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Accepting a Motion


Guest Michael E Welsh

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Guest Michael E Welsh

As the president of my Fire Company and a motion is made that could expose the Fire Company 's assist's or be detramental to the organization. Must I accept the motion and a second and let it go to a vote.Or can I state that as the president I am not accepting the motion since the company's assist's will be exposed and could be detramental to the organization.

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You are free to rule the motion out order (that is about the same as "not accepting" it) for whatever reasons you think appropriate.

HOWEVER... your ruling is subject to appeal to the membership present at the meeting. If a majority of the membership, after debate, want to hear the motion, then you can't stop it.

But another "however": there may be legal questions about "exposing ... the 'assist's' " (depending on what you mean) so be ready to argue strongly against hearing the motion.

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Yeah... but I guess I am assuming his reasons for "not liking it" are not personal, but relating to the good and welfare of the Fire Company.

The arguments during an appeal should make this clear.

A less than ideal chair might very well rule a motion "out of order" for personal dislike reasons, but there is no sure way of knowing this until the debate on the appeal. So, as ever, it is up to the membership to be alert.

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Guest Michael E Welsh

A group want to rent the fire company building and grounds and sell liquor as a fund raiser.Our insurance carrier has recommended they carry insurance of $1,000,000 occurance/$2,000,000 aggregate and carry liquor liability for at least $1,000,000 and an umbrella policy would also be helpful for the 3 day event.

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As the president of my Fire Company and a motion is made that could expose the Fire Company 's assist's or be detramental to the organization. Must I accept the motion and a second and let it go to a vote.Or can I state that as the president I am not accepting the motion since the company's assist's will be exposed and could be detramental to the organization.

"In principle, the chair must state the question on a motion immediately after it has been made and seconded, unless he is obliged to rule it out of order or unless, in his opinion, the wording is not clear." RONR (11th ed.), p. 39, ll. 8-11. This does NOT give the chair the authority to decide which motions will come before the assembly. For it to be ruled out of order, there must be some parliamentary basis for the ruling.

However…

"The purpose of an Objection to the Consideration of a Question is to enable the assembly to avoid a particular original main motion altogether when it believes it would be strongly undesirable for the motion even to come before the assembly." - RONR (11th ed.), p. 267, ll. 16-20.

"The presiding officer, on his own initiative, can submit his objection of this kind to a vote…" - RONR (11th ed.), p. 268, ll. 23-24.

So, you can object to the consideration of the question, which puts to an immediate vote the question of whether or not the motion should be allowed to come before the assembly. It requires a two-thirds vote against consideration to sustain the objection.

In summary, you cannot prevent a legitimate motion from being considered, but the assembly can, by a two-thirds vote in the negative.

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Guest Michael E Welsh

A group want to rent the fire company building and grounds and sell liquor as a fund raiser.Our insurance carrier has recommended they carry insurance of $1,000,000 occurance/$2,000,000 aggregate and carry liquor liability for at least $1,000,000 and an umbrella policy would also be helpful for the 3 day event.

This is my concern with regard to exposing the fire company assets in case of a claim for loss at the event.

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For it to be ruled out of order, there must be some parliamentary basis for the ruling.

True, but "parliamentary basis" #5 (p. 113) is mighty broad. "Outside the scope..." is a lot of open space. It gives the chair a tool to rule most anything out of order if he considers it to be in outer space. Using the public building (firehouse) for liquor sales could very well be there.

An appeal should bring him back to solid ground.

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True, but "parliamentary basis" #5 (p. 113) is mighty broad. "Outside the scope..." is a lot of open space. It gives the chair a tool to rule most anything out of order if he considers it to be in outer space. Using the public building (firehouse) for liquor sales could very well be there.

An appeal should bring him back to solid ground.

I don't think we want to steer this president to believe that RONR gives him the authority to rule a motion out of order because it "could expose the Fire Company 's assist's or be detramental to the organization."

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True, but "parliamentary basis" #5 (p. 113) is mighty broad. "Outside the scope..." is a lot of open space. It gives the chair a tool to rule most anything out of order if he considers it to be in outer space. Using the public building (firehouse) for liquor sales could very well be there.

An appeal should bring him back to solid ground.

It's possible that the motion is outside the organization's scope as defined in the Bylaws, in which case the President should rule the motion out of order. I haven't seen the Bylaws, so I can't say for sure. That is, of course, a gray area and the chair's ruling could be appealed and overturned by majority vote - or even if the assembly acknowledges that the motion is clearly outside the scope of the organization, the assembly can consider the motion by a 2/3 vote. This does, however, involve interpreting the Bylaws of the organization (which I have not seen), so I will leave that to the society. I would not agree that this is so broad that it is appropriate for the President to "rule most anything out of order if he considers it to be in outer space."

The bottom line is that for the President to rule the motion out of order the motion must violate some rule, and there is not yet any evidence or even suggestion that this is the case here. It's quite possible there's something we don't know, but based on the facts presented, I agree with Mr. Wynn that the appropriate course of action is for the chair to Object to the Consideration of the Question, since the original poster has stated that the motion could be detrimental to the society but has not suggested that it actually violates any of the society's rules. Since the chair clearly feels that the motion is highly damaging to the society, I might also suggest that this is an instance where his duty as a member outweighs his duties as presiding officer, so if OTC fails the next step would be for him to relinquish the chair and speak against the motion in debate.

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It seems to me that ruling a motion out of order because the chair questions the wisdom of the motion frustrates the basic purpose of moving-seconding-discussing-voting by the assembly. At the most fundamental level, the assembly should decide. That's what debate is for. IF the action would be detrimental to the association, let that be debated. It is after all, a subjective opinion. Why should it prevent the assembly from discussion?

I well appreciate we are discussing possibilities here, wrangling around possible parliamentary techniques and all, and as a casual observer (not a professional) I appreciate the learnin' that I'm a'gittin'.

But post #10 by Tim is spot on, in my humble opinion, and Objection to Consideration of the Question is the only proper way to go here. Ruling this motion out of order and hoping the assembly has the nads & knowledge to appeal the ruling if they really really really want to discuss it borders on the underhanded, IMHO.

Just my 2 cents.

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Objection to the consideration is a possibility, assuming this motion doesn't amend some policy the fire company has in place now regarding the rental of their grounds, and if so, it's not an option. We don't know.

Good point. If that's the case, the chair will have to skip OTC and relinquish the chair to the VP, so he can speak against the motion.

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