The 2019 Council on Legislation may not have made as many dramatic changes as the Council three years ago did, but it made several decisions that will shape the future of Rotary.

Among the most important, the Council elevated the status of Rotaract clubs, allowing them to join Rotary International the way that Rotary clubs do. The change is intended to increase the support that Rotaract clubs receive from RI and to enhance their ability to serve.

“We need to be an inspiration to our young partners, so they will continue doing the great service that they do,” said RI President Barry Rassin when he presented the measure. “This sends a strong message that they are truly our partners in service.”

In many ways, the Rotaract experience will not change. Rotary clubs will still charter and sponsor Rotaract clubs. Rotaract clubs will still have their own standard constitution and their own unique club experience. And members of a Rotaract club will not be called Rotarians. The measure simply expands the definition of membership in Rotary International to include both Rotary and Rotaract clubs.

Every three years, representatives from Rotary districts around the world meet in Chicago, Illinois, USA, to consider changes to the constitutional documents that govern Rotary International. This year’s Council considered more than 100 proposals.

Representatives authorized the Board to pursue changing RI’s charitable status to a section 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization under the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. It is presently a 501(c)(4). A task force has been studying the possible change for 18 months and says it will offer benefits that include tax reductions and vendor discounts that will reduce expenses.

Dues increase

As for dues, the Council approved a modest increase of $1 a year for each of three years, beginning in 2020-21. The previous Council set dues for 2019-20 at $34 per half year.

With the increase, the dues that clubs pay to RI per member will increase to $34.50 per half year in 2020-21, $35 per half year in 2021-22, and $35.50 per half year in 2022-23. The dues will not be raised again until a future Council votes to change it.

The Council also changed the name of the General Surplus Fund to RI Reserve, because that more accurately reflects the purpose of the fund. In another vote, the Council approved calling the general secretary a chief executive officer (CEO) in circles outside Rotary, to increase his stature in dealings with other intergovernmental organizations.

A seemingly small but intensely debated action will reduce the number of nonvoting members at future Councils, by removing past RI presidents and allowing only one RI Board director to attend but not vote.

But in some respects, the Council defined itself as much by what it did not do. 

This year’s representatives resisted pressure to limit some of the flexibility that the 2016 Council granted clubs, rejecting several measures that would have placed restrictions on clubs. One unsuccessful measure would have required clubs to meet at least 40 times each year. 

Many clubs have been using the innovative and flexible club formats to attract new members and meet their current members’ needs.

Representatives also rejected proposals to make it optional for members to subscribe to an official Rotary magazine and to reduce the size of the Council by half and have it meet every two years.

See some of the Resolutions that you may find of interest, and the outcome:

Note that Attendance requirements continue but Make ups no longer restricted to 14 days before and after a meeting date.

Restrictions based on Classifications has been removed.

19-20To remove committees from the Standard Rotary Club Constitution115396Rejected
19-21To require that key club committee chairs be board members238269Rejected
19-22To amend the term of the club president279225Adopted
19-24To require the presentation of a budget and an annual report at the club’s annual meeting408102Adopted as amended
19-25To replace the requirement for attendance reports with a report on service240268Rejected
19-26To lengthen the notice period for changing a club’s name or locality39896Adopted
19-27To allow a club not to use “club” as part of its name255252
See Below for more enactments
19-29To amend the satellite club reporting procedure42378Adopted
19-30To move the provisions allowing for flexibility in meetings and attendance336174Adopted
19-31To remove the provisions allowing for flexibility in meetings and attendance  Withdrawn
19-32To remove the provisions allowing for flexibility in meetings and attendance  Withdrawn
19-33To provide that clubs shall meet at least 40 times per year122384Rejected
19-34To amend the provisions for counting attendance at a club meeting162348Rejected
19-35To amend the provisions for making up an absence286217Adopted 14 Day 
19-36To amend the provisions for making up an absence115392Rejected
19-37To amend the provisions regarding membership in clubs380125Adopted
19-38To amend the qualifications for membership120376Rejected
19-39To amend the composition of clubs and to remove classification limitations403108Adopted
19-72To admit Rotaract clubs to RI membership381134Adopted as amended
19-82To increase per capita dues333174Adopted