Jump to content
The Official RONR Q & A Forums

Using the term "table"


Impapergirl
 Share

Recommended Posts

For years, when I attend our city council, county commission or school board meetings, it is standard procedure they all use the terminology "to table" a matter, when they wish to postpone the subject to the next meeting. I am on the City's Chamber of Commerce board, and when it was moved to table a matter, one member opposed stating "there is no such thing as tabling" in Robert's Rules of Order. Since we loosely follow proper guidelines, is it acceptable to follow protocol all other local boards have set?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Agreeing with Mr. Huynh and with the answer to FAQ # 12, the Chamber board member is correct:  There is technically no such thing as "tabling"  or to "table" something in RONR.  If it is in fact desired to set something aside temporarily in order to take up something else more pressing, such as interrupting the consideration of a motion in order to allow the guest speaker, who just arrived, to make his presentation, the proper motion is to "Lay on  the Table", not to "table".

However, the motion to lay on the table (or to "table") is usually misused and is used when the correct motion is to "postpone" to a definite time or date, usually to the next meeting.  The public bodies you mentioned are misusing the motion, but that is not uncommon with public  bodies.  In my area (a city just outside New Orleans), the most common term used for postponing something is to "defer" it.   The only time my city council uses the term "postpone" is when they want to postpone something indefinitely.... which actually kills the motion without a direct vote on the merits.   Occasionally a council  member will correctly move to postpone something to the next meeting, but that's unusual.  They almost always use the term "defer", which RONR frowns upon on page 149.   btw, committees of the Louisiana Legislature use the term "defer" in place of postpone, too. I guess it's a hard habit to break.

Here is what RONR says about it on page 149:  "The subsidiary motion to Postpone to a Certain Time (or Postpone Definitely, or Postpone) is the motion by which action on a pending question can be put off, within limits, to a definite day, meeting, or hour, or until after a certain event. (The expression "to defer" should be avoided, since it is often [page 180] subject to vague usage.)"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, Impapergirl said:

For years, when I attend our city council, county commission or school board meetings, it is standard procedure they all use the terminology "to table" a matter, when they wish to postpone the subject to the next meeting. I am on the City's Chamber of Commerce board, and when it was moved to table a matter, one member opposed stating "there is no such thing as tabling" in Robert's Rules of Order. Since we loosely follow proper guidelines, is it acceptable to follow protocol all other local boards have set?

If your friends wanted to jump off a bridge, would you want to jump off a bridge?  🙂

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Who's Coming to Dinner
3 hours ago, Impapergirl said:

… when it was moved to table a matter, one member opposed stating "there is no such thing as tabling" in Robert's Rules of Order.

A wise and charitable chairperson will rephrase a motion "to table" as a motion to postpone (to the next meeting, etc.) That clears up the misuse and provides a bit of education by example without calling anyone on the carpet. Or off a bridge.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree  with the suggestion by GWCTD.  In fact, RONR actually suggests as much on  page 39 where it says as follows:  "When a member who has legitimately obtained the floor offers a motion which is not in order, the chair may be able, in certain instances, to suggest an alternative motion which would be in order and would carry out the desired intent to the satisfaction of the maker."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 hours ago, Impapergirl said:

I am on the City's Chamber of Commerce board, and when it was moved to table a matter, one member opposed stating "there is no such thing as tabling" in Robert's Rules of Order. Since we loosely follow proper guidelines, is it acceptable to follow protocol all other local boards have set?

 

1 hour ago, Guest Who's Coming to Dinner said:

A wise and charitable chairperson will rephrase a motion "to table" as a motion to postpone (to the next meeting, etc.) That clears up the misuse and provides a bit of education by example without calling anyone on the carpet. Or off a bridge.

The important question, Impapergirl, is how your board handles the motion to "table" to the next meeting. If you treat it as a motion to Postpone -- that is, it's debatable and amendable -- then it makes perfect sense to proceed as GWCtD recommends: the chair should state the motion using its proper name. From your description that they're tabling to the next meeting, then this sounds like the intent.

If, however, your group is using "table" and deeming that it is not debatable (similar to "Lay on the Table"), then there's more of a problem and more specific education is advisable.

I understand the desire on the part of some to be "not so strict" but operating correctly can and should be done easily without being officious.

Edited by Atul Kapur, PRP "Student"
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...