Three things a presiding officer needs: (1) The bylaws or standing rules that govern the society (2) a scripted agenda for the meeting (3) and her/his parliamentarian at her side. In seating at the meeting the Parliamentarian ALWAYS sits to the right of the presiding officer.
MOTIONS: Motions can be complicated and some require a lot of study. With our given time today we’ll talk about a few of the most used motions in our meetings.
When a motion is not necessary
1. No motion is in order to approve the minutes. The presiding officer asks for corrections and if none declares the minutes approved. Or as corrected
2. No motion is in order to approve the Treasurer’s report/monthly financial statement. The presiding officer (NOT the treasurer) asks for questions and then declares the report filed for audit.
3. No motion is in order to adjourn the meeting. The presiding officer asks if there is further business to be brought before the meeting and if not the presiding office adjourns the meeting.
Motions by chairmen:
If a committee chairman brings a motion and if it comes from a committee of more than one person it does not require a second. If a motion comes from a committee of one the motion then requires a second. The purpose of a second is to show that another person favors bringing the motion to the floor.
No motion is on the floor, that is before the membership, until the presiding officer repeats the motion. In the discussion following, the maker of the motion has the privilege of speaking first to the motion. In fact it is an obligation. This is the person that best knows the rationale for presenting the motion.
Whoever is presenting a plan of action, please don’t leave your presiding officer standing there wondering what to do. Make your motion, if one is necessary, and then the presiding officer can carry on with the motion.
If during discussion someone in the audience calls “Question” this is actually a motion. The correct language is, “I move the previous question”. The presiding officer does not immediately call for the vote because this is a motion and must have a second, discussion and vote. If the presiding officer feels that there is more discussion that will bring additional information he/she can call the motion for the question out of order.
At the other end…if the presiding officer feels that no new information is being given in the discussion and it has gone on for an unusual length of time he/she may call for the vote.
One other misuse of a motion is to move to “Lay on the table”. If you have an item of business you wish to postpone this is your motion. Move to postpone to a certain time or the next meeting. To lay on the table means you must take it up again at the same meeting. To lay on the table and to remove from the table takes a second, discussion and vote.
The parliamentary authority is Robert’s Rules Of Order Newly Revised and you should be using the 2000 edition. If you do not wish to delve into parliamentary procedures at this level there are several other resources available. You can usually find these in a book store: Robert’s Rules Of Order Newly Revised In Brief, Complete Idiot’s Guide To Robert’s Rules and Robert’s Rules For Dummies. No insult intended.
To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, who Parliamentarians consider the father of parliamentary procedures in America….A society without rules is chaos.