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seeler's picture

seeler

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When does a person make a motion?

I've seen it done both ways.

 

1/   A person makes a motion and someone else seconds it.  the Chair calls for discussion.  People speak in turn, some supporting, some opposing, some asking questions and seeking clarification, some suggesting things that might make it a better motion.  Sometimes there is a friendly amendment that both the original person and the seconder agree upon.  After a bit the Chair asks if there is any further discussion, then calls for the vote, and the motion is either passed or defeated.

 

2/  Somebody asks a question or makes a statement and a discussion comes up.  People exchange ideas, ask more questions, argue,  make alternate suggestions, mention something quite unrelated, get back on topic, etc.  Finally the Chair calls for a motion.  Somebody makes the motion, and it is seconded.  Then the Chair immediately calls for a vote without any further discussion on the motion or how it is worded.

 

I think I prefer the first method.  Get a motion on the floor, have if discussed, either pass or defeat it.  The second gives no room to discuss the actual motion.  Discussion before it is made might not have direction and might cover a lot of things not directly related to the motion. 

 Or is there room for compromise between the two methods.

 

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Rev. Steven Davis's picture

Rev. Steven Davis

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The first system is quite formal in terms of parliamentary procedure. Theoretically, there's not much at all that should be discussed without a motion. I've seen examples of this first method where the mover of a motion gets quite snippy if amendments are suggested, etc., so that sometimes it just encourages people to sit and not participate in order not to offend.

 

The second is probably more common from what I've seen. It is less focussed, but sometimes out of those unfocussed discussions come well crafted and well thought out motions. The problem is that once the motion is put the debate often then keeps going with the same points being made once again now that we're formally "debating" a motion.

 

Either system works; neither system is perfect; both systems require a pretty competent person in the chair to make them work as well as they can.

Panentheism's picture

Panentheism

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The second works in a smaller group where the group is trying to arrive at a common undersdtanding - it works really well when the group is committed to the process.  It does not work in large groups and that is why motions are needed to focus = in the latter the mover has the last word as well as the first.

Rev. Steven Davis's picture

Rev. Steven Davis

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 My experience with both, pan, is that too often the chair ignores the rules and allows the same person or people to speak over and over again on the same motion. That's when the process starts to bog down. You get to speak to a motion once. If something comes up later in the discussion that you hadn't thought of - too bad. You don't get a second chance, unless - as you note - you're the mover of the motion. And I agree about large groups vs. small groups. The second works well, for example, in a Presbytery Committee meeting, but is unwieldy at a meeting of the full Presbytery.

GordW's picture

GordW

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The benefit of the second system is that sometimes the group is unsure where they need to head.  And so the discussion happens to sound out the alternatives and possibilities.  In the end the making of the motion is more about making the decision official.  I agree that it works best in smaller settings.  And really it is a variation on a consensus model of decision-making.

 

Many Boards on which I have participated have used that as their main decision making model.  However at Annual Meetings of the organization the first (and more formal) system is used

GUC's picture

GUC

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seeler wrote:

Or is there room for compromise between the two methods.

 

Hi seeler, Bourinot's rules of order (Article 50) allow for flexibility.  The chairperson may allow some informal discussion so long as the actual decision is reached by due process (motion, debate, vote, declaration).

lastpointe's picture

lastpointe

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 Even when a motion arises out of a general discussion there needs to be discussion after the motion is formally made.

 

General discussion ensues related perhaps to an item on the agenda.

Various views are expressed

Eventually someone makes a motion related to the discussion.

It is seconded.

 

Now the chair, even though there has been discussion , needs to call for discussion.  There may be none as everyone has made their points already but it still needs to be called for.

 

Otherwise you could get in a situation where people didn't voice views during the general discussion because they thought it was a "for information only" type of issue.

 

Suddenly a motion is made, seconded and voted on without them actually expressing their thougths.

 

Usually I have found that once a formal motion is made, the discussion becomes more pointed.  People want to ensure that they are makng their comments heard before a vote, especially if it will be controversial 

Mendalla's picture

Mendalla

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GordW wrote:

The benefit of the second system is that sometimes the group is unsure where they need to head.  And so the discussion happens to sound out the alternatives and possibilities.  In the end the making of the motion is more about making the decision official.  I agree that it works best in smaller settings.  And really it is a variation on a consensus model of decision-making.

 

For matters requiring greater discussion and discernment, our practice (I'm talking my UU fellowship here) has often been to hold informal congregational meetings (generally called town halls) to discuss the matter, get briefed by the Board and outside experts, and so on. No motions are made or allowed at these meetings since they do not meet the requirements of our constitution for a formal meeting. The Board then takes the input back and, if necessary, drafts a motion and calls a formal congregational meeting to introduce it (or adds to the agenda for the ACM if that is coming up soon). There can be further discussion once the motion is seconded, of course, but having the informal discussion first helps the Board ensure that what it introduces is something that is likely to be accepted and minimizes the discussion in the formal meeting. It kind of takes the second approach and separates the discussion piece and the actual motion.

 

Mendalla

 

Dcn. Jae's picture

Dcn. Jae

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At my church motions get made by church members very very rarely. For the most part the Pastor leads the business meetings, and a few people get to speak if he wishes them to. Our meetings are pretty peaceful events, mostly everyone just agrees with what the pastor has to say.

kaythecurler's picture

kaythecurler

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Do the members not think for themselves MorningCalm?  This sounds really odd to me.  More like Notices and Coming Events than a meeting.

crazyheart's picture

crazyheart

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I.agree kay.Does the pastor not think that Baptists can think for themselves without his authority.

spiritbear's picture

spiritbear

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As I understand the standard rules of meetings, the chair may not arbitrarily cut off discussion, no matter when or how a motion is made. If there is no motion, then that's different, but at any formal meeting I've attended, the threshold for cutting off debate on a motion (making a motion guarantees discussion) isn't even a simple majority. It's more like 2/3 must agree to go to a vote. Failing to do so means the chair is liable to a challenge to the chair. In such a case, the chair must step down and a replacement appointed, whereup the challenge is dealt with. But a challenge is a very drastic step, as failing a challenge is like a non-confidence motion, and the chair usually resigns. For this to happen, the differences would have to be severe.  In contentious issues, one must sometimes actually make a motion to close debate.

Dcn. Jae's picture

Dcn. Jae

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kaythecurler wrote:

Do the members not think for themselves MorningCalm?  This sounds really odd to me.  More like Notices and Coming Events than a meeting.

 

We have a small church, and the pastor works things out before the meetings begin. He talks to people one-on-one before the meeting takes place. This gives him an ability to build consensus. Members are able to raise motions at meetings should they so choose. It just very rarely ever happens.

GordW's picture

GordW

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Actually spiritbear the chair can, if the discussion is getting repetitive or going in circles, decide that no more discussion is warranted and call the vote.  Such a decision can of course be challenged .

 

The only way to force a vote under Bourinot's rules is to have someone move for an immediate vote.  Once moved and seconded this is not a debatable motion, and if passed the mover of the original gets to speak and the vote is taken.  Calling "Question" from the floor is not part of the official procedure (although I think it is under Robert's rules).

GUC's picture

GUC

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spiritbear wrote:

Failing to do so means the chair is liable to a challenge to the chair. In such a case, the chair must step down and a replacement appointed, whereup the challenge is dealt with. But a challenge is a very drastic step, as failing a challenge is like a non-confidence motion, and the chair usually resigns. For this to happen, the differences would have to be severe.  In contentious issues, one must sometimes actually make a motion to close debate.

 

Hi spiritbear, according to United Church rules of order (Bourinot's), the chairperson is not required to vacate the chair during an appeal of his/her ruling.  Rather, the chairperson puts the question to the court,  "The chair's ruling regarding _____ is appealed.  Should the chair's ruling be sustained? Those in favour?..."  If the ruling is not sustained, the chair simply continues with the business in a manner that complies with the appeal.

 

Brad Morrison

GUC's picture

GUC

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GordW wrote:

The only way to force a vote under Bourinot's rules is to have someone move for an immediate vote.  Once moved and seconded this is not a debatable motion, and if passed the mover of the original gets to speak and the vote is taken.

... and the motion to take an immediate vote, as spiritbear notes, requires a two-thirds majority to be carried.

GUC's picture

GUC

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GordW wrote:

Calling "Question" from the floor is not part of the official procedure (although I think it is under Robert's rules).

 

Hi GordW, Article 12 of Bourinot's does allow the motion, "That the question be now put." But this gets complicated and if it fails, requires the debate to be deferred to another day.

 

Brad Morrison

Dcn. Jae's picture

Dcn. Jae

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Actual quote from my church's Agenda for semi annual business meeting that we had today...

 

"Please note: While everyone's input is valued and considered, for the sake of an orderly meeting the agenda is determined beforehand. Thank you :)"

 

 

Mendalla's picture

Mendalla

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MorningCalm wrote:

Actual quote from my church's Agenda for semi annual business meeting that we had today...

 

"Please note: While everyone's input is valued and considered, for the sake of an orderly meeting the agenda is determined beforehand. Thank you :)"

 

 

 

We would do that for a meeting that was supposed to focus on a particular issue or motion. For a general business meeting (e.g. the ACM), we would have time set aside for business from the floor. And even at that, I once moved to put an issue off to a separate meeting because I felt it needed more time and deeper discussion than we could give it at the ACM.

 

Mendalla

 

Rev. Steven Davis's picture

Rev. Steven Davis

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GUC wrote:

spiritbear wrote:

Failing to do so means the chair is liable to a challenge to the chair. In such a case, the chair must step down and a replacement appointed, whereup the challenge is dealt with. But a challenge is a very drastic step, as failing a challenge is like a non-confidence motion, and the chair usually resigns. For this to happen, the differences would have to be severe.  In contentious issues, one must sometimes actually make a motion to close debate.

 

Hi spiritbear, according to United Church rules of order (Bourinot's), the chairperson is not required to vacate the chair during an appeal of his/her ruling.  Rather, the chairperson puts the question to the court,  "The chair's ruling regarding _____ is appealed.  Should the chair's ruling be sustained? Those in favour?..."  If the ruling is not sustained, the chair simply continues with the business in a manner that complies with the appeal.

 

Brad Morrison

 

Sorry, GUC, but you're wrong on two relatively minor points. The Rules of Debate and Order (which are Appendix III of the Manual) deal with this, and therefore Bourinot's does not apply. 

 

Section 2(c) of the Rules of Debate and Order wrote:

"When an appeal from a ruling is made, the Presiding Officer should state the point at issue, and may give reasons for the ruling. The Secretary shall then put the question in the following form: “Is the ruling of the Moderator (or such other title by which the Presiding Officer is known) sustained?” If the vote is a tie, the Presiding Officer is sustained. The Secretary shall declare the result."

 

This suggests that while the presiding officer is not required to vacate the chair, the functions of the presiding officer are assumed by the secretary of the meeting. It is the secretary who puts the question to the meeting and who declares the result.

 

I did my time as well as parliamentarian for Manitou Conference for a number of years.

GUC's picture

GUC

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Rev. Steven Davis wrote:
This suggests that while the presiding officer is not required to vacate the chair, the functions of the presiding officer are assumed by the secretary of the meeting. It is the secretary who puts the question to the meeting and who declares the result.

 

Sorry about that...I didn't notice the difference between Appendix III2(c) and Bourinot's Illustrations section.  Good catch.  I was too focused on the question of vacating (no pun intended).

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