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Changes to motion after notice is given


JamesMcLean
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I'm aware that once a motion is moved, it belongs to the assembly, and cannot be unilaterally changed by a smaller group, such as the original mover.  (Insert obligatory comment about the non-existence of friendly amendments, as an example.)

In cases when previous notice is required, such as for Bylaws amendments, can changes be unilaterally made after notice is given, but before the motion to amend is introduced?

I suspect that considerations of scope may apply here.  Let us assume, for the current question, that the changes under contemplation are within the scope of the original notice.

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3 hours ago, JamesMcLean said:

I'm aware that once a motion is moved, it belongs to the assembly, and cannot be unilaterally changed by a smaller group, such as the original mover.  (Insert obligatory comment about the non-existence of friendly amendments, as an example.)

In cases when previous notice is required, such as for Bylaws amendments, can changes be unilaterally made after notice is given, but before the motion to amend is introduced?

I suspect that considerations of scope may apply here.  Let us assume, for the current question, that the changes under contemplation are within the scope of the original notice.

Yes, the scope of the notice is a critical consideration especially for bylaws amendments.  But if changes are offered that are clearly within the scope of the original notice, then there is little doubt that these would be in order.

However, here you're referring to changes to the motion before it is moved, so the question becomes, is the motion that was made actually the motion for which notice was given?  I suspect that the answer to this question may depend closely on the exact contents of the motion. The best way to avoid the issue, of course, is to move the motion exactly as noticed, and then offer amendments to it.

But I think if the mover made changes to the motion that were within the scope of the original motion notice, it could be argued that the motion was in order.  Those who dispute this would be free to raise a Point of Order, subject to Appeal, which would allow the particulars of the case to be considered. 

Stay tuned for other opinions.

Edited by Gary Novosielski
as noted
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I'd say it would depend on the details of the notice.

If the notice gave the exact words of the proposed bylaw amendment, then "No" is my answer.

If the notice is still informative but doesn't give exact words (which it should in my view) then "Yes" is my answer.  RONR, page 596, line 27 says that "fairly inform" is adequate notice.

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Wouldn't it matter by what means notice was given? One means is to give the general subject - surely in that case there's no issue. On the other hand, the other method is to give the precise language of the motion, in which case it would seem to me that even changes within the scope of notice would not be permitted - of course, the member could simply not make the noticed motion, and give notice of the newly-desired motion for a later date. Alternatively, the member could make the motion as noticed, and then move to amend - or, preferably, seek unanimous consent to change it, to emphasize what is going on. If the new motion had any chance of passing, the assembly would probably not object. 

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1 hour ago, Gary Novosielski said:

Stay tuned for other opinions.

I agree and I agree with the other responses.  If the previous notice is general, there should be more latitude to introduce a slightly different motion that is still within the scope of the original notice.  But, if the exact language of the intended motion is given, there is less wiggle room... and maybe none at all.  But, as others suggested, the motion can be introduced as originally noticed and then an amendment moved which is still within the scope of notice.   As Mr. Katz said in the post immediately above mine, the same member who moved (introduced) the original motion can also introduce the proposed amendment and can do so almost immediately as he has the right to speak first on his motion.  

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I see no reason why a motion cannot be offered that differs from, but is within the limits of, the one for which notice was given, as Mr. McLean has suggested is the case. If this happens, any subsidiary motion to amend will be in order which is within the permissible bounds of the notice given, and not just within the bounds of the motion made.

Perhaps specific examples might prove to be helpful.

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I suppose it is conceivable that the motion as made could fall so far short of the motion for which notice was given that a subsidiary motion to amend, although within the scope of notice given, would not be germane to the motion actually made. In such an event, the desired result could be obtained by the making of a separate main motion, since such a motion would still be within the scope of the notice given.

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I thank everyone for the reminder that previous notices need not give explicit wording, which I had forgotten to consider.

However, what I had in mind was changes in elements of the motion that were clear in the notice.  (Otherwise, no one would know that changes had been made, and the question would never arise!)  It seems that could occur either in the case when the notice contains the exact wording of the motion (as required for Bylaws amendments, p.593 ll. 7-11), or when the notice contains not the exact wording but specific elements (example: notice to raise dues to $30, followed by a motion to raise dues to $29).

At this point I count the opinions as 2 for, 1 maybe, and 2 against.  How palindromic!

I was interested to find (p. 297 ll. 20-23) that a previous notice cannot be withdrawn without unanimous consent. (I have no idea how to apply "after is it too late for renewal" in l. 22.).  Although pp. 295-298 do not specifically mention modification of a notice, they seem to be treating withdrawal and modification in the same way.  So I think I will veer to the safe side, and assume that modifications should be introduced as amendments when the motion takes place; little seems to be lost with that approach.

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The question asked, as I understand it, was:

In cases when previous notice is required, such as for Bylaws amendments, can changes be unilaterally made after notice is given, but before the motion to amend is introduced, assuming that the changes under contemplation are within the scope of the original notice.

I'm not sure how the responses which have been posted can be characterized as "2 for, 1 maybe, and 2 against", but in any event, as I indicated, I think the answer is yes.

As I understand the facts provided, no attempt to withdraw the notice which was given is involved.

 

 

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5 minutes ago, Joshua Katz said:

I'm also not sure which answers are being counted for which, but keep in mind that numbers don't tell the full story. If my answer conflicts with Mr. Honemann's, you should listen to him.

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Mr. Katz.  🙂

However, I must hasten to add that there appears to be no clear-cut answer to be found in RONR, and I'm not at all prepared to say that there should be no doubt but that my take on this is the correct one. 

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1 hour ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

However, I must hasten to add that there appears to be no clear-cut answer to be found in RONR, and I'm not at all prepared to say that there should be no doubt but that my take on this is the correct one. 

Well, should it arise when I am consulting with an organization (it hasn't yet), I would intend, at least until convinced otherwise, to give the opinion I expressed above. But if an organization asked my honest opinion about who best to consult with, I think the answer would be clear. Here, questioners have the benefit of both of our answers - and I am happy to disagree with you and debate in theory, but when it comes to a practical answer, I think it is fair for me to defer. 🙂

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On 7/6/2018 at 2:16 PM, Daniel H. Honemann said:

I suppose it is conceivable that the motion as made could fall so far short of the motion for which notice was given that a subsidiary motion to amend, although within the scope of notice given, would not be germane to the motion actually made. In such an event, the desired result could be obtained by the making of a separate main motion, since such a motion would still be within the scope of the notice given.

I have to ask this, but could you give an example?

I'm having a difficult time seeing an amendment that is within scope, but not germane to the question.

 

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4 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

I'm not sure how the responses which have been posted can be characterized as "2 for, 1 maybe, and 2 against", but in any event, as I indicated, I think the answer is yes. 

Extracting those opinions relating to the situation when the full text is in the notice, which is essentially what I had in mind for the original question (as explained), we have:

FOR Gary Novosielski: "it could be argued that the motion was in order"
FOR Daniel H. Honemann: "I see no reason why a motion cannot be offered that differs from..."
MAYBE Richard Brown: "if the exact language of the intended motion is given, there is less wiggle room... and maybe none at all"
AGAINST jstackpo:  'notice gave the exact words ... then "No" is my answer.'
AGAINST Joshua Katz: "even changes within the scope of notice would not be permitted"

Of course, I understand that this tally does not account for gradations of authority.  Joshua, thanks for guiding me in that, since I am just starting to be familiar with individuals on this forum.

5 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

As I understand the facts provided, no attempt to withdraw the notice which was given is involved.

Correct, that was not in my original question.  I brought up withdrawal only because of the strong parallel drawn on pp. 295-298 between withdrawal and modification by the mover.  Since there appears to be no clear-cut answer to be found in RONR, I was switching to analysis by analogy.  That is also why I phrased my final sentence as a selection of a course of action, rather than a statement about an absolute rule.

The analogy between withdrawal and modification by the mover does seem to be a strong one, considering that they both hinge on the question of "ownership" of the motion.  Is anyone aware of a situation where one is permitted and the other is not?

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22 minutes ago, J. J. said:

I have to ask this, but could you give an example?

I'm having a difficult time seeing an amendment that is within scope, but not germane to the question.

 

Notice might be given to amend Article X, "Committees", by striking out Sections 3 and 4 (which create two different committees having nothing to do with each other), and the motion actually made may be to strike out only Section 3.

 

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3 hours ago, JamesMcLean said:

Correct, that was not in my original question.  I brought up withdrawal only because of the strong parallel drawn on pp. 295-298 between withdrawal and modification by the mover.  Since there appears to be no clear-cut answer to be found in RONR, I was switching to analysis by analogy.  That is also why I phrased my final sentence as a selection of a course of action, rather than a statement about an absolute rule.

The analogy between withdrawal and modification by the mover does seem to be a strong one, considering that they both hinge on the question of "ownership" of the motion.  Is anyone aware of a situation where one is permitted and the other is not?

There is no problem between the analogy between withdrawal and modification of a motion by the mover (and no, there is not a case where one is permitted and the other is not). The problem is in the analogy between withdrawing (or modifying) a motion and between withdrawing (or modifying) a notice, or alternately (as the original question asked) making a motion which differs in some respect from what is included in the notice. At this time, no motion has as of yet been made, so there is not yet a motion for anyone to own.

A notice may not be withdrawn if it is too late for another member to give notice. By the same token, one assumes that a notice may not be modified if it is too late for another member to give notice. The reason for this is that doing so limits other members’ rights to make the motion or to make amendments to it. If someone was able to withdraw a notice after it was too late for notice to be given, no member could then make the motion in question (or perhaps the voting threshold would be raised, depending on the specifics). Similarly, if a member gives notice that he intends to make a motion to raise dues to $50, but then modifies the notice to raise dues only to $40, no member could amend the motion, when it is made, to strike $40 and insert $50. (Conversely, increasing the amount of dues would also be problematic, as this would allow members to suggest a modest change and then “sneak in” a larger change with less than the required amount of notice, and this seems to be improper for the same reason that such an amendment would be improper at the meeting itself.) As a result, these practices are prohibited.

The question that was asked, however, did not ask whether a member could change the notice, but instead asked whether a member could make a motion which differed from the notice. If a member gives notice that he will move to raise dues to $50, but then decides to move to raise dues only to $40, this does not affect other members’ rights in any way. The proposed motion is itself within the scope of the notice given, and members are also free to themselves propose to amend the motion to strike $40 and insert $50, since this amendment is still within the scope of notice. Additionally, so far as I am aware, there is no rule which requires that a motion be made exactly as stated in the notice.

Based on all this, I am inclined to agree with Mr. Honemann that a member may make a motion which differs from the notice given, so long as the motion is within the scope of notice.

Edited by Josh Martin
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2 hours ago, Josh Martin said:

The question that was asked, however, did not ask whether a member could change the notice, but instead asked whether a member could make a motion which differed from the notice. If a member gives notice that he will move to raise dues to $50, but then decides to move to raise dues only to $40, this does not affect other members’ rights in any way. The proposed motion is itself within the scope of the notice given, and members are also free to themselves propose to amend the motion to strike $40 and insert $50, since this amendment is still within the scope of notice. Additionally, so far as I am aware, there is no rule which requires that a motion be made exactly as stated in the notice.

 

I disagree. If the motion is made as noticed, it will take a majority to reduce the number to 40. If it is made for 40, it will take a majority to increase it to 50. If I did not go because I was comfortable with a motion for 50 being put up (perhaps I am confident it will fail, and that there will not be a majority to reduce it to 40), I do not have the opportunity to vote on the different question now presented - i.e. to vote in favor of increasing it to 50. If both votes would have exactly half support, this is a difference that will impact the outcome.

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1 hour ago, Joshua Katz said:

I disagree. If the motion is made as noticed, it will take a majority to reduce the number to 40. If it is made for 40, it will take a majority to increase it to 50. If I did not go because I was comfortable with a motion for 50 being put up (perhaps I am confident it will fail, and that there will not be a majority to reduce it to 40), I do not have the opportunity to vote on the different question now presented - i.e. to vote in favor of increasing it to 50. If both votes would have exactly half support, this is a difference that will impact the outcome.

In theory, however, the member is suppose to know that an amendment to the proposed motion within scope is in order.

In other words, if the current amount is 10 and notice is given to increase that to 50, the member is suppose to know that any number greater than 10 but not greater than 50 would be in order and could be adopted. 

Another member may assume that there will not be a quorum and that the increase could not be adopted.  If there is a quorum, his assumption was wrong, but that would not invalidate anything that meeting did.

In theory, the members are suppose to know that an a motion requiring notice can be amended within scope of notion. 

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3 minutes ago, J. J. said:

In theory, however, the member is suppose to know that an amendment to the proposed motion within scope is in order.

 

Yes, but they're also supposed to know that the rules for amendment will apply, which is the point I'm trying to make. If you allow it without following those rules, you are not doing what absentees expect.

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1 minute ago, Joshua Katz said:

Yes, but they're also supposed to know that the rules for amendment will apply, which is the point I'm trying to make. If you allow it without following those rules, you are not doing what absentees expect.

This is within the rules, however.  The assembly does not have to do what the absentees. It, in some cases, must give them fair warning of what could happen.   The absentee knows that with the notice of an increase from 10 to 50, the result will be something between 10 and 50, inclusive.   If we wants to make that it remains at 10, he better show up.

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4 minutes ago, J. J. said:

This is within the rules, however. 

That's precisely what's at issue here. You're saying it's within the rules, but as was pointed out above, it's not clear in the text. I am saying it's not within the rules. The resolution must involve something other than saying absentees are on notice because it's permitted.

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46 minutes ago, Joshua Katz said:

That's precisely what's at issue here. You're saying it's within the rules, but as was pointed out above, it's not clear in the text. I am saying it's not within the rules. The resolution must involve something other than saying absentees are on notice because it's permitted.

If you are talking about the text of RONR, p. 595 covers it sufficiently.   

If you are taking about something in the notice that indicates the motion is amendable, the members are suppose to consult RONR for that inform.

Let's assume that two different motions are proposed. One rescinding a plane vanilla main  motion, while the other is a special rule of order.  The first, in this circumstance,  may be adopted by majority vote. The second requires, in this circumstance a two-thirds vote or a majority of the entire membership.  You don't have to inform the members of that difference.

The member could assume that the special rule requires only a majority vote, and he is sure it will get that majority.  He favors the motion, but is sure that the special rule will get a majority.   It fails, but gets a majority vote.  Can the member legitimately say, "The notice should have told me that a majority vote was not enough?"  No.

The member must make some effort to understand the process.  At a meeting, he Parliamentary Inquiry, be he chose not to attend.  He could get a copy of RONR and read it.  He could ask someone, the president, a knowledgeable member, a professional parliamentarian or look on the Internet, especially this site.  Ignorance of the rules is no excuse.

With the caveat that the bylaws.

Put me down as "FOR."

 

Edited by J. J.
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3 hours ago, Joshua Katz said:

I disagree. If the motion is made as noticed, it will take a majority to reduce the number to 40. If it is made for 40, it will take a majority to increase it to 50. If I did not go because I was comfortable with a motion for 50 being put up (perhaps I am confident it will fail, and that there will not be a majority to reduce it to 40), I do not have the opportunity to vote on the different question now presented - i.e. to vote in favor of increasing it to 50. If both votes would have exactly half support, this is a difference that will impact the outcome.

I am not convinced by this idea that absentees (even unusually confident ones) have any rights at all with respect to the process by which  the motion is considered, even though this could affect the outcome in limited circumstances. It seems to me that whether the motion is made as $40 and then amended or made as $50 and then amended makes no difference at all with respect to the rights of absentees, so long as $40 and $50 are within the scope of notice.

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3 hours ago, J. J. said:

Let's assume that two different motions are proposed. One rescinding a plane vanilla main  motion, while the other is a special rule of order.  The first, in this circumstance,  may be adopted by majority vote. The second requires, in this circumstance a two-thirds vote or a majority of the entire membership.  You don't have to inform the members of that difference.

 

I agree - you don't have to tell them about this difference because that's the rule, and if they look it up, they will know what the notice means.

3 hours ago, J. J. said:

 The member could assume that the special rule requires only a majority vote, and he is sure it will get that majority.  He favors the motion, but is sure that the special rule will get a majority.   It fails, but gets a majority vote.  Can the member legitimately say, "The notice should have told me that a majority vote was not enough?"  No.

 

Agreed.

 

3 hours ago, J. J. said:

 The member must make some effort to understand the process.  At a meeting, he Parliamentary Inquiry, be he chose not to attend.  He could get a copy of RONR and read it.  He could ask someone, the president, a knowledgeable member, a professional parliamentarian or look on the Internet, especially this site.  Ignorance of the rules is no excuse.

 

Agreed, but we're still talking in circles. The question is what the rule is - saying "they should know the rule" doesn't resolve the matter. What notice was the member given? That a motion will be introduced for 50. Was that motion introduced? No, a different motion was introduced. Did the member have notice of that one? On its face, clearly not. But the argument here, which, granted, seems to be the majority view, is that there is some sort of implied notice, because what could have happened, instead, is that the motion that was noticed could have been made, and it could then have been amended. Fine - so do that. But, you will say, that's mindless formality unless there is a substantive difference. I agree - and there is, in fact, a substantive difference. One requires the majority to act, the other does not - the other gives the member who gave notice the power to unilaterally change his motion, which he could not do after he made it.

So, let me ask you a question. When an original main motion is made, without notice at all, and is before the assembly, the mover may not modify it. No one could possibly have taken any action in reliance on the motion not being changed except by a majority vote, yet still he can't do it, only the assembly can, because it belongs to the assembly. What sense would it make to impose this stricture, yet in the case of notice - which is done precisely so that (when exact language is used) people will know what motion is to be made - allow the member to unilaterally change the motion? Yes, you can point to a formal difference, but I'm asking what the logical difference would be. I say it wouldn't make sense. Or, to put it another way - just as a motion, when made, is owned by the assembly, not the mover, so too notice, when made, is owned by the assembly - which is why anyone, not only the person who gave notice, may make the motion and gain the advantage of notice.

None of which is to say that I'm definitively right. I don't think the answer is clear, as Mr. Honemann noted. I'm just saying that the answer is not "know the rules."

3 hours ago, Josh Martin said:

I am not convinced by this idea that absentees (even unusually confident ones) have any rights at all with respect to the process by which  the motion is considered, even though this could affect the outcome in limited circumstances. It seems to me that whether the motion is made as $40 and then amended or made as $50 and then amended makes no difference at all with respect to the rights of absentees, so long as $40 and $50 are within the scope of notice.

Well, I don't think this argument is obviously wrong, but I also don't think it's obviously right. I think we both could find support for our respective positions in the various sources, and none either way in RONR, at least on its face. But it really, I think, comes down to the underlying question. Whether the motion is made and then amended, or simply made as amended, makes a difference as to the rights of absentees if and only if introducing it as amended is permitted.

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7 hours ago, Joshua Katz said:

Well, I don't think this argument is obviously wrong, but I also don't think it's obviously right. I think we both could find support for our respective positions in the various sources, and none either way in RONR, at least on its face. But it really, I think, comes down to the underlying question. Whether the motion is made and then amended, or simply made as amended, makes a difference as to the rights of absentees if and only if introducing it as amended is permitted.

Yep, non-existent rules cannot affect the rights of absentees, but this truism tells us nothing at all about whether or not rules which do exist affect the rights of absentees. 

If (as I believe to be the case), under the rules in RONR a member who gave notice of his intent to make a motion to amend something previously adopted is permitted to make a different motion so long as it falls within the scope of the notice given, this can in no way violate the rights of absentees anymore than does the rule which allows subsidiary amendments to be made so long as they make no change going beyond the scope of the notice given.

In other words, although it may be that I'm wrong (although I'm becoming more and more convinced that I'm not) and that, under the rules in RONR, a member who gave notice of his intent to make a motion to amend something previously adopted is not permitted to make a different motion even if it falls within the scope of the notice given, the rights of absentees have got nothing at all to do with it. 

 

 

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