Guest Mary Ellen Heisser

Motion to dispense with the reading of the minutes

22 posts in this topic

Frequently, at our women's group at my church, of which I am currently the President of, a motion is made and seconded to dispense with the reading of the minutes of the last meeting. The motion is put to the members for discussion. No one ever wants to discuss it and everyone always votes in favor of the motion. Same procedure was done at tonight's meeting. However, at the very end of the meeting, as we were adjourning, a member wanted the minutes read. It was explained that the motion had been made early to dispense with the reading, etc. She got miffed and felt that the minutes should be read and approved and if not done at the meeting, then a special committee should be formed to read all the minutes and approve them. I politely explained that she should have brought this up when it was put on the floor for discussion and that next month, if she wants the minutes read, then she needs to say something. Did I follow correct parlimentary procedure?

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You cannot have followed correct parliamentary procedure, since what your group has been doing for some time is already in violation of it. (Um, note that that is not what Robert's Rules says.)

Any attempt to impose proper procedure on the structure of proceeding that you already have would result in gibberish. (Again, that's my assessment: you won't find that in RONR.)

See, it looks to me as if your group's membership wanted to decide that the minutes are OK as they are -- and that you wanted to decide that you don't need them read. What you wanted to do, to certify that your group says officially that the minutes are correct, is called "approving" the minutes. To dispense with the reading of the minutes is to say that we will read them later -- adopting a motion to dispense with the reading of the minutes is only an order that the reading will be done later.

Given your group's situation, I suggest that as soon as possible, you adopt a motion that ratifies all the previous "dispensings," saying that all those previous dispensings were really approval of those minutes as officially correct.

Then, stop calling your group's official approval of the minutes, as correct, "dispensing of their reading," and begin to call it what it is.

And most importantly, make sure that the minutes are, indeed, correct, before approving them. If they have been sent out to all the members, by e-mail, paper mail, or tedious reading over the phone, that's fine. But if your group does not do that previous distribution, you really, really, better read them at a meeting. (And note that this objecting member -- or any member -- has the right to demand that the minutes be read.)

Yes, a special committee can be formed to approve all those old minutes, desperately hanging there with all sorts of inaccuracies threatening your group, who has endorsed that version, which might have all sorts of falsehoods there, claiming to be what your group did.. A special committee might be the better way, but it's certainly not required.

And lastly, if your group used to find the minutes tedious on reading them, then they probably have about twice as much wordage in them as they are supposed to have. Minutes are what the assembled group has done, not what any particular one has said. If that's the problem, then you need to get the secretary to read about four pages in RONR (beginning about p. 451), or some fewer in RONR - In Brief.

And Ms Heisser, you didn't do too bad at all.

(Edited to reduce my own gibberish.)

Edited by Gary c Tesser

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You cannot have followed correct parliamentary procedure, since what your group has been doing for some time is already in violation of it. (Um, note that that is not what Robert's Rules says.)

Any attempt to impose proper procedure on the structure of proceeding that you already have would result in gibberish. (Again, that's my assessment: you won't find that in RONR.)

See, it looks to me as if your group's membership wanted to decide that the minutes are OK as they are -- and that you wanted to decide that you don't need them read. What you wanted to do, to certify that your group says officially that the minutes are correct, is called "approving" the minutes. To dispense with the reading of the minutes is to say that we will read them later -- adopting a motion to dispense with the reading of the minutes is only an order that the reading will be done later.

Given your group's situation, I suggest that as soon as possible, you adopt a motion that ratifies all the previous "dispensings," saying that all those previous dispensings were really approval of those minutes as officially correct.

Then, stop calling your group's official approval of the minutes, as correct, "dispensing of their reading," and begin to call it what it is.

And most importantly, make sure that the minutes are, indeed, correct, before approving them. If they have been sent out to all the members, by e-mail, paper mail, or tedious reading over the phone, that's fine. But if your group does not do that previous distribution, you really, really, better read them at a meeting. (And note that this objecting member -- or any member -- has the right to demand that the minutes be read.)

Yes, a special committee can be formed to approve all those old minutes, desperately hanging there with all sorts of inaccuracies threatening your group, who has endorsed that version, which might have all sorts of falsehoods there, claiming to be what your group did.. A special committee might be the better way, but it's certainly not required.

And lastly, if your group used to find the minutes tedious on reading them, then they probably have about twice as much wordage in them as they are supposed to have. Minutes are what the assembled group has done, not what any particular one has said. If that's the problem, then you need to get the secretary to read about four pages in RONR (beginning about p. 451), or some fewer in RONR - In Brief.

And Ms Heisser, you didn't do too bad at all.

(Edited to reduce my own gibberish.)

I disagree that a motion to dispense with the reading of the minutes requires that they be read later. RONR suggests that when minutes have been distributed to the members in writing, that the assembly may dispense with their reading by unanimous consent. It is permissible to dispense with their reading completely in this case.

But you are quite correct that what may not be dispensed with is the approval of the minutes. This should take place whether the minutes have been read out loud or not. If the group has not been approving the minutes, and if this approval has not been recorded in the minutes of each subsequent meeting, then they have some work to do.

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... a motion is made and seconded to dispense with the reading of the minutes of the last meeting.

The motion is put to the members for discussion.

No one ever wants to discuss it and everyone always votes in favor of the motion.

Same procedure was done at tonight's meeting.

However, at the very end of the meeting, as we were adjourning, a member wanted the minutes read.

It was explained that the motion had been made early to dispense with the reading, etc.

She got miffed and felt that the minutes should be read and approved and if not done at the meeting, then a special committee should be formed to read all the minutes and approve them.

I politely explained that she should have brought this up when it was put on the floor for discussion and that next month, if she wants the minutes read, then she needs to say something.

Did I follow correct parliamentary procedure?

No!

The member had the RIGHT to demand, without debate, with majority vote, that the minutes be read.

[see RONR (tenth edition, 2000) excerpt, pages 456-457:]

By a majority vote without debate, the reading of the

minutes can be “dispensed with”--that is, not carried

out at the regular time. If the reading of the minutes is

dispensed with, it can be ordered (by majority vote

without debate) at any later time during the meeting

while no business is pending; and if it is not thus taken

up before adjournment, these minutes must be read at

the following meeting before the reading of the later

minutes. If it is desired to approve the minutes without

having them read, it is necessary to suspend the rules for

this purpose.

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Page 457 of RONR deals with not reading the Minutes. However, the Minutes should be sent out prior to the meeting (so memebers can read them) and the Minutes must still be approved and corrections offered. RONR does not state anything that I can find stating that a motion to dispense with the reading of the Minutes is in order. However, a memeber has the right to require the Minutes being read.

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RONR does not state anything that I can find stating that

a motion to dispense with the reading of the Minutes is in order.

What do you mean

"RONR does not state ... that a motion to dispense with the reading of the minutes is in order"?

RONR says

By a majority vote without debate, the reading of the minutes can be “dispensed with”

Thus

If RONR says

"Minutes can be dispensed with by (a.) a majority vote; and (b.) without debate"

then RONR is saying

"It is in order to dispense with the minutes, via #a plus #b."

Right?

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I disagree that a motion to dispense with the reading of the minutes requires that they be read later.

"... if it is not thus taken up before adjournment, these minutes must be read at the following meeting..." - p. 547, l. 3-5.

It it my interpretation that when RONR says "dispense with," it refers to "Reading and Approval of the minutes." I don't believe RONR ever refers to "dispensing with" the mere reading of minutes. RONR separates Reading from Approval through either 1)Suspending the Rules, or 2) Sending draft minutes with the notice. I don't believe the term "dispense" is intended to cause a separation at all; it is intended to "delay" both reading and approval.

RONR suggests that when minutes have been distributed to the members in writing, that the assembly may dispense with their reading by unanimous consent. It is permissible to dispense with their reading completely in this case.

In keeping with my interpretation, you'll notice that p. 575, l. 9-19, in outlining this procedure never uses the word, "dispense."

But you are quite correct that what may not be dispensed with is the approval of the minutes. This should take place whether the minutes have been read out loud or not.

This, along with the reading, is precisely what is delayed, when an assembly chooses to "dispense with," as used on pages 456-457. The reading and approval of minutes may be delayed to the next meeting, where they MUST be read (and approved), thought he actual reading can be skipped, by either of the two forms posted above, and found on page 457.

If the group has not been approving the minutes, and if this approval has not been recorded in the minutes of each subsequent meeting, then they have some work to do.

Absolutely, and it seems that the group doesn't understand the importance of the minutes as the official record. I can see how groups may feel that the minutes are just a news report of what happened last meeting, but they should realize that they are much more than that. They are the official record of what was done at the meeting, and they only become that when they're approved.

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What do you mean

"RONR does not state ... that a motion to dispense with the reading of the minutes is in order"?

RONR says

Thus

If RONR says

"Minutes can be dispensed with by (a.) a majority vote; and (b.) without debate"

then RONR is saying

"It is in order to dispense with the minutes, via #a plus #b."

Right?

Sorry, I should have said "is not in order." My mistake. Thank you for pointing that out to me.

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I disagree that a motion to dispense with the reading of the minutes requires that they be read later. RONR suggests that when minutes have been distributed to the members in writing, that the assembly may dispense with their reading by unanimous consent. It is permissible to dispense with their reading completely in this case.

"Dispense with the Reading of the Minutes" is a term of art in parliamentary law, and just as Mr. Tesser said, it means that the reading of the minutes is delayed. It is comparable to the motion to Lay on the Table. See RONR, 10th ed., pg. 456, line 33 - pg. 457, line 6. While it is correct that when the minutes have been distributed in advance the minutes are not read unless requested, this is not referred to as "dispensing" with the reading of the minutes.

Don't worry, I've made the same mistake myself. :)

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Can a motion to dispense with the reading of the minutes be done at every general meeting and board meeting?

If so, we usually appoint 3 members who were in attendance at the previous meeting to read for approval?

 

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Can a motion to dispense with the reading of the minutes be done at every general meeting and board meeting?

If so, we usually appoint 3 members who were in attendance at the previous meeting to read for approval?

Guest Secretary, this probably should be posted as a new topic, but it's close enough to the subject of this thread that I'll go with it.

 

I think you are misunderstanding the purpose of the motion to dispense with the reading of the minutes.  The purpose of the motion is not to do away with the reading and approval of the minutes by the assembly, but rather to just postpone it until later in the same meeting, perhaps until after the program if there is a guest speaker or some other item of pressing business that should be taken up first.

 

If your intent is to create a committee to approve the minutes, then a motion should be made to do just that:  to appoint a committee to approve the minutes of a particular meeting.  If this is going to be done on a regular basis, you should adopt a rule to that effect.  There can be a standing committee appointed for this purpose.  It is also better to create the committee that will be approving the minutes at the same meeting for which they will be approving the minutes so that they can report at the next meeting that the minutes were approved.  In other words, do it before the meeting is adjourned, not at the following meeting (unless you have a standing committee for approving the minutes).

 

Edited to add:  Earlier in this thread Gary Tesser and others point out the correct use of the motion to dispense with the reading (and approval) of the minutes.

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Guest Secretary, this probably should be posted as a new topic, but it's close enough to the subject of this thread that I'll go with it.

 

That looks to me like a good general rule of thumb for piggybacking posts.

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"Dispense with the Reading of the Minutes" is a term of art in parliamentary law, and just as Mr. Tesser said, it means that the reading of the minutes is delayed. It is comparable to the motion to Lay on the Table. See RONR, 10th ed., pg. 456, line 33 - pg. 457, line 6. While it is correct that when the minutes have been distributed in advance the minutes are not read unless requested, this is not referred to as "dispensing" with the reading of the minutes.

Don't worry, I've made the same mistake myself. smile.gif

[D]o not be afraid to make an occasional mistake either while you are learning or after you become a proficient parliamentarian.  A new member of the House of Commons once asked a senior member, 'How can I learn the rules?' and was promptly told, 'By breaking them.'

Joseph F. O'Brien

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Guest Secretary, this probably should be posted as a new topic, but it's close enough to the subject of this thread that I'll go with it.

 

That looks to me like a good general rule of thumb for piggybacking posts.

 

No, it's not. Especially not after five years.

Nah.  I think it's fine regardless of how much time has elapsed.  It fits in perfectly with the thread and shows that guest Secretary had actually been researching his/her question on here and found a thread which seemed to perfectly fit his question.  (I'm gonna stick to he, him and his until told otherwise).  It seems like a perfect follow up.  But, regardless, it hardly seems like anything to get all worked up over.  I'm fine with it being here.  It's as good a fit as I've ever seen and far better than most.  In fact, it's just about a perfect fit.   I've got bigger things to worry about than whether our guest should have started a new thread for this question.

 

FWIW, most similar forums prefer that follow up questions that are related to an existing thread or topic posted in an existing thread rather than starting a new one.  I think we are the odd ones out on this forum for preferring that every new question be posted as a new topic.

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Nah.  I think it's fine regardless of how much time has elapsed.  It fits in perfectly with the thread and shows that guest Secretary had actually been researching his/her question on here and found a thread which seemed to perfectly fit his question.  (I'm gonna stick to he, him and his until told otherwise).  It seems like a perfect follow up.  But, regardless, it hardly seems like anything to get all worked up over.  I'm fine with it being here.  It's as good a fit as I've ever seen and far better than most.  In fact, it's just about a perfect fit.   I've got bigger things to worry about than whether our guest should have started a new thread for this question.

 

FWIW, most similar forums prefer that follow up questions that are related to an existing thread or topic posted in an existing thread rather than starting a new one.  I think we are the odd ones out on this forum for preferring that every new question be posted as a new topic.

 

Please click here.

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No, it's not. Especially not after five years.

 

Acknowledged that you don't think it is.

 

Please click here.

 

So now we have clicked *here*, and we see the advice, guidance, or instruction that Guest_Secretary should have followed, and for whatever reason, did not; which is assuredly beside the point, because at issue is not what Guest Secretary shouild have done, which is now neither here nor there; but whether Mr. Brown should have followed the custom on this message board and requested/advised Secretary to post a new topic (which, IIRC, Mr. Brown himself has done occasionally), wasting everyone's time (I myself skimmed through the 2010 posts, noticing that they were old, and I'm probably not the only one) jumping over to a new thread.  We're here already  And I agree with Mr. Brown, and I'll hold that the 2010 discussion perhaps enlightened the subject -- for that matter, anything Tim Wynn and Gary Novosielski wrote five years ago is worth rereading now.

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 And I agree with Mr. Brown, and I'll hold that the 2010 discussion perhaps enlightened the subject -- for that matter, anything Tim Wynn and Gary Novosielski wrote five years ago is worth rereading now.

My thoughts, exactly, which is why I made the decision to respond here rather than insist that guest Secretary start a new topic in which all of the preceding and relevant comments in this thread would have been missed or would have to have been repeated.  I bet everyone reading this thread again today, or especially for the first time today, learned from it and learned more than they would have learned if guest Secretary had posted her question as a new topic.  I'm still glad I did it this way.  If we don't have anything better to do in this forum than snipe at each other about whether a question should have been posted as a new topic, we're in real trouble when it comes to posting answers that are actually helpful to people.  I decided to stick with it here in large part specifically because of the earlier discussion.  No regrets.

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Our women's group does the same, as the secretary begins to read the minutes, a member will make a motion to dispense with the reading of the minutes and it passes. However, we do not come back later to the minutes.   We do provide a copy of the minutes at the hospitality table so should that motion be corrected to say  "dispense with the reading of the minutes and approve them as distributed/printed"?  And is this accepted by majority vote?  If someone opposes, must they be read?

 

Thanks for any input!

 

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Our women's group does the same, as the secretary begins to read the minutes, a member will make a motion to dispense with the reading of the minutes and it passes. However, we do not come back later to the minutes. We do provide a copy of the minutes at the hospitality table so should that motion be corrected to say "dispense with the reading of the minutes and approve them as distributed/printed"? And is this accepted by majority vote? If someone opposes, must they be read?

As has been explained several times in this thread, the meaning of the phrase "dispense with the reading of the minutes" in RONR does not mean to do away with the reading of the minutes altogether. Instead, it means to delay the reading and approval of the minutes until a later time, usually later in the same meeting. After such a motion has been adopted, a member would later move to read the minutes.

To approve the minutes without reading them is the standard procedure when copies of the draft minutes have been distributed in advance - no motion is necessary. As is the case when the minutes are read, no motion is necessary for the approval of the minutes, and the procedure is the same whether or not a motion to approve the minutes is made.

The chair asks if there are any corrections to the minutes. Corrections are generally adopted by unanimous consent, but a majority vote is sufficient if there is disagreement. After any corrections are handled, the chair declares the minutes approved without a vote. A single member may demand that the minutes be read prior to approval.

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