For the good of the order
Making a Motion
Motions are an important vehicle for debating policy decisions, even for small or medium sized bodies like city councils, village boards and their committees. However, it is important to note that a motion is not required for discussion of an issue. Read the complete article here or in the April 2018 edition of the Municipality.
Motions: Amendment This article supplies a few guidelines for amending motions. Read the complete article here or in the May issue of the Municipality.
Presiding Officers and Agendas
There must be someone responsible for administering group discussion for it to be consistently effective and fair; for it to be democratic. That responsibility belongs to the presiding officer and begins with the agenda. Read the complete article here or in the June issue of the Municipality.
Discussion Rules for Chairpersons
One general statement that may surprise some members of municipal governing bodies and other subunits, is the right of the chair to participate just as any other member of the body. So, if a chairperson is a member of the body, s/he has all the rights of participation as any other member, including the right to make motions, second motions, participate in discussion, and vote. Read the complete article here or in the July issue of the Municipality.
Discussion Rules for Members
Discussion rules specific to the chairperson or presiding officer were highlighted here last month. This month the spotlight shifts to some of the key discussion rules for all members of a body operating under Robert’s Rules of Order.
It must be noted first that the general purpose of discussion rules for meetings like Robert’s or others is not to limit or stifle discussion. Read the full article here or in the August 2018 issue of the Municipality.
"Ownership" of Motions
The April “For the Good of the Order” column discussed the process of introducing a motion for the body’s deliberation. The motion is made by one member and seconded by another and then is presented to the body by the chairperson. This last step – (presenting the motion to the body) is important in that it determines that the control of the motion, i.e., whether to adopt it or change it or whether it ceases to be pending, belongs to the body and not to the maker or seconder. Read the full article here or in the September 2018 issue of the Municipality.
To Table or Postpone: What's the Difference?
This really happened: A local government body agreed to
“table” an item until the next meeting. When the chair attempted to introduce the item at the next meeting, a member objected on the grounds that a tabled item required that the body agree to take it from the table before it could be considered. A lengthy discussion ensued. Why the confusion? Read the full article here or in the October 2018 issue of the Municipality.
On Second Thought
The practice of seconding motions with words such as “I second the motion” or “second!” has become so routine and so expected that we might think that it is an absolute necessity before the body can legitimately consider a motion. There are, however, some nuances. Read the full article here or in the November 2018 issue of the Municipality.
Moving the Previous Question (Closing Debate)
A recent questioner asked, “When an amendment is on the floor, does a motion for the previous question terminate debate on the amendment or terminate debate on the item, calling for a vote on the unamended matter?” The direct answer is that if the motion for the previous question passes, a vote would be taken first on the amendment and then on the main motion. However, an explanation of the answer invites a fuller discussion of the rules of precedence and their effect on voting as set forth in Robert’s Rules of Order. Read the full article here or in the December 2018 issue of the Municipality.