Leadership Notes #28 – 10 Basic Motions

(This series of “notes” first appeared in the YahooGroup “VenturingList” and are written by Michael Brown. I thought that they were worth sharing with the Commissioner Corps.)

[Toward the end of September, the National Association of Parliamentarians will be holding their National Convention. At this event, the new edition (11th) of “Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised” will be released. In honor of that, for this month, we will be focusing on parliamentary procedure. This is the third of the ‘motions’ sub-series]

As noted, the workhorse for introducing and handling business in your crew (or a committee within it) is the MOTION. In the first in this subseries, we covered how to handle the basic “main motion”. Each member has the right to participate according to their own judgment- to make motions, debate, and vote. The following summary will not tell you everything you need to know, but if you know how to accomplish what you want in meetings, you have made great strides in contributing to effective meetings. So here we give 10 basic motions that most people will need to know.

1. BRING UP BUSINESS. If you want to propose that your group take an action (ie, make a purchase, plan a service event or social event or a camping trip) you must make a MAIN MOTION. You can only do this when no other business is pending. (see the first in this subseries on how to do this).

2. KILL A MAIN MOTION. Move to POSTPONE INDEFINITELY. This avoids a direct vote on the main motion and thereby “kills” it.

3. MAKE A MAIN MOTION BETTER. Move to AMEND the main motion. You may add or delete or change, even substitute one motion for another. Don’t withhold a second because the motion isn’t quite what you want, instead AMEND it.

4. GET MORE INFORMATION. Move to REFER the motion to a committee. You may even specify which committee or you may define the committee. (that is, assign it to an already existing Standing Committee or establish a short-lived Special Committee or Ad Hoc Committee with specific members just to look at this matter) Very useful if you think the idea has merit, but needs more work by a small group of people.

5. PUT OFF THE VOTE ON A MAIN MOTION. Move to POSTPONE the main motion to a later time or another meeting. The time must be DEFINITELY specified. If postponing it to another meeting, ideally it should be the next one.

6. PUT ASIDE TEMPORARILY. Move to LAY the pending motion ON THE TABLE. Can only be used if an urgent reason to do so. Consideration of the motion continues after adoption of the motion to TAKE FROM THE TABLE.

7. CLOSE DEBATE/STOP AMENDMENTS. Move the PREVIOUS QUESTION. (some groups allow for this to be called “STOP DEBATE”). This requires a 2/3 vote and if adopted the vote is taken immediately on the pending motion. DON’T confuse the vote on the previous question with a vote on the motion itself!! They are separate! If you voted to stop the debate, you STILL have to vote on the motion itself.

8. TAKE A BREAK. Move to RECESS. A recess is short intermission (say, 15 minutes or so); the interrupted business is resumed after the recess.

9. CLOSE THE MEETING. Move to ADJOURN. Adjourn is in order even when business is pending and if adopted closes the meeting immediately. (any pending business is lost, by the way).

10. NEED TO KNOW SOMETHING more about the pending motion? Use the device POINT OF INFORMATION. For example, “Mr. President, Point of Information. How much did we give last year?”

For more resources on motions, see the previous Note.

[this note is based on work by the Plantation Unit of Parliamentarians]