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Guests and Debate

Guest Sharon Colley

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Are non-member guests at meetings allowed to enter the debate? They cannot vote, but can they ask questions and offer comments? If they can, where is this stated in RONR? Thank you.


The rules may be suspended to allow a nonmember to speak in debate. (RONR 11th ed., p. 263 footnote)

Mr. Huynh is correct, at least as far as entering into debate, but it is my understanding that with the permission of the chair or by majority vote guests can be allowed to address the assembly as long as they are not entering into debate on an issue.  I think this permission would include asking questions.  Here is what I believe is a pertinent provision from pages 96 and 97 of RONR re guests speaking at a meeting:


"Similarly, in some private organizations such as church councils, parishioners may be permitted to attend. These attendees are not members of the meeting body and ordinarily have no right to participate. Some bodies, especially public ones, may invite nonmembers to express their views, but this is done under the control of the presiding [page 97] officer subject to any relevant rules adopted by the body and subject to appeal by a member. Often, by rule or practice, time limits are placed on speakers and relevance is closely monitored."

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