According to Article XI of the Rules of Assembly Operation (RAO), when an overture to the General Assembly is received by the stated clerk, he refers it to a committee for review. The fifth paragraph of that Article directs the clerk where to refer overtures according to subject matter. The committee then makes a recommendation to the General Assembly about the action it should take concerning the overture.

Overture 10, from Western Carolina Presbytery, calls for a modification of this system when overtures deal with the nature or responsibilities of a permanent Committee, Agency, or ad-interim committee. Currently, the RAO calls for such overtures to be referred to the Committee or Agency they address. While Western Carolina’s rationale for the overture acknowledges that this is appropriate, it argues that it does not take into account a possible conflict of interest – for example, if an overture calls for the discontinuation of a committee or agency. Overture 10 would direct such overtures to the Overtures Committee as well. In the opinion of Skip Gilliken, stated clerk of Western Carolina Presbytery, “The overture provides a further check and balance that helps the Assembly do things decently and in order.”

Overture 10 was referred to the Overtures Committee (OC), and to the Committee on Constitutional Business (CCB) for its advice concerning its consistency with the Constitution and the rest of the RAO. The CCB has advised the OC that Overture 10 would “create ambiguity” in the RAO. The CCB reasons that the proposed change were adopted, it “could potentially create a conflict on the floor of the GA where opposing recommendations could come from two different committees with no RAO procedures in place on how to resolve such conflict.”

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