Simplified Rules of Order

Procedures Used in Meetings

Debate on Motions

Business is accomplished in meetings by means of debating motions. The word "motion" refers to a formal proposal by two members (the mover and seconder) that the meeting take certain action.

Technically, a meeting should not consider any matter unless it has been placed before the meeting in the form of a motion. In practice, however, it is sometimes advantageous to permit limited discussion of a general topic before a motion is introduced. A preliminary discussion can sometimes indicate the precise type of action that is most advisable, whereas presentation of a motion first can result in a poorly worded motion, or a proposal for action that, in the light of subsequent discussion, seems inadvisable. This departure from strict parliamentary procedure must be used with caution, however. The chair must be careful not to let the meeting get out of control.

Normally, a member may speak only once on the same question, except for the mover of the main motion, who has the privilege of "closing" the debate (that is, of speaking last). If an important part of a member's speech has been misinterpreted by a later speaker, it is in order for the member to speak again to clarify the point, but no new material should be introduced. If two or more people want to speak at the same time, the chair should call first upon the one who has not yet spoken.

If the member who made the motion that is being discussed claims the floor and has already spoken on the question, he/she is entitled to be recognized before other members.

Associations may want to adopt rules limiting the time a member may speak in any one debate-for example, five minutes.

The mover of a motion may not speak against his or her own motion, although the mover may vote against it. The mover need not speak at all, but when speaking, it must be in favor of the motion. If, during the debate, the mover changes his or her mind, he or she can inform the meeting of the fact by asking the meeting's permission to withdraw the motion.

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Last changed: 10/08/2002
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