Simplified Rules of Order
Orders of the Day
The orders of the day means the agenda or the order of business. If the order of business is not being followed, or if consideration of a question has been set for the present time and is therefore now in order, but the matter is not being taken up, a member may call for the orders of the day, and can thereby require the order of business to be followed, unless the meeting decides by a two-thirds vote to set the orders of the day aside.
Such a motion can interrupt another speaker, does not require a seconder, is not debatable, is not amendable, and cannot be reconsidered.
If the chair admits that the order of business has been violated and returns to the correct order, no vote is required. If the chair maintains that the order of business has not been violated, his/her ruling stands unless a member challenges the ruling. A motion to sustain the chair is decided by a simple majority vote.
Sometimes the chair will admit that the agenda has been violated, but will rule that the debate will continue on the matter before the meeting. In such a case, a vote must be taken and the chair needs a two-thirds majority to sustain the ruling. (The effect of such a vote is to set aside the orders of the day, i.e., amend the agenda, a move that requires a two-thirds majority vote.)
Calls for orders of the day are not in order in committee of the whole.
The orders of the day-that is, the agenda items to be discussed, are either special orders or general orders.
A special order specifies a time for the item, usually by postponement. Any rules interfering with its consideration at the specified time are suspended. (The four exceptions are rules relating to: (1) adjournment or recess, (2) questions of privilege, (3) special orders made before this special order was made, and (4) a question that has been assigned priority over all other business at a meeting by being made the special order for the meeting.) A special order for a particular time therefore interrupts any business that is pending when that time arrives.
Because a special order has the effect of suspending any interfering rules, making an item a special order requires a two-thirds vote, except where such action is included in the adoption of the agenda.
A general order is any question that has been made an order of the day (placed on the agenda) without being made a special order.
When a time is assigned to a particular subject on an agenda, either at the time the agenda is adopted, or by an agenda amendment later, the subject is made a special order. When the assigned time for taking up the topic arrives, the chairperson should announce that fact, then put to a vote any pending questions without allowing further debate, unless someone immediately moves to lay the question on the table, postpone it or refer it to a committee. Any of those three motions is likewise put to a vote without debate.
Also permissible is a motion to extend the time for considering the pending question. Although an extension of time is sometimes undesirable, and may be unfair to the next topic on the agenda, it is sometimes necessary. The motion requires a two-thirds majority to pass (in effect, it amends the agenda), and is put without debate.
As soon as any pending motions have been decided, the meeting proceeds to the topic of the special order.