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Parliamentary Minute #2

TYPES OF MOTIONS

Motions are used by members of a body to express themselves during a meeting. A motion is a proposal that the entire assembly can take action on.

1. Main Motions introduce business items before the assembly.
• Introduces new items to the membership for their consideration.
• They cannot be made when any other motion is on the floor.

    a. Original Main Motions introduce a new subject to the assembly.
    b. Incidental Main Motions usually relate to the past or future actions of the assembly.

2. Secondary Motions are made while a main motion is pending.

    a. Privileged Motions introduce items that are urgent and unrelated to the pending buisness about special or important matters unrelated to pending business.
    Examples: To Call for the Orders of the Day (enforces the schedule), To Raise a Question of Privilege (to attend to an urgent matter unrelated to business), To Recess, To Adjourn, To Fix a Time to Adjourn
    b. Subsidiary Motions change or affect how a main motion is handled, and are voted on before a main motion.
    Examples: To Postpone Indefinitely, To Amend, To Commit (refer to a committee), To Postpone Definitely, To Limit or Extend Limits of Debate, Previous Question (call for a vote), To Lay on the Table
    c. Incidental Motions provide a means of questioning procedure concerning other motions and must be considered before the other motion.
    Examples: Point of Order (calls the chair to follow the rules), Appeal (calls the assembly to overrule the chair), Suspend the Rules, Objection to the Consideration of a Question, Division of a Question (vote on separate parts), Division of the Assembly (calling for an accurate vote tally), Parliamentary Inquiry, Point of Information, 
Request for Privilege

The lists of examples are incomplete. We will begin to get into the details of these motions next time.

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Parliamentary Minute #1

Parliamentary Procedure

In a meeting involving discussion and debate moving toward a decision, it is good and necessary that we agree upon rules to govern the business of the meeting efficiently, to maintain a respectful order, and to guide the group toward clear decisions. Such a system of rules is called ‘parliamentary procedure’ or ‘rules of order.’ Robert’s Rules of Order is the most generally recognized system of parliamentary procedure. (There are others.)

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If I were writing a book on parliamentary procedure, I might begin somewhere else. But as this parliamentary minute is to be practical and perhaps a little remedial, I’m beginning in the middle with the two procedures which are among the most common and familiar.

1. Being Recognized to Hold the Floor – the Right to Speak

Everyone must first be recognized by the chair before he is allowed to speak, and nobody may interrupt someone who is already recognized to speak – except for special privileged motions or points. The standard way to be recognized is to stand and address the chair. In some contexts, raising a hand is allowable. In some contexts, merely raising the voice is allowable.

Though in our meetings we are less formal and sometimes spontaneously devolve into an open discussion, the chair is responsible to call the meeting back into more formal order, though he should use discretion and diplomacy in doing so.

2. Making a Motion from the Floor

The following is the more formal way of proceeding in a large meeting. In smaller meetings such as we have, some of the formalities may be altered or eliminated. (See Robert’s Rules, p. 487)

From Handbook of Parliamentary Procedure
HOW TO MAKE A MOTION

The following procedure is generally recognized as good form in making a motion.

Obtain the floor as follows:

    –Stand. (Except in very small or informal meetings, the president should also stand when speaking.)
    –Address the chairman or the president and say “Mr. President” or “Madam Chairman.”
    –The chairman then recognizes the speaker by saying “Mrs. Smith” or “Mr. Jones.” The speaker may not present the motion until recognized by the chairman.
    –State the motion carefully. This is usually done by saying “I move that——— ———,” or “I move the adoption of the following resolution.” It is often well to have the motion prepared in written form before the meeting.
    –The motion must then be seconded. A motion cannot be discussed unless it is seconded; also, unless it receives a second, it is lost. Any eligible voter, other than the one who made the motion, may second it. He (or she) may remain seated, saying simply, “I second the motion.”
    –The chairman must repeat the motion in full. The usual statement is: “The motion has been made and seconded that . . . . . . . Is there any discussion?”

The Motion is then open for discussion. This is done by members of the group, who obtain the floor by (1) standing, (2) addressing the chair saying “Mr. Chairman,” and (3) being recognized by the chairman who says “Mr. Smith.”

A good chairman encourages as much discussion as possible. In this way, the facts and merits of the question are brought out, and members can vote more intelligently. Thorough discussion often prevents people being dissatisfied afterwards. The person who makes the motion is usually given the opportunity to open and close the discussion.

After the discussion, the vote is taken.

(Methods of voting will be discussed later.)

If the members speak directly to each other, the discussion will more easily degenerate into personalities. – Jeremy Bentham, Political Tactics (Chapter XI “Of Debates” § 5), 1791