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Voting on a Bylaw Amendment


Sheila T
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A bylaw amendment was up for a vote at our last General Meeting of the membership of our club. The President of the club is the chair of our General Meetings. The bylaw committee chair was called upon by the President to read the amendment up for a vote and then sat back down among the membership (as his duties were complete). As I read Robert's Rules, I understand that only the presiding officer/chair should remain impartial during a large assembly and refrain from making motions but rather call out to the assembly, "The chair will entertain a motion . . . " The bylaw committee chair made the motion to accept the proposed amendment for a vote. It was not brought up until days after the meeting that perhaps the bylaw committee chair should have remained impartial and not made the motion. I would contend that once he read the amendment and fulfilled his duty and subsequently sat back among the membership, he was then considered having the same rights as any other member of the assembly to make a motion. Can you please confirm.

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Actually, at the conclusion of giving his report, the chairman of the bylaws committee should have moved, on behalf of the committee, for the adoption of the amendments. Since it is a committee recommendation, no second is necessary. The committee chairman may also speak in debate in favor of the propieed amendments.  he does not lose that right by virtue of being chairman of the committee.

Edited by Richard Brown
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23 minutes ago, Sheila T said:

A bylaw amendment was up for a vote at our last General Meeting of the membership of our club. The President of the club is the chair of our General Meetings. The bylaw committee chair was called upon by the President to read the amendment up for a vote and then sat back down among the membership (as his duties were complete). As I read Robert's Rules, I understand that only the presiding officer/chair should remain impartial during a large assembly and refrain from making motions but rather call out to the assembly, "The chair will entertain a motion . . . " The bylaw committee chair made the motion to accept the proposed amendment for a vote. It was not brought up until days after the meeting that perhaps the bylaw committee chair should have remained impartial and not made the motion. I would contend that once he read the amendment and fulfilled his duty and subsequently sat back among the membership, he was then considered having the same rights as any other member of the assembly to make a motion. Can you please confirm.

It is standard procedure for the committee chair to move a motion coming out of a committee (p. 507). The impartiality requirement refers tothe person presiding over the meeting where the committee report was made, i.e. the president.  

The committee chair, if a member, may fully participate.  He also has preference in recognition for speaking on the motion.

Edited by J. J.
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I agree with all the above. Just to add a few points, RONR notes that some organizations have the practice of allowing the committee chair to act as if he is presiding over the adoption of the recommendations, and says they ought to cut it out (although more elegantly). Importantly, committees are not supposed to be neutral (most of the time). They are supposed to recommend things they think would be good, and to want them to be adopted. Even if the committee chair doesn't personally love the recommendations that come out of committee, he should not speak against them (since the chair, assuming he is reporting, is moving the recommendations). Committee members, though, are free to speak in debate against proposals they happen to dislike (or those they like, I guess, but they wouldn't do that) so long as they make no reference to proceedings in committee. 

Also, while presiding officers do often suggest motions as described in the OP, I personally dislike this practice, and prefer to avoid it for all but the most routine of motions (and, on the most routine of motions, it usually can be done away with and the motion assumed anyway, or, in the most routine case, the chair can simply declare the meeting adjourned when there is no further business). To my mind, "the chair will entertain a motion..." just about always signals formality for its own sake, not a meaningful or useful contribution to the meeting.

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3 hours ago, J. J. said:

It is standard procedure for the committee chair to move a motion coming out of a committee (p. 507). The impartiality requirement refers tothe person presiding over the meeting where the committee report was made, i.e. the president.  

The committee chair, if a member, may fully participate.  He also has preference in recognition for speaking on the motion.

The motion was to accept the proposed amendment; however, I should have typed "adopt the proposed amendment". Does this matter? I refer to the section, Motion to Adopt an Entire Report, which reads quite a bit differently and makes no reference to committee member. Is it by virtue of coming directly from a committee member that our case falls under the section to which you initially referred and not under the section to which I refer where "a motion to adopt the report should be made by someone other than the reporting member and requires a second".

Thanks

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There is a difference between adopting recommendations contained within a report and adopting a report in its entirety. (Although, to be honest, I do not know why RONR says a motion to adopt a report in its entirety should be made by someone other than the reporting member, and I also do not know why it says this about officer reports.) I think we're all proceeding on the assumption that the discussion is about adopting recommendations made by the committee. Adopting a report in its entirety rarely is something that should be done.

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11 hours ago, Sheila T said:

 

The motion was to accept the proposed amendment; however, I should have typed "adopt the proposed amendment". Does this matter? I refer to the section, Motion to Adopt an Entire Report, which reads quite a bit differently and makes no reference to committee member. Is it by virtue of coming directly from a committee member that our case falls under the section to which you initially referred and not under the section to which I refer where "a motion to adopt the report should be made by someone other than the reporting member and requires a second".

Thanks

Mo,it doesn't.  The chair may move, and debate any debatable motion proposed on behalf of a committee.

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The Board of Directors made a motion at their meeting to propose the amendment (referred to above) to the Bylaws which was then submitted to the Bylaws Committee for review.  Is the subsequent motion to adopt the amendment made by the committee chair a main motion, an incidental motion or an incidental main motion, and would it be considered not debatable?

Also, are both the Board's motion to propose an amendment and the Bylaws Committee motion to adopt the amendment motions to Amend Something Previously Adopted?.

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6 minutes ago, Sheila T said:

I have a hard time following myself sometimes. Let me ask this - if the committee chair makes a motion to adopt an amendment is that the same as or different than a motion to amend something previously adopted

As Mr. Katz said, a motion to amend the bylaws is a special form of the motion to amend something previously adopted.  However, it is not usually referred to as a motion to amend something previously adopted, but is referred to simply as a proposed bylaw amendment. It is treated just like any other main motion, but is usually subject to special notice and vote requirements for adoption.

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20 hours ago, Joshua Katz said:

I'm not sure if I follow your question entirely, but a motion to amend the bylaws is a special form of the motion to amend something previously adopted. It is a main motion, and is debatable.

"A motion to adopt (or accept or agree to) an officer's or a committee's report or recommendations which the assembly (by means of a main motion) directed the officer or committee to prepare is an incidental main motion."(p. 124)

Can I not interpret this as applying to my case and conclude that the committee chair's motion is an incidental main motion?

 

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12 minutes ago, Sheila T said:

"A motion to adopt (or accept or agree to) an officer's or a committee's report or recommendations which the assembly (by means of a main motion) directed the officer or committee to prepare is an incidental main motion."(p. 124)

Can I not interpret this as applying to my case and conclude that the committee chair's motion is an incidental main motion?

As noted previously, a motion to amend the bylaws is a special form of a motion to Amend Something Previously Adopted, which is itself an incidental main motion, so it’s an incidental main motion regardless.

Why do you ask?

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16 minutes ago, Sheila T said:

 Can I not interpret this as applying to my case and conclude that the committee chair's motion is an incidental main motion?

 

Well, I said main motion, not original main motion ;-). So far as I know, there was no main motion which the assembly referred to the committee. The board, it is true, is an assembly, but not the assembly (from what I understand) which is currently considering the recommendation. But it is a form of the motion to amend something previously adopted (the bylaws) which is an incidental main motion. It remains debatable, which I think was your actual question.

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8 minutes ago, Joshua Katz said:

Well, I said main motion, not original main motion ;-). So far as I know, there was no main motion which the assembly referred to the committee. The board, it is true, is an assembly, but not the assembly (from what I understand) which is currently considering the recommendation. But it is a form of the motion to amend something previously adopted (the bylaws) which is an incidental main motion. It remains debatable, which I think was your actual question.

Wow! Thanks so much for clarifying on the origination of a main motion in connection to an incidental main motion.

And lastly on this entire matter, I guess I am getting hung up on the exact rules of debate. That is for another day.

Thanks, again.

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7 minutes ago, Sheila T said:

And lastly on this entire matter, I guess I am getting hung up on the exact rules of debate. That is for another day.

 

Debate on this motion should follow the rules of debate as they would be applied to an original main motion. The topic of debate will be the wisdom, or not, of adopting the change to the bylaws, so discussion of other bylaw provisions will be out of order (except as they relate to this question), etc.

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22 hours ago, Sheila T said:

The Board of Directors made a motion at their meeting to propose the amendment (referred to above) to the Bylaws which was then submitted to the Bylaws Committee for review.  Is the subsequent motion to adopt the amendment made by the committee chair a main motion, an incidental motion or an incidental main motion, and would it be considered not debatable?

Also, are both the Board's motion to propose an amendment and the Bylaws Committee motion to adopt the amendment motions to Amend Something Previously Adopted?.

If I understand what went on, a board member moved a proposed bylaws amendment, and the board referred it to committee. When the committee reports the proposal back to the board, with or without recommendations for changes, it is the same item of business as when it was referred.  You seem to be treating it as two separate motions.  The changes if any would be treated as first- or second-level amendments to the original proposal.  The motion(s) would be fully debatable once they are before the board.  

But I'm not sure from the description how the motion would ultimately be disposed of.  It appears to have ended up before the general membership, but it's not clear to me how that happened.  Did the board subsequently report the motion to the general membership, or does the committee report to the membership?

 

Edited by Gary Novosielski
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30 minutes ago, Gary Novosielski said:

 But I'm not sure from the description how the motion would ultimately be disposed of.  It appears to have ended up before the general membership, but it's not clear to me how that happened.  Did the board subsequently report the motion to the general membership, or does the committee report to the membership?

 

I guess I'm confused about your confusion. It looks straightforward to me - the board adopts a motion saying "we think it would be good to amend the bylaws in this fashion, and ask the bylaw committee to take a look." The committee then takes a look, and makes a recommendation to the membership, which has the power to amend the bylaws.

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1 minute ago, Joshua Katz said:

I guess I'm confused about your confusion. It looks straightforward to me - the board adopts a motion saying "we think it would be good to amend the bylaws in this fashion, and ask the bylaw committee to take a look." The committee then takes a look, and makes a recommendation to the membership, which has the power to amend the bylaws.

Exactly

 

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1 hour ago, Joshua Katz said:

I guess I'm confused about your confusion. It looks straightforward to me - the board adopts a motion saying "we think it would be good to amend the bylaws in this fashion, and ask the bylaw committee to take a look." The committee then takes a look, and makes a recommendation to the membership, which has the power to amend the bylaws.

That's a reasonable conclusion--one which I noted was a possibility.

But nothing I'd seen prior to that clearly indicated to whom the bylaws committee reports, or who could refer things to the committee.  Those two are usually the same body.

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32 minutes ago, Gary Novosielski said:

That's a reasonable conclusion--one which I noted was a possibility.

But nothing I'd seen prior to that clearly indicated to whom the bylaws committee reports, or who could refer things to the committee.  Those two are usually the same body.

Well, yes, Mr. Katz assumed correctly what I failed to clarify in my posts.

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  • 2 months later...

I have a follow up to this thread.  Our Bylaws Task Force presented recommendations to our full  BOD.  The BOD approved all changes recommended.  The full membership now votes on the proposal as recommended by the Board.  

1. Who should put forth the motion?  The Chair of the Task Force is making the presentation and we have him making the motion to approve the changes as recommended by the BOD.   Is that proper?

2. We do a call for a second.  Is that proper?


Thanks!

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Guest Who's Coming to Dinner

It is not only proper, but routine for the chair of a committee to move adoption of the committee's recommendation. It is not proper to call for a second because it is assumed that more than one person in the committee has already advanced the recommendation for consideration.

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