns of elections, checkbooks, bank statements, accounting records, and official correspondence and contracts shall be maintained at the headquarters of the HCDP and if no such headquarters exist, then in a location agreed upon by the Chair and Secretary of the HCDP, and under their joint custody, and shall be available to the inspection of any member of the CEC.
 

ARTICLE V – FINANCE/FUNDRAISING 
1. All money that may be received by the CEC through any of its members or officers shall be deposited to an account or accounts of the CEC with a financial institution as may be directed by the Chair, Secretary and Treasurer. Two approvals (two signatures on checks) out of the three aforementioned officers shall be necessary for all expenditures in amounts of over $10,000, or such lesser amount as may be established by the CEC. Creation of any debt, liability, or financial obligation in excess of $10,000 to any single vendor, lender, contractor, supplier, landlord, lessor, or creditor within a twelve month period of time must be specifically approved by the CEC (or the Steering Committee acting on behalf of the CEC where action needs to be taken before the next regularly scheduled CEC meeting), even if such item has been generally approved by the CEC in its last budget. Authorization to incur such obligation constitutes approval by the CEC to expend funds to repay it.

2. The CEC shall have a fiscal year commencing on January 1 and ending on December 31.

3. The CEC shall adopt a budget each December covering operations through the adoption of the next budget pursuant to the procedure set forth below. Adoption of the budget shall constitute authorization to spend up to the amount specified for each category of expenditures.  Expenditure of funds by the CEC, unless otherwise specified by State Law, shall require the approval of at least fifty-one percent of its members present. 

4. No later than October 10 of each year, the County Chair will submit to the Finance/Fundraising Committee (Finance Committee) for review and approval of, or recommendation of modification(s) to a proposed budget. The budget will cover all anticipated expenditures and revenues, by category of expenditure and revenue, in reasonable and specific detail with a line-item amount for each category of expenditures. If the County Chair’s budget is approved, or the County Chair agrees with the changes recommended by the Finance Committee, the budget will be submitted to the Steering Committee, which shall include it on the CEC meeting agenda. If the County Chair and the Finance Committee fail to agree on a budget, both the County Chair’s budget (including any changes recommended by the Finance Committee with which the County Chair agrees) and the Finance Committee’s recommended modifications, will be submitted to the CEC and the CEC will decide the matter.

5. When a new County Chair takes office (after December 31, 2023), that person will, within 90 days after taking office, submit to the Finance/Fundraising Committee a proposed budget for the remainder of the fiscal year (the Revised Budget). Thereafter, the procedure described above will apply for consideration and adoption of the Revised Budget.  

6. If a new budget has not been approved by the CEC by December 31 because of lack of a quorum at the CEC meeting called to approve the budget or because of an extraordinary circumstance beyond the Party’s reasonable control (such as a major weather event or other emergency which necessitates postponement of a planned CEC meeting), the existing budget will be automatically extended and continued until a new budget is approved by the CEC. During this interval, the Party is authorized to expend funds at the spending levels established by the budget for the fiscal year just ended, pro-rated on a monthly basis (1/12th of the approved annual amount) for each category of expenditure.

7. Budget proposals not included in either the County Chair’s budget or the Finance Committee’s modifications, and amendments to the budget adopted by CEC, cannot be acted upon by the CEC until they have been presented to both the County Chair and the Finance Committee, in writing, at least thirty days prior to their being considered by the CEC. The budget proposals and amendments will be placed on the agenda of the first CEC meeting occurring at least thirty days after they have been submitted to the County Chair and the Finance Committee.

 

8. When it becomes apparent that anticipated revenue is unlikely to materialize in the amounts required by the budget or that expenditures will likely exceed the budgeted amount in any category of expenditure, the County Chair will promptly report to the Finance Committee. The Finance Committee will develop proposals to adjust for such circumstances. In addition, the County Chair will report to the CEC (in non-public session) at each CEC meeting, concerning any expenditures and revenues to date in the fiscal year, which appear to be materially greater or less than those authorized in the budget approved by the CEC.

 

9. Only members of the Finance Committee, precinct chairs, the County Chair and HCDP staff, may participate in the Finance Committee’s discussions about the budget; however, only voting members of the Finance Committee may vote. All discussions about the budget shall be non-public. Unless objected to by a majority of the voting members of the Finance Committee present, the Finance Committee chair may allow other individuals to address and engage with the committee.

 

ARTICLE VI - STEERING COMMITTEE 


1. The Steering Committee shall be composed of the following persons:

a. County Chair 

b. Secretary 

c. Treasurer 

d. Chairs of the State Senatorial District Committees resident in Harris County 
e. Secretaries of the State Senatorial District Committees resident in Harris County 
f. Chairs of all Standing Committees and the Deputy Chair of the Primary Committee

g. Any Democratic National Committee (DNC) members from Harris County. DNC Members shall be non-voting, ex-officio members of the Steering Committee 
h. A person designated by the County Chair as General Counsel to the HCDP, who shall be a non-voting, ex-officio member of the Steering Committee.

i. State Democratic Executive Committee (SDEC) members from every Senatorial District who reside in Harris County

j. Add-on members of the SDEC who reside in Harris County

k. Three At-Large members of the Steering Committee appointed by and serving at the pleasure of the County Chair.

2. The Steering Committee shall be an Advisory Committee to the County Chair and shall act on behalf of the CEC in between meetings of the CEC as necessary to approve expenditures, adopt resolutions on behalf of the HCDP (subject to being rescinded at the next meeting of the CEC), or other activities on behalf of the CEC, and shall serve as the Agenda Committee for the CEC. The Steering Committee members who are not CEC members may participate fully in CEC meetings except for voting and except that the person presiding over a meeting of the Steering Committee (including the County Chair), may vote to break a tie, but only in that circumstance.

3. The date, time and venue of Steering Committee meetings shall be posted on the HCDP online calendar by direction of the County Chair and noticed by e-mail to the committee members at least one week in advance, except in cases of emergencies, when as much advance notice as possible will be given and may be given in person, by email or by telephone. If a committee member has notified the chair of the committee that they do not have an e-mail address, they shall be notified by telephone. Where action can be taken by the Steering Committee, such action can be approved (or rejected) by e-mail, so long as a majority of members of the Steering Committee who are entitled to vote (excluding the County Chair from the number of voting members who are entitled to vote) approve such action via e-mail, and the chair concludes that the e-mail votes appear to be legitimate.

 

ARTICLE VII - STANDING COMMITTEES 


1. All standing committees shall consist of no less than eight members nominated by the respective senate districts of the nominees and approved by the CEC. There shall be at least one member from each senate district on each standing committee, but no more than four voting members per senate district.

2. By statute, the County Chair is the chair of the Primary Committee. The rest of the standing committee chairs and the deputy chair of the Primary Committee shall be appointed exclusively pursuant to the following procedure. The County Chair shall nominate at a CEC meeting a person for each position. No other nominations shall be made. If the nominee receives a majority vote of precinct chairs voting, that nominee is the chair (or deputy chair in the case of the Primary Committee) of the applicable committee. If the nominee does not receive a majority vote, the County Chair shall nominate another person. This shall continue until all positions are filled. Each standing committee may in its discretion elect a deputy chair (except for the Primary Committee) and/or secretary.

3. The term of standing committee memberships shall be for the full term of the CEC which approved them. In case of a vacancy occurring on any of the standing committees by reason of death, resignation, or legal disqualification, said vacancy shall be filled by the same manner used to select the person vacating such position. Additional members of standing committees may be selected from time to time in the same manner; however, each SD is limited to 4 voting members per senate district.

4. The County Chair and the General Counsel to the HCDP shall be ex officio members, without vote, on all standing committees. However, a General Counsel who is approved by the CEC to be on a committee as a representative of its Senate District shall have in that capacity full voting rights on that committee. The Treasurer shall be an ex-official member, without a vote, on the Finance Committee.

5. Each standing committee (except the Primary Committee) must meet a minimum of once per quarter. The meeting date, time and venue shall be posted on the HCDP online calendar by direction of the County Chair and noticed by email to the standing committee members at least one week in advance, except in cases of emergencies, when as much advance notice as possible will be given. If a committee member has notified the chair of the committee that they do not have an email address, they shall be notified by telephone. Where action can be taken by a standing committee, such action can be approved (or rejected) by e-mail, so long as a majority of members of the committee approve such action via e-mail, and the chair concludes that the e-mail votes appear to be legitimate.

 

6. The Standing Committees shall provide a report to the Steering Committee (for inclusion in the agenda) and to the CEC.

7. The Standing Committees of the CEC are as follows:

a. RULES COMMITTEE. Subject to approval by the CEC, the Rules Committee shall prepare the rules for the conduct of all meetings of the CEC. In addition, it shall from time to time review these rules and propose changes if it deems them advisable. The Rules Committee shall also receive, investigate, and consider complaints filed against precinct chairs. If deemed warranted, the Rules Committee shall, upon written notice, conduct a hearing affording the accused precinct chairs a fair opportunity to be heard. After the completion of the hearing, the Rules Committee shall make recommendations to the CEC concerning appropriate discipline, if any, to be imposed against a precinct chair who has violated the Rules of the HCDP, the TDP, or State Law. Disciplinary hearings will be conducted pursuant to the rules and procedures promulgated by the Rules Committee and approved by the Steering Committee.

b. PRIMARY COMMITTEE. The Primary Committee shall carry out all those functions provided by State Law relating to the administration of the Party’s Primary.  In addition, the Primary Committee shall make recommendations to the CEC regarding proposed changes to the Election Code for consideration by the CEC for action thereon.

c. RESOLUTIONS COMMITTEE. The Resolutions Committee shall study proposed policy resolutions (that is, formal expressions of the position of the HCDP on issues of public concern) to be offered to the CEC. All proposed policy resolutions (which excepts administrative resolutions such as those necessary in the regular course of the CEC’s business) shall be submitted in writing to the Resolutions Committee at least two weeks in advance of a Steering Committee meeting. If recommended by the Resolutions Committee, the resolutions shall be forwarded to the Steering Committee. The Steering Committee shall determine which policy resolutions will be included on the CEC meeting agenda. Resolutions which are not included on the agenda will be referred back to the Resolutions Committee with written guidance on why they were not included. No policy resolutions and no amendments to policy resolutions may be offered from the floor at a CEC meeting. If a matter arises at a time which makes impractical submission of a resolution to the CEC in accordance with the procedures outlined above, the proposed resolution can be submitted to the County Chair for referral to the Steering Committee for disposition pursuant to Article VI.2. All resolutions adopted by the CEC (or by the Steering Committee pursuant to Article VI.2) will be published on the HCDP website.

d. FINANCE/FUNDRAISING COMMITTEE. The Finance/Fundraising Committee is responsible for reviewing, commenting on, and approving or recommending changes to the budget prepared by the County Chair, and for raising the funds needed to finance the HCDP’s operations.

e. AUDIT COMMITTEE. The Audit Committee shall review the books and records and accounts of the HCDP (including compliance with the budget) at least annually and report in writing to the CEC on the review at the first CEC meeting following the end of the fiscal year under review. It shall also perform such other functions as the CEC or County Chair directs.

f. AD-HOC COMMITTEES AND SUBCOMMITEES. The County Chair may establish other, ad-hoc committees as he/she deems appropriate and may appoint committee members who are not members of the CEC. Standing Committees may create subcommittees as they deem appropriate.

8. Upon the vote of twenty percent of the voting members of any committee, a minority report can be prepared and presented, provided all other procedures and requirements mandated by these Rules have been complied with. The HCDP will facilitate such compliance.
 

ARTICLE VIII - VACANCIES 


1. Each Senatorial District shall elect a Vacancy Committee, which shall consist of at least six (6) members unless there are fewer than six (6) precincts in a Senatorial District. The Senatorial District Chairs shall name the Chair of the Vacancy Committee. The Vacancy Committee shall nominate legally qualified persons to fill all vacancies that may occur on the CEC from the precincts in that senate district

2. Where the Vacancy Committee determines that the vacating CEC member was in good standing at the time of vacating the office, preference in the filling of vacancies shall be in the following order:

a. A letter of recommendation from the vacating CEC member; or

b. A letter of recommendation from the spouse of a deceased CEC member; or

c. Failing receipt of a written recommendation of the appropriate type provided in (1) or (2) above within a reasonable time, the Vacancy Committee shall recommend a legally qualified person of like political persuasion.

 

3. When the Vacancy Committee determines that a CEC member has vacated the office by actions disqualifying that member from further service or that a vacating CEC member was not in good standing at the time of vacating the office, the Vacancy Committee shall recommend a legally qualified replacement.

4. In newly created precincts, the CEC member of the precinct from which the new precinct was created shall recommend a CEC member for that new precinct to the Vacancy Committee.

5. In vacancies caused by boundary changes affecting more than one precinct, the wishes of all affected CEC members shall be considered by the Vacancy Committee in the same manner as described above.

6. All nominations made by the Vacancy Committee are subject to approval of a majority of the CEC.

 

ARTICLE IX - PRECINCT CAPTAIN 
1. A Precinct Captain is:

a. An individual appointed by the Precinct Chair or Senate District Chair to assist in the duties of a Precinct Chair.

b. An individual appointed by the Senate District Chair to organize a vacant precinct.

2. A Precinct Chair may appoint a Precinct Captain(s) to assist with any activity related to voter education, registration, voter identification or get-out-the-vote (GOTV) effort in the precinct.

3. A Senate District Chair may appoint a Precinct Captain(s) if the precinct is vacant or inactive.

4. A Precinct Chair or Senate District Chair may in their discretion remove an appointed Precinct Captain at any time for any or no reason.

5. A Precinct Captain shall have no standing or voting authority, which is a statutory duty of a Precinct Chair.
 

ARTICLE X - SECRETARY 


1. The CEC shall elect a Secretary of the CEC at the first of the newly elected and installed CEC, who shall serve for the full two-year term of that CEC, or thereafter until a successor shall be elected. The duties of the Secretary shall be to keep the minutes of the meetings of the CEC, and such other duties as may be placed upon the Secretary herein, or by the TDP Rules, or by State Law, or that may from time to time be assigned to the Secretary by the Chair, or by the CEC.

2. In the event the office of county chair becomes vacant as a result of the death, disqualification, or resignation of the county chair, or the county chair becomes unable to perform the duties of that office as a result of incapacitation, the HCDP Secretary shall perform all of the duties and responsibilities of the county chair (except to the extent otherwise provided by State Law or by the TDP Rules) until a new chair is elected by the CEC or a previously incapacitated county chair is able to resume the duties of the office of County Chair.
 

ARTICLE XI - TREASURER

1. The CEC shall elect from its membership a Treasurer at the first meeting of the newly elected and installed CEC who shall serve the full two-year term of that CEC, or thereafter until a successor shall be elected.
 

2. The Treasurer shall keep or cause to be kept an accurate record of all funds received and spent by the CEC and shall present or have presented a financial report at all meetings of the CEC.
 

ARTICLE XII - NOTICES 


Whenever these rules or the TDP Rules require that timely notice be given (including notice in writing), such notice shall be regarded as having been given (including “in writing”) if it is published prominently on the Party’s website and either contained in an e-mail or in a written notice. However, if a member of the CEC or the Steering Committee notifies the county chair in writing that he or she does not have ready access to e-mail or the internet, e-mail and website posting of notice will not be sufficient as to that person, and other appropriate means of providing written notice to that person shall be employed (ordinarily, United States mail).

ARTICLE XVIII - EMERGENCY RULES FOR CONDUCTING COUNTY EXECUTIVE AND OTHER MEETINGS OF THE HARRIS COUNTY DEMOCRATIC PARTY


Pursuant to Article X, Section 12 of the TDP Rules, the following procedures shall be adopted in order to allow participation in CEC, other official or statutory meetings of HCDP organizations when a state or national emergency declaration is in effect for any voting precinct within the territory of such committee, including voting in the meeting(s) of such committee via telephone, video conferencing, email or other digital or electronic means and all precinct chairs participating in such committee meeting by such alternative means shall be counted and included in determining the presence of a quorum.

1. Notices of Meetings

All notices of CEC, or other official or statutory meetings of HCDP organizations meetings shall:

a. state how participants may attend, including links to any virtual method(s) of participating in the meeting and in-person participation if no internet access is available to said participant.

b. include an e-mail address where participants may submit questions before the meeting; and,

c. include a contact phone number where participants with disabilities or without access to the technology that will be utilized for the meeting, can obtain assistance in participating in the meeting.

2. Physical Attendance: 

a. Any requirement that the voting participants be physically present at the meeting, either to vote or to be counted for quorum, is waived for the duration of the declared State of Emergency as long as their attendance can be determined as indicated above.

b. All members at the meeting must be recognized by the Chair prior to speaking, and no more than one person shall speak at the same time.

3. Voting: 

a. All votes shall be recorded and conducted via an on-line balloting or polling system indicating who voted and how they voted.

b. HCDP will post the result totals on their website after the meeting has concluded and will give Senate District chairs the names and votes of each voting member in their respective district.

c. A statement shall be required from the voter certifying that the person casting the ballot is the actual precinct chair, and not someone acting on that person's behalf.

d. There is no proxy voting at CEC meetings held either in person, electronic or other means.

4. Vacancy appointments:

Newly appointed precinct chairs are not required to be physically present to be sworn in and may be sworn in through audio or video technology.

5. Public Participation 

The general public may view the virtual meeting through a live stream service of the HCDP’s choosing except where TDP Rules permit the closing of portions of the meeting to the general public.
 

ARTICLE XIV - AMENDMENT

These Rules may be amended by a majority of the CEC members attending a meeting called for such purpose, provided the proposed amendment must be mailed or emailed to the CEC members at least ten (10) days before its adoption is considered by the CEC.
 

ARTICLE XI - SAVINGS CLAUSE

To the extent these rules conflict with applicable law or the Texas Democratic Party Rules, they shall be deemed amended to make them compliant while at the same time preserving as much as possible the original intent of the language which is in conflict.

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