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Lori Lukinuk

Reaffirming motion

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Not sure if a discussion on a motion to reaffirm has been discussed before.  I searched it and can't find what I am looking for.

RONR 11th ed., states on page 104 l. 24-31 that if a motion to reaffirm failed, it would create an ambiguous situation.  If this situation did happen in an organization, is the original motion still in effect and the defeated reaffirming motion null and void?  or Is there an ambiguous situation where there are two conflicting motions and the situation needs to be rectified?  If the former is true all is good.  If the later is true, what process can the organization use to rectify the situation?

 

Edited by Lori

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The point of the cited provision is that motions to reaffirm are not in order. It sounds like you're describing a situation, though, where one was made and voted down (and no point of order was timely raised). I think the answer is as the text says - there's an ambiguous situation. How to resolve the ambiguity? That's the hard part, which is why RONR warns against getting into this situation. My guess is the only real resolution is to move to rescind - if the motion to reaffirm failed on anything other than a tie vote, it's likely the motion to rescind will carry and you'll be out of the ambiguous situation. If it fails, well, who knows.

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I'd say the former: the original motion is unaffected. The motion to reaffirm that was lost has no effect whatsoever (the same as any motion that was lost)

To be clear, though, my answer would be the same if the reaffirmation was adopted: the original motion would still be unaffected. It would continue to be in force. (That's my argument against reaffirming motions: They're a waste of time)

If that's not want the assembly wants, then a motion to Rescind is appropriate. Of course, it is quite possible that the Rescission would also be lost, even if it's with notice and only requires a majority vote.

Edited by Atul Kapur
added last clause

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I agree Atul.  In my opinion the original motion is still in effect.  I find RONR unclear because of the statement " and if such a motion to reaffirm failed, it would create an ambiguous situation."  Either the reaffirming motion is null and void, or there is an ambiguous situation.  I lean towards null and void.  

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lol ... I like your answer also.  That's why I asked the question.😵 I'm torn.  I lean towards the original still being in effect as it has not been rescinded.  Some in the organization feel the defeat of the motion to reaffirm in essence rescinded the original motion.  My opinion is ... No it didn't, it is still alive and well.  Unless I hear a clearer answer on this forum.  My advice will be that in my opinion the motion to reaffirm was not in order and the original motion in still in effect.  If someone in the organization wishes to, they can give notice of a motion to rescind the original motion which would require a majority vote to adopt at the next meeting.  

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1 hour ago, Joshua Katz said:

Well, Dr. Kapur's answer makes sense, but mine is in the book, so I guess we're facing an ambiguous situation. 

“Motions to "reaffirm" a position previously taken by adopting a motion or resolution are not in order. Such a motion serves no useful purpose because the original motion is still in effect; also, possible attempts to amend a motion to reaffirm would come into conflict with the rules for the motion to Amend Something Previously Adopted (35); and if such a motion to reaffirm failed, it would create an ambiguous situation.” (RONR, 11th ed., pg. 104)

RONR notes that “voting down a motion or resolution that would express a particular opinion is not the same as adopting a motion expressing the opposite opinion, since—if the motion is voted down—neither opinion has been expressed.” (RONR, 11th ed., pg. 105) As an example, the text notes that defeating a motion to “support” a position does not mean the assembly opposes the position. By the same token, it seems that defeating a motion to “reaffirm” a position is not the same as rejecting the position. The assembly has simply decided not to reaffirm the position.

So I do not think that the parliamentary situation is ambiguous. The original motion remain in effect. I think what the text means is that the situation is confusing for the members of the assembly. Indeed, while I think they are ultimately incorrect, I fully understand why some members feel that the original motion is canceled. This seems consistent with the rest of the language in the “wording of a main motion” section, which is concerned less with parliamentary rules and more with guidance on wording motions clearly.

Edited by Josh Martin

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Guest Zev
1 hour ago, Josh Martin said:

I think what the text means is that the situation is confusing for the members of the assembly.

I think the confusion is caused by the wording of this sentence by suggesting that an ambiguity actually exists. The solution is to rewrite this sentence and make clear that the motion is out of order and if it is admitted then its effect is nil regardless of the vote.

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Thank you Josh.  I like your explanation.  Guest Zen, I agree a rewrite to the RONR sentence that suggests there is ambiguity would be helpful for future clarity on this situation.

 

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1 hour ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

The fact that adoption of a motion to reaffirm serves no useful purpose does not mean that rejection of such a motion will not create an ambiguous situation. It will.

Dan, what do you think this means for the original question? If an organization does, in fact, defeat a motion to “reaffirm” a motion previously adopted, what is the parliamentary situation and what steps (if any) must be taken to resolve it?

Edited by Josh Martin

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I'm late to this party, but in my opinion, if the original motion has not been rescinded, it remains in effect. I see nothing ambiguous about that.  To me it is clear that if a motion to reaffirm fails, the original motion has not been rescinded and therefore remains in effect. There might be some confusion among the members as to the new situation, but from a parliamentary standpoint the previous motion has not been rescinded.

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3 hours ago, Josh Martin said:

Dan, what do you think this means for the original question? If an organization does, in fact, defeat a motion to “reaffirm” a motion previously adopted, what is the parliamentary situation and what steps (if any) must be taken to resolve it?

As usual, a great deal will depend upon the specific facts and circumstances in any particular case. Frequently, I suppose, an issue will arise at some later time which requires a determination as to whether or not the rule, policy, decision, or whatever it was which the assembly refused to reaffirm is still controlling, in which event the assembly will need to make a decision one way or the other, usually by use of the point of order, ruling, and appeal process.

 

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Guest Zev

I must admit that this one passed over my head. I fail to understand it. If a motion is still in effect no reaffirmation changes that and no point of order/ruling/appeal will change it. If a motion is no longer in effect no reaffirmation will resurrect it and no point of order/ruling/appeal will cause any motion to be adopted. What did I miss?

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The issue has arisen once again.  This has been ongoing for many years (over 10).  The organization is divided.  Some believe the defeated reaffirming motion in essence overturned (rescinded) the original motion.  Others believe the defeated reaffirming motion did nothing and the original motion is still in effect.  Unfortunately, I don't believe RONR is clear on a solution.  If the reaffirming motion was not in order in the first place, but there was no point of order at the time of the breach, does RONR say the defeated reaffirming motion still stands as does the original motion therefore creating the ambiguity?    Therefore a process as you suggest Dan, of, point of order (as this issue is ongoing), ruling, and likely an appeal, would be the way to rectify the situation. 

Edited by Lori Lukinuk

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16 hours ago, Lori Lukinuk said:

The issue has arisen once again.  This has been ongoing for many years (over 10).  The organization is divided.  Some believe the defeated reaffirming motion in essence overturned (rescinded) the original motion.  Others believe the defeated reaffirming motion did nothing and the original motion is still in effect.  Unfortunately, I don't believe RONR is clear on a solution.  If the reaffirming motion was not in order in the first place, but there was no point of order at the time of the breach, does RONR say the defeated reaffirming motion still stands as does the original motion therefore creating the ambiguity?    Therefore a process as you suggest Dan, of, point of order (as this issue is ongoing), ruling, and likely an appeal, would be the way to rectify the situation. 

It seems to me that the facts, as you present them, make it rather clear that the rejection of the motion to reaffirm has created an ambiguous situation, with some members believing one thing and others believing something else.

As previously noted, if an issue arises which requires a determination as to whether or not whatever it was that the assembly refused to reaffirm is still controlling, the assembly will have to decide who's right, ordinarily by the point of order, ruling, and appeal process.

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Guest Zev
1 hour ago, Lori Lukinuk said:

The issue has arisen once again.  This has been ongoing for many years (over 10).  ...  Unfortunately, I don't believe RONR is clear on a solution.

Well, I thought I had contributed a potential solution. Apparently not. Sorry. Nevertheless, an influential individual is right next to you. Perhaps you can suggest a textual change that would clear up this matter and he can get the authorship team to incorporate that change in the next edition and all of us will be better off for it.

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I appreciate everyone's contributions and knowledge.   I trust and concur with Dan's perspective and will advise the organization accordingly.   Also if Dan feels this is something that requires clarification in  the 2020 edition of RONR, I'm sure he will take a look.  

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I don't like to keep repeating myself, but I do think it is important to note that, in dealing with questions of this nature, the answer often depends upon the specific facts and circumstances involved in the particular case. Here we are dealing in generalities, not with specific facts, and in my opinion this is what gives rise to this notion that what RONR says in this regard requires some clarification. 

RONR says that motions to "reaffirm" (by the way, please note that these motions come in a number of different forms and varieties) are not in order, pointing out, among other things, that rejection of such a motion creates an ambiguous situation. That this is, in fact, generally the case seems to be clearly evidenced by what few facts we have been given here.

What I find surprising is that we are told that the vote which rejected this motion to "reaffirm" (in whatever form it took) took place over 10 years ago, but apparently the association has not as yet been forced to decide for itself the effect of this rejection. 

 

 

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Is it in order to be confused about the confusion?  Referring to RONR, 11th ed, pg 104, ll 24-25, "Motions to 'reaffirm' a position previously taken by adopting a motion or resolution are not in order."  This is clear.  The following lines are a discussion as to why they are not in order, including a statement that if such a motion were to fail, "it would create an ambiguous situation". (ll 30-31).  This final clause in the explanatory sentence is observational about the possible effects of a particular (banned) action.  The body failed to agree to a motion.  Therefore, it did nothing.  (The fact that the motion itself was out of order is immaterial to this situation as a matter of parliamentary law.) Unfortunately, not everyone understands this.  I believe that achieving clarity is the body's need at this point.

In many cases, the rule regarding out-of-order behavior is that the point of order needs to be raised immediately.  The exception being if the behavior creates a continuing breech.  Given that people are confused about the situation (just as predicted), then I would argue that a continuing breach is most certainly in evidence.  Therefore, a point of order against the motion to reaffirm could be raised now.  I would advise that you inform the body that should the point be sustained, that you intend to follow it by a motion to rescind the previous motion.  (Of course, there are notice provisions to be observed if you want the vote to be by majority vote--and you do!)  You then have a ruling (perhaps with a majority vote) that the motion to reaffirm was out of order, and therefore null, followed by a majority vote to rescind (which finally kills the original motion), or a failed vote to rescind, which clarifies that the original motion is still effective.  That might not satisfy the question as to when the original motion became ineffective in the minds of some, but at least you can answer the question starting the point of order.

But PLEASE do not try to rescind the motion to reaffirm.  It might fail....

I think that if you package the POO and the R as seeking clarity, you can probably get the POO sustained.

 

 

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8 minutes ago, Nathan Zook said:

Given that people are confused about the situation (just as predicted), then I would argue that a continuing breach is most certainly in evidence. 

I disagree. Continuing confusion is not a continuing breach (if it were, most organizations would have continuing breaches at all times). The breach here was the act of considering the motion, and that's one for the history books (particularly since the out of order motion failed). 

 

9 minutes ago, Nathan Zook said:

followed by a majority vote to rescind (which finally kills the original motion), or a failed vote to rescind, which clarifies that the original motion is still effective.  That might not satisfy the question as to when the original motion became ineffective in the minds of some, but at least you can answer the question starting the point of order.

I agree that the right move, given that a majority didn't want to "reaffirm" the statement, is to take up a motion to rescind, which either will be adopted, or not, and that rescinding the (not adopted) motion to reaffirm is both out of order and nonsensical.

On the rest, I don't think I completely disagree, but I think the text is clear - it creates an ambiguous situation. Why the text felt compelled to mention that fact is interesting, but it doesn't make the text go away. And, for what it's worth, I think even the sophisticated member is not just confused, but has a good point in asking how a position taken by the organization is still in effect after the vote to reaffirm failed. That is, I don't think the result of the failure of such a vote is just confusion - I think there's a reasonable case (at least where the motion to reaffirm did not fail on a tie vote) that something material actually happened. I don't think the text  says ambiguity is created because members might be confused, but because the organization will have now voted in a manner incompatible with a previous vote, but without using one of the established motions that bring a matter again before the assembly. I think the text is recognizing that, in fact, the members have, through their votes, expressed something about their desires, and it was not "keep this statement in effect." But what it was is, well, ambiguous.

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25 minutes ago, Joshua Katz said:

...

That is, I don't think the result of the failure of such a vote is just confusion - I think there's a reasonable case (at least where the motion to reaffirm did not fail on a tie vote) that something material actually happened. I don't think the text  says ambiguity is created because members might be confused, but because the organization will have now voted in a manner incompatible with a previous vote, but without using one of the established motions that bring a matter again before the assembly. I think the text is recognizing that, in fact, the members have, through their votes, expressed something about their desires, and it was not "keep this statement in effect." But what it was is, well, ambiguous.

Really?  But I always vote against out-of-order motions--and I have a lot of friends that looked to me on that vote!

There is no way to divine the intent of the body beyond counting the votes.  Especially if it happened ten years ago.

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On 2/23/2019 at 1:42 PM, Daniel H. Honemann said:

It seems to me that the facts, as you present them, make it rather clear that the rejection of the motion to reaffirm has created an ambiguous situation, with some members believing one thing and others believing something else.

As previously noted, if an issue arises which requires a determination as to whether or not whatever it was that the assembly refused to reaffirm is still controlling, the assembly will have to decide who's right, ordinarily by the point of order, ruling, and appeal process.

Do you view the situation as ambiguous by parliamentary law, or in the minds of the society?  If in law, why does the discussion in RONR, 11th ed, pg 105, ll 15-23 not apply to this case?

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6 hours ago, Nathan Zook said:

Do you view the situation as ambiguous by parliamentary law, or in the minds of the society?  If in law, why does the discussion in RONR, 11th ed, pg 105, ll 15-23 not apply to this case?

Okay, for the third and last time, I'll say again that, in dealing with questions of this nature, the answer often depends upon the specific facts and circumstances involved in the particular case.

Mr. Zook, are you telling us now that the rejected motion to "reaffirm" being discussed in this thread was a motion "that would express a particular opinion" such as that referred to on page 105, lines 15-23? If this is true, then I agree that its rejection is not the same thing as adopting a motion expressing the opposite opinion, but I think that, in order to help us understand why it is, in substance, a motion "that would express a particular opinion" you will need to give us its exact wording. 

By the way, up above somewhere you say the following: "The body failed to agree to a motion.  Therefore, it did nothing." I respectfully disagree. Rejection of a motion is a significant action taken by the assembly; it is a decision not to do whatever it is that the motion proposes.

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8 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

Okay, for the third and last time, I'll say again that, in dealing with questions of this nature, the answer often depends upon the specific facts and circumstances involved in the particular case.

Mr. Zook, are you telling us now that the rejected motion to "reaffirm" being discussed in this thread was a motion "that would express a particular opinion" such as that referred to on page 105, lines 15-23? If this is true, then I agree that its rejection is not the same thing as adopting a motion expressing the opposite opinion, but I think that, in order to help us understand why it is, in substance, a motion "that would express a particular opinion" you will need to give us its exact wording. 

By the way, up above somewhere you say the following: "The body failed to agree to a motion.  Therefore, it did nothing." I respectfully disagree. Rejection of a motion is a significant action taken by the assembly; it is a decision not to do whatever it is that the motion proposes.

To be clear, I'm trying very hard to understand your reasoning, as I've repeatedly found it to be incisive. I categorically agree that details are often the crux of questions of this nature--and that we lack them.  You stated that an ambiguous situation was created.  I am trying to understand what you mean in this regard.

Yes, I don't know what else a "motion" to "reaffirm" would be, if not expressing a particular opinion--namely that this assembly agrees with the prior one.

"The body failed to agree to a motion.  Therefore, it did nothing.":  Yes, I was overly brief in that.  Certainly, the actions matter insofar as they must go in the minutes, and that the failed motion cannot be brought up in the same session, & etc.  I was referring to the situation external to the motion itself.  Perhaps it is better to say "the assembly has accomplished nothing".  A motion to give money to a cause fails--the society has accomplished nothing.  A motion to endorse an issue or candidate fails--the society accomplishes nothing.  And so forth.

Let's try to be more specific. 

Case 1)  Suppose the original motion was "to give $1000 annually to support the ongoing operations of X."  A couple of years later, someone proposes a motion to "Reaffirm that we give $1000 annually to support the ongoing operations of X"--and it fails.  To me, when the motion to reaffirm failed, "nothing happened" in the sense that the club continues to give $1000 annually.

Case 2) Suppose the original motion was to endorse a political candidate.  Press releases go out.  Suppose two months later, a "motion" to "reaffirm" the endorsement fails.  Again, I do not contemplate new press releases going out.

Of course, there will be a lot of folks who will be confused, and to me, it is for this reason that the ambiguity is said to exist.  To me, the parliamentary situation is unambiguous--but not in the minds of the members.

Note also that my prior line about "always voting against out of order motions" is not just making a point.  Protest voting is a very real thing.  I am personally very much of a mind to vote against all out-of-order motions, and I often draw 10% or more of the assemblies that I am a part of.

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