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Richard Tatara

Preface to a motion

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The constitution and bylaws (C&BL) of our religious assembly state that the agenda for the general assembly meeting must be set one week in advance by a council made up of leaders of each of the main boards that manage the church business. The C&BL further states : Any new business not on the agenda will be at the will of the Voters Assembly. If an assembly member wants to bring business forward that is not on the agenda, we believe the right way to do this is for the member to make a motion requesting that the assembly consider hearing new business that is not on the agenda. My question is: when making such a motion, to what degree is it appropriate for the maker, as a persuasive tactic, to state some or all of the aspects of their intended new business motion, either in the preface statement or in the body of the motion requesting the assembly consider new business? If the motion to consider new business is seconded and approved, the assembly would then hear the new business motion in its entirety following standard rules for consideration. 

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In my opinion (but what do I know, I'm not a member) your  "at the will of the assembly" rule is fair under the circumstances, but what it means in details will be up to your organization to decide.  RONR has no such requirements for advance preparation of an agenda or limits as to what can be brought up in new business so has no answers to your question.

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I agree with Dr. Stackpole. As a practical matter, and for procedural purposes, I would be inclined to treat the request to take up a matter not on the agenda as a motion to amend the agenda. As such, I believe the matter to be taken up (or added to the agenda) should be specified.

I'm confident there are also other ways of doing it. 

Edited by Richard Brown
Typographical corrections

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I think Mr. Tatara wants to know if a preamble is proper in this motion, which is an interesting question since it seems to me like this more of a motion to suspend the rules and take up the matter the maker wants introduced.  I don't know the answer to that question.

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Richard Brown has offered good advice: take the matter up as a motion to amend the agenda. My question still remains: to what degree can a maker of such a motion use either the preface or the main body of said motion to persuade the assembly to consider amending the agenda?

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5 minutes ago, Richard Tatara said:

My question still remains: to what degree can a maker of such a motion use either the preface or the main body of said motion to persuade the assembly to consider amending the agenda?

Well, if it is handled as a motion to amend an adopted agenda, the amendment is debatable, so I would recommend that the member offer the amendment, and when it has been seconded, address why they think the item should be included.

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35 minutes ago, Richard Tatara said:

Richard Brown has offered good advice: take the matter up as a motion to amend the agenda. My question still remains: to what degree can a maker of such a motion use either the preface or the main body of said motion to persuade the assembly to consider amending the agenda?

I don’t think this is appropriate at all. I concur with Mr. Goodwiller that the member should offer his reasons in debate. The motion to amend the agenda should simply state the manner in which the agenda is to be amended. Preambles are really only appropriate for main motions (and even then, very rarely). See RONR, 11th ed., pgs. 106-108 for more information on preambles.

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Perhaps we don't have a clear understanding of what Mr. Tatara means when he speaks of a "preface to the motion".  I took it to mean that he is wondering if the request to consider a motion not on the agenda should state the nature of the motion. I think it absolutely should and that is what I think I said.  I never intended for anyone to take my comment as a suggestion that the motion actually be debated prior to its introduction.  I took his question to be whether it is even appropriate to state the nature of the motion.

I fully agree that a motion to amend the agenda, or a motion to have the assembly take up a motion not on the agenda is debatable and the debate is the time to give the reasons in support of the motion.

I disagree with George Mervosh only in one limited way:  I don't view this  as a motion to suspend the rules because the rules of the organization already provide that a matter not on the agenda can be taken up with the consent of the assembly.

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1 hour ago, Richard Brown said:

I disagree with George Mervosh only in one limited way:  I don't view this  as a motion to suspend the rules because the rules of the organization already provide that a matter not on the agenda can be taken up with the consent of the assembly.

Oh I'm not willing to bet the farm on it but "Any new business not on the agenda will be at the will of the Voters Assembly." seems like one of those rules that provides for its own suspension.

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2 hours ago, SaintCad said:

Doesn't RONR allow for a short preface before introducing a motion? 

If no motion is pending, no, I do not think so. If a debatable motion is pending, a member could speak in debate and conclude his remarks by making a motion.

RONR also permits members to make brief explanations for an undebatable motion, but it seems the motion should be made first - RONR says this is done while the undebatable motion is pending. (RONR, 11th ed., pg. 396)

RONR also says that there may sometimes be brief informal consultation to assist in the framing of a motion, but it looks like the member already knows what he wants to do, he just wants to persuade the assembly. This is properly done after the motion is made. (pgs. 395-396)

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15 hours ago, SaintCad said:

I was thinking of p 34 l 9-10

“Under parliamentary procedure, strictly speaking, discussion of any subject is permitted only with reference to a pending motion. When necessary, a motion can be prefaced by a few words of explanation, which must not become a speech; or a member can first request information, or he can indicate briefly what he wishes to propose and can ask the chair to assist him in wording an appropriate motion. In general, however, when a member has obtained the floor while no motion is pending—unless it is for a special purpose, such as to ask a question—he makes a motion immediately.”

So yes, it would seem that the member may preface the motion with a few words of explanation, if necessary.

If this is a debatable motion to amend the agenda, I would argue that this is not necessary, as the member can offer his explanation in debate. If Mr. Mervosh is correct that a motion to Suspend the Rules is required, then I suppose it would be appropriate for the member to briefly explain the motion he intends to offer of the motion to Suspend the Rules is adopted.

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