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Peter J. Vedro

Discharge from Committee

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The Executive & Legislative committee has not acted on a motion submitted to it over several meetings.  At a full Board Meeting, I made a motion to "Discharge from E&L Committee my primary motion (in this case to establish an ad-hoc committee of the Board to engage an outside agency to review recent actions of hiring and firing which may be inappropriate.)  At the full Board meeting the motion to "discharge responsibility for the primary motion" from the E&L committee to the full Board was voted in favor 19-12.  (After a 10 minute break, another supervisor called for a motion to reconsider the previous action, which failed 12/19).  Because of Wisconsin's Open Meeting Law, the primary motion could not be discussed until properly "noticed" (which meant it would be agendized for the next month.)  There is a confusion as WHAT exactly will be put on the agenda!  Some seem to think that the motion to "discharge" will be on the agenda; others believe we already voted (19/12 to "discharge") and that what should appear on the agenda is the primary motion removed from E&L  committee ("to establish an ad-hoc committee of the Board to engage an outside agency to review recent actions of hiring and firing which may be inappropriate." 

Please clarify!

Respectfully,

Peter J. Vedro

Sauk County Wisconsin Supervisor, District #15

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I think the answer to your question would depend on the requirements of Wisconsin's Open Meeting Law. Interpretation of such requirements is beyond the scope of this forum.

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Thank you for responding--the WI Open Meetings Law merely requires that whatever is on the agenda needs to be posted 24 hours in advance.  My motion was to "discharge from Committee" a specific MOTION--that was approved by the Board 19/12 and a motion to reconsider that action was defeated 19/12.  So it is obvious the full Board want "ownership" of the primary motion and voted it OUT OF COMMITTEE.  I believe some are trying to deny that fact by making it seem we did NOT do what we actually did by a vote of 19/12 (!) They will argue the vote was simply to put on the agenda a motion to discharge--but we already took that vote as a full Board.  What should be on the agenda is the actual primary motion REMOVED from the committee--at least that's how I understand it.

Peter

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1 minute ago, Peter J. Vedro said:

Thank you for responding--the WI Open Meetings Law merely requires that whatever is on the agenda needs to be posted 24 hours in advance.  My motion was to "discharge from Committee" a specific MOTION--that was approved by the Board 19/12 and a motion to reconsider that action was defeated 19/12.  So it is obvious the full Board want "ownership" of the primary motion and voted it OUT OF COMMITTEE.  I believe some are trying to deny that fact by making it seem we did NOT do what we actually did by a vote of 19/12 (!) They will argue the vote was simply to put on the agenda a motion to discharge--but we already took that vote as a full Board.  What should be on the agenda is the actual primary motion REMOVED from the committee--at least that's how I understand it.

Peter

Presuming 19 affirmative votes is a majority of the entire membership of your board of directors and there is no conflict with the Wisconsin Open meetings law, the motion to discharge a committee - without previous notice - was adopted. See RONR (11th ed.) pp. 310 - 315. Also, according to Standard Descriptive Characteristic #8  (p.312), at the time, reconsideration was not in order.

If counsel advises that there was a conflict with the Wisconsin's Open Meetings Laws, follow counsel's advise regarding compliance with Wisconsin law.

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Based solely upon what has been posted, it certainly appears as if the motion which was declared to have been adopted by a vote of 19 in favor and 12 opposed was, in fact, a motion that the E & L Committee be discharged from further consideration of the motion which had previously been referred to it (the motion to establish an ad-hoc committee). 

Assuming that there is nothing in applicable law to the contrary, this motion to discharge the committee appears to have been validly adopted. As far as the rules in RONR are concerned, a vote of 19 in favor and 12 opposed would be sufficient to adopt this motion if either (i) previous notice of intent to make the motion was properly given, (ii) there are less than 38 members on the board, or (iii) if the E & L Committee had failed to report within a prescribed time as instructed (there is at least a hint that this may have been the case), but even if none of these things is true, the motion has nevertheless been validly adopted since no point of order concerning the insufficiency of the vote was raised promptly at the time when it was declared to have been adopted.

I don't know how, when or by whom this dispute as to whether the vote which was taken was a vote on the motion to discharge the committee or simply a vote on whether or not to put it on the agenda for the next meeting will be resolved. Apparently it must be resolved somehow at least 24 hours in advance of the next board meeting. I'm afraid that nothing in RONR will be of any assistance in this regard, since as far as RONR is concerned, if there is to be an agenda for a meeting, it must be adopted at that meeting.

 

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Recall that the motion to discharge, when applied to a motion that was referred to a committee (as opposed to a main motion to refer a subject to a committee), has as part of the effect of its adoption to make the discharged question pending. No extra procedural steps exist or are necessary for immediate consideration of the motion to begin.

Now, as you mentioned that because of an applicable law about notice of motions, the matter was not taken up immediately. This seems sensible if there was any doubt as to the appropriateness of taking it up immediately, although I would advise in the future that the notice of the motion to discharge should also include notice that the original motion might subsequently be considered, to avoid any confusion.

Now, Robert's Rules doesn't, to my knowledge, contemplate a position where a motion validly before an assembly becomes subject to a notice requirement, but it seems to me that the parliamentary situation is most similar to when a motion is moved, seconded, stated, and then forgotten: the matter becomes unfinished business for the next meeting. As a result, I would say that the correct procedure is for the original motion to be included as unfinished business. It does not need to be moved or seconded, because those steps were already taken. When its turn comes up on the agenda, the chair should simply restate the motion and resume debate.

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