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DaisyMae

Discussion prior to a motion

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I am chair of a local planning commission. One member of our commission is requesting that, once we close the public hearing, we allow discussion among the commission members PRIOR to a motion. Our municipal code clearly states that the current version of Roberts Rules of Order are to be followed by our governing body and all other boards and commission. Our legal counsel is also not comfortable allowing discussion prior to a motion - mostly due to the code requirements, I believe. This issue raises its head about once every six months. I have heard of other commissions and groups allowing this but the issue is whether the discussion remains germain to the subject at hand. In any given hearing we can be looking at several action items. Any thoughts?

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It appears your commission is following the rules for regular assemblies, and not for small boards and committees, therefore see RONR (11th ed.), p. 34, l. 7ff, which basically states discussion of any subject is permitted only with reference to a pending motion. Procedural rules found in the applicable municipal codes that conflict with what RONR says would take precedence, by the way.

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I am aware, but had quite honestly forgotten, that a more informal procedure is allowed in smaller (fewer than 12 members) boards. My concern is that, since we are quasi-judicial and must adhere to strict rules of evidence, which indicates to me a more structured, formal proceeding, that we should be following rules for regular assemblies. Code simply states that meetings shall be conducted in accordance with the latest edition of Roberts Rules of Order.

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I am aware, but had quite honestly forgotten, that a more informal procedure is allowed in smaller (fewer than 12 members) boards. My concern is that, since we are quasi-judicial and must adhere to strict rules of evidence, which indicates to me a more structured, formal proceeding, that we should be following rules for regular assemblies. Code simply states that meetings shall be conducted in accordance with the latest edition of Roberts Rules of Order.

If you're following the regular rules, and it seems that you are, the cited passage applies.

Edited by George Mervosh

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