About the Meeting

The WSMA House of Delegates meets once a year, typically in September or October. The Speaker of the House is Dr. Richard “Dick” Whitten, internist, Sammamish. The Vice Speaker of the House is Dr. Deborah Harper, pediatrician, Spokane.

All legislative power of the WSMA—including the power to alter, amend or repeal the bylaws—is vested in the House of Delegates. All business of the House is conducted according to parliamentary procedures as outlined in “The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure.” The speaker of the House serves as parliamentarian.

The House of Delegates
How the House of Delegates operates
Reference committees
WSMA governance outside of the Annual Meeting

The House of Delegates

The Washington State Medical Association is part of a federation of county and state medical societies and the American Medical Association. The objective of the WSMA is to:

  • Promote the art and science of medicine.
  • Protect and improve the health of the public.
  • Serve and provide leadership for its members, allied health care professionals and the public.

The WSMA is governed by a House of Delegates comprised of elected delegates from each county medical society, qualified state specialty societies and members of the WSMA Board of Trustees. There is one resident delegate, one student delegate and one young physician delegate. Each county society has one delegate for every 50 active WSMA members.

Each medical specialty society is entitled to elect or appoint one delegate and one alternate, provided that such specialty society has as members at least one hundred active members of the WSMA, or if the specialty society has fewer than 100 members, 50 percent of its members must belong to the WSMA.

How the House of Delegates operates

The House meets annually or may be called into special session at any time by the WSMA president on the written request of fifteen members of the house.

There are approximately 200 voting members of the House of Delegates. The House convenes its opening session on Saturday morning of the annual meeting. At this time, guests are invited to speak to the delegates and all reports and resolutions are referred to reference committees. This is followed by meetings of the reference committees on Saturday.

The House holds a second session on Sunday morning. The reference committees present their reports for consideration by the House on Sunday.

Reference committees

The reference committees are the key to the deliberations of the House of Delegates. Members of the House and individual members of the WSMA are invited and encouraged to attend these meetings.

Each reference committee is made of three members of the House appointed by the speaker and vice speaker.

The chair of the reference committee has the prerogative to permit non-members of the Association to present testimony. Committee meetings are open to the press.

When offering testimony before the reference committee, or on the floor of the House, please identify yourself and the society or organization which you represent. It is helpful, unless raising a point of order or asking a question, if you indicate you are speaking in favor of, or in opposition to, the resolution or report under discussion.

Remember, the reference committee is the most appropriate place for you to express your opinions and those of your constituents. Discussion on the floor of the House on Sunday is generally in response to the recommendations made by the reference committee and is not intended as a replay of more extensive testimony given at the committee hearings.

Most reference committees complete their business in two to three hours on Saturday. The committee reports are published under the direction of the speaker and vice speaker and are available online by Saturday evening and in hard copy by 7 a.m. on Sunday.

WSMA governance outside of the Annual Meeting

When the House of Delegates is not in session, the WSMA is governed by the board of trustees. The board meets quarterly, and is responsible for carrying out the mandates and policies of the House. The board has all the powers of the House except amending the bylaws or establishing dues or assessments.

The WSMA president, president-elect, 1st vice president, 2nd vice president, immediate past president, secretary-treasurer and assistant secretary-treasurer form the WSMA Executive Committee. The committee meets monthly, and acts for the board in implementing WSMA programs and establishing interim policy. The WSMA president is the spokesman for the association. The executive director/CEO is the chief executive officer.