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Motion to start a discussion


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A board member wanted to start a discussion regarding a matter she would like to vote on at a later date. She called a motion to start a discussion. Another board member said it was unnecessary to call a motion to discuss. Who is right? When is it appropriate to call for a motion?

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2 minutes ago, Guest Guest said:

Even if it brings new business to the board? 

Under RONR, yes. New business is one of the categories within the standard order of business that is applicable to the meetings of most ordinary societies.

As for a motion to start discussion - such a motion is probably never in order. RONR defines a motion as "a formal proposal by a member, in a meeting, that the assembly take certain action." (my emphasis). Discussion is what happens automatically in deciding whether or not to take that action, and is not an action in and of itself.

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A motion to discuss is out of order. You move to do something. She could, if she wants, make her motion, then move to postpone definitely. But she cannot unilaterally decide that the assembly will not be voting on the matter tonight. Or she can move for a recess, during which it gets discussed.

Regarding your follow-up question, discussion is not business. Business means taking action, so wanting to talk about something without resolution (in my opinion, a useful way to waste time) is not bringing new business, or any business at all, to the board.

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The person could move to refer the subject to a Committee of the Whole, without making a definitive motion to do something, e.g. "I move that a committee of the whole be appointed to consider methods of fundraising." The "committee," which is everyone, could then discuss ideas and perhaps form a motion. 

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14 hours ago, Guest Guest said:

A board member wanted to start a discussion regarding a matter she would like to vote on at a later date. She called a motion to start a discussion. Another board member said it was unnecessary to call a motion to discuss. Who is right? When is it appropriate to call for a motion?

 

13 hours ago, Hieu H. Huynh said:

In small boards, informal discussion is permitted without a formal motion.

I basically agree with Mr. Huynh's answer, which was the first answer given.  This pretty obviously happened at a board meeting   If this is a "small board" of no more than about a dozen members, a discussion without a motion on the floor is perfectly appropriate.  Among the provisions of the the small board rules from page 488:  "Informal discussion of a subject is permitted while no motion is pending."   That language seems plain enough for  me.

In addition, even if this is a larger board or isn't operating under the "small board rules", the rules can be suspended to permit discussion of something without a motion pending.  Such a brief discussion might be appropriate for the purpose of ascertaining if it is something the group wants to pursue and someone can draft an appropriate motion to be introduced at the next meeting. 

As far as to going into a committee of the whole to discuss the matter, yes, sure, that can be done.... but it has been my experience that most ordinary lay organizations don't have the foggiest idea what the committee of the whole is or what it is for or how it operates. 

It seems to me we are making this a whole  lot more complicated than it needs to be.
 

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It is true that in the circumstances noted, informal discussion can occur without a motion pending.  It is also true that a motion to discuss is out of order. 

There is no conflict between these rules, since it it impossible to simultaneously have and not have a motion pending.

Moving to resolve into the Committee of the Whole would work in larger groups, and does not violate the latter rule, since it proposes an action, namely that the Committee develop recommendations to the assembly on a particular subject.  Usually a recommendation is in the form of a proposed motion that the assembly could ignore, approve, modify, reject, or otherwise dispose of.

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