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Adopting a Standing Rule by a 2/3 Vote


Willie Watson
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An interesting thing happened at our regularly scheduled meeting last month that I would like to have a comment on. Our program Committee introduced a main motion during its committee report. The motion was a purposed standing rule which had application only outside of our meetings and could possibly inflame passions.  The committee also stated that the proposed standing rule was to be adopted by a 2/3 vote.  I then raised a point of order,  primarily that a standing rule according to RONR was to be adopted by only a majority vote (with a few exceptions noted therein that the proposed standing rule did not quality for). My point of order was sustained by the chair. So I have a three part question:  (1) In your opinion was the decision to sustain my point of order correct, 2) could  some member have moved  to suspend the rules so that a 2/3 vote adopted the proposed standing rule, and 3)If the proposed standing rule was adopted by a 2/3 vote and we wanted to rescind it next year, then what would be the vote needed to rescind it? Thank you very much for your patience and input!

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Assuming your Standing Rule was indeed some sort of administrative rule (p. 18): (1) your point was well taken and correctly sustained (more accurately, "ruled on") by the chair; (2) yes, he could have but it would have required a 2/3 vote  to suspend the rule, so there might not be much point to it; (3) majority would do it (with notice, see p. 305ff.), it make no difference what vote was required for the initial adoption.

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Can one of you guys then explain why if we suspend the rules and adopt the proposed standing rule  by a 2/3 vote, then why something greater than a 2/3 vote is not required to rescind it later. I am reading the last paragraph in RONR, p. 1i and here is the quote

Another important principle is that, as a protection against instability—arising, for example, from such factors as slight variations in attendance—the requirements for changing a previous action are greater than those for taking the action in the first place.

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I suppose one response is that since the standing rule didn't need or require a 2/3 adoption threshold in the first place, there is no call to require a threshold that is higher still to rescind it. 

This discussion is a fine example of how one can go right off the rails when departing from RONR's standard rules.  You (nothing personal!) adopted a not-standard rule (requiring 2/3 for a Standing Rule), even though only on a temporary basis, so you have to live with the consequences of how to rescind it. You departed from the rule-book; you have to take it from there.

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1 hour ago, Willie Watson said:

Can one of you guys then explain why if we suspend the rules and adopt the proposed standing rule  by a 2/3 vote, then why something greater than a 2/3 vote is not required to rescind it later. I am reading the last paragraph in RONR, p. 1i and here is the quote

Another important principle is that, as a protection against instability—arising, for example, from such factors as slight variations in attendance—the requirements for changing a previous action are greater than those for taking the action in the first place.

Suspension of the rules to require a two-thirds vote for the adoption of a standing rule which otherwise would require only a majority vote for its adoption does not change the character of the rule being adopted in any respect. It's still a standing rule, and suspension of the rules in order to require a two-thirds vote for its adoption does not also somehow suspend the rules required for its subsequent rescission or amendment.

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