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Tomm

Can it be suspended

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"EFFECT OF A PERIODIC PARTIAL CHANGE IN BOARD MEMBERSHIP"

Can the rule requiring unfinished business to fall to the ground be suspended?

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I suppose, but a cleaner way would be to refer the matter to a special (ad hoc) committee while the "old board" is in place, with instructions to report the matter to the "new board" when it has its first meeting.   Page 489, line 5. 

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1 hour ago, Tomm said:

"EFFECT OF A PERIODIC PARTIAL CHANGE IN BOARD MEMBERSHIP"

Can the rule requiring unfinished business to fall to the ground be suspended?

It's an interesting question that I have wondered about myself.   It would seem, at first glance, that the rule can be suspended as Dr. Stackpole suggested.  RONR is a book of "rules of order" which can usually be suspended unless the book provides otherwise.  I'm not aware of anything in RONR to the effect that the rule, as stated on pages 237 and 488-489  cannot be suspended.  I don't see that it is a fundamental principle of parliamentary law, either.   However, my gut tells me that for reasons unknown to me at the moment that the rule is one that the authorship team believes cannot be suspended.  Since it is a rule of order, it seems that it could be superseded with the adoption of a special rule of order.

So, I anxiously await the opinion of others and especially of the A-Team.

Edited to add  Just hazarding a guess here, I suppose that the rationale for saying the rule cannot be suspended is because, at least in the view of the authorship team, the "old" board ceases to exist upon a routine change in membership, much as a convention ceases to exist when it adjourns sine die.

 

Edited by Richard Brown
Added last paragraph

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I disagree with Dr. Stackpole. The motion to Commit is misused for this purpose and is not in order.

The proper parliamentary action is to renew the main motion at a session of the "new board".

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2 hours ago, Tomm said:

"EFFECT OF A PERIODIC PARTIAL CHANGE IN BOARD MEMBERSHIP"

Can the rule requiring unfinished business to fall to the ground be suspended?

No, rules that have their application outside of the session which is in progress cannot be suspended. The rule to which you refer is a rule affecting the order of business at a subsequent session. 

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30 minutes ago, Rob Elsman said:

I disagree with Dr. Stackpole. The motion to Commit is misused for this purpose and is not in order.

The proper parliamentary action is to renew the main motion at a session of the "new board".

I disagree and I believe Dr. Stackpole got it exactly right when he suggested referring the matter to a special committee with instructions to report at the first meting of the "new" board.  That is  precisely what the text on pages 502-503 suggests:

A special committee—since it is appointed for a specific purpose—continues to exist until the duty assigned to it is accomplished, unless discharged sooner (see 36); and it ceases to exist as soon as the assembly receives its final report. The fact that an annual meeting intervenes does not discharge a special committee. But in a body which ceases to exist or in which the terms of some or all of its members expire at a definite time, like a convention of delegates, a city council, or a board of directors, a special committee expires with the body that appointed it, unless it is appointed expressly to report at [page 503] a later time. If it does not report, its life expires with that of the body to which it was to report."  (Emphasis added)

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The use of the motion to Commit simply to carry a main motion over to the next session when it would otherwise fall to the ground is not consistent with the purpose of the motion found in RONR (11th ed.), p. 168.

While I admit that it might be difficult to discern the misuse of the motion during a meeting, the principle is still there:

1) I would not, as a participating member, make the motion for this purpose; and,

2) I would, as the presiding officer, rule the motion not in order if I were able to determine the purpose for which it was made.

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1 hour ago, Rob Elsman said:

The use of the motion to Commit simply to carry a main motion over to the next session when it would otherwise fall to the ground is not consistent with the purpose of the motion found in RONR (11th ed.), p. 168.

I find this an unnecessarily strict reading of the sentence, which includes the word "generally", indicating that it is not the only acceptable purpose.

"The subsidiary motion to Commit or Refer is generally used to send a pending question to a relatively small group of selected persons—a committee—so that the question may be carefully investigated and put into better condition for the assembly to consider." (p. 168, lines 3-7. Emphasis added)

And, while we're talking about principles, I remind of this principle

"Fundamentally, under the rules of parliamentary law, a deliberative body is a free agent—free to do what it wants to do with the greatest measure of protection to itself and of consideration for the rights of its members." (p. lii)

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In lieu of the misuse of the motion to Commit, in this set of circumstances, any member can simply renew the Main Motion at any session of the "new board".

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1 minute ago, Rob Elsman said:

In lieu of the misuse of the motion to Commit, in this set of circumstances, any member can simply renew the Main Motion at any session of the "new board".

I do not subscribe to the theory that the motion to refer or commit is being misused in this instance or that it is out of order, but I do agree that whatever motion is being referred could also most likely be made again at the first meeting of the "new" board.  However, there can be cases, such as when the motion would require a two thirds vote without notice and proper notice was given while the "old" board had the motion under consideration, it might be hard to give the requisite previous notice for the first meeting of the new board if it meets on a regular published schedule and no "call of the meeting" is issued.   An example could be an organization which elects its "new" board at its annual meeting and the bylaws require the new board to hold its first meeting immediately upon adjournment of the annual meeting. I'm the immediate past president of such an organization... the Louisiana Association of Parliamentarians. 

Regardless, I believe the language I quoted a few posts above from pages 502-503 of RONR makes it plain that the motion to refer to a special committee is an appropriate use of the motion and a permissible way of carrying business over from the outgoing board to the incoming board.  We have been responding to that effect on this board for a long time.

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I just have two observations. First, I'm fairly convinced that, from a practical perspective, the best solution is to simply make the motions again. Why? Because one of our goals in meetings should be to avoid making the rules look silly, and suspending the rules or moving to commit, then having to explain the circuitous route you've chosen, instead of just making the motions again, doesn't seem to achieve that goal. 

Second, if I'm not mistaken, the NAP exams have questions that can only be answered by using commit as a way of keeping a motion alive when it otherwise couldn't be. That is, of course, far from determinative, but it is a data point as to what people are being told, and what some people are taking from the text. I tend to think this use of commit is unwise but permitted. That's because, as you know, I abhor formality for its own sake, and because I dislike the phrase "the motion will have to be made again," which to me makes it sound like this is some difficult chore. In fact, I dislike most stringency around the making and seconding of motions - a dislike I think is reflected in RONR in a few places. So long as people know what is proposed, and know how to vote on it, and we're not wasting time, I'm satisfied. Anyway, I generally think (but do not say, because it sounds weird) that the motion can be made again, i.e. this is an opportunity, not a chore. In my head, every rule keeping a motion alive has one primary effect - preventing other motions on the same issue from being made. 

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For those who are interested, the matter of previous notice has been lurking silently behind the scenes in the colloquy between Mr. Brown and myself. My own sense of it is that misusing Commit to circumvent the requirement of previous notice is neither proper nor in order. The new members have a right to that notice, and it should be given. The sticky wicket is that main motions that have properly been referred to committee for valid reasons can be reported to the new board for action without previous notice being given.

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The same problem arises with respect to motions where the vote requirement depends on whether previous notice has been given, such as Rescind or Amend Something Previously Adopted.

Were I to agree with Mr. Brown, a motion like this carried over to a new board could be adopted by majority vote simply by misusing Commit to circumvent the rule, even though some or all of the members of the new board were not given notice of the motion.

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Guest Zev
Quote

 

If two consecutive regular business sessions are separated by no more than a quarterly time interval, then -- provided that there is no specified portion of the membership whose term expires before the start of the later session -- there are several ways in which business can go over from the earlier session to the later one:*

1) by being postponed to, or otherwise set as a general or special order for, the later session (see 14, 41);

2) by being laid on the table (17) at the earlier session and not taken from the table (34) before that session adjourns;

3) by going over to the later session as unfinished business or as an unfinished special order (see pp. 236-37, 356-59);

4) by being the subject of a motion to Reconsider (37) that is not finally disposed of at the earlier session; and

5) by being referred to a committee (13) that can report at the later session.

 

RONR 11th edition, pp. 90-91.

So, what do I do with that "provided" over there? Is that the same thing as saying that if a portion of the membership expires then "all committees are automatically discharged of the motions referred to them" or would that be the same thing as saying "all committees may or not keep the matters referred to them at their discretion"?

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17 minutes ago, Rob Elsman said:

Were I to agree with Mr. Brown, a motion like this carried over to a new board could be adopted by majority vote simply by misusing Commit to circumvent the rule, even though some or all of the members of the new board were not given notice of the motion.

Perhaps I'm missing something, but if you were to agree with Mr. Brown (and me) on both this topic and the previous thread on notice, wouldn't it simply be using Commit, rather than misusing? Or, at worst, you only need to prevail on one of these to avoid the outcome you're worried about. Personally, I'm not terribly worried about it.

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Guest Zev

I just referred to page 489 lines 3-7 and page 237 lines 10-13.

<to-the-voice-of-rosanne-rosannadanna>

Never mind.

</to-the-voice-of-rosanne-rosannadanna>

 

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Guest Zev, thank you for the citations.  you might also read the material at the bottom of page 502 and top of 503 that I referred to and quoted from in a much earlier comment.  I think it is clear in RONR that referring a matter to a special committee is an appropriate way of carrying a matter over from an outgoing board to the incoming board.

Edited by Richard Brown
Added first and last sentences

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Not even I contest the right of an assembly to refer a main motion to a committee at the last meeting of a session which will end the term of some or all of its members when the purpose of such a referral is consistent with the purpose of the motion, Commit. When this is done, what is said in RONR (11th ed.), pp. 502, 503 is certainly applicable. However, nothing that is said in pp. 502, 503 excuses the misuse of a motion to Commit when the sole purpose of making the motion is not consistent with the purpose of the motion, Commit. I hold that referring a main motion to a committee for the sole purpose of preventing it from falling to the ground at the end of the session is not consistent with the purpose of the motion, Commit, nor the purpose for which committees exist. Therefore, the motion to Commit is not in order when the sole purpose of making the motion is to circumvent the rule that the main motion will otherwise fall to the ground at the end of the session.

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3 hours ago, Guest Zev said:

I just referred to page 489 lines 3-7 and page 237 lines 10-13.

<to-the-voice-of-rosanne-rosannadanna>

Never mind.

</to-the-voice-of-rosanne-rosannadanna>

 

I think you mean Emily Litella.

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Guest Zev
8 hours ago, Richard Brown said:

I think it is clear in RONR that referring a matter to a special committee is an appropriate way of carrying a matter over from an outgoing board to the incoming board.

I rushed through the thread more quickly than I should have, that was my fault. My apology for that. Thank you for the reminder.

The expression "...unless it is appointed expressly to report at a later time." found at the bottom of page 502 seem definitive. I sympathize with Mr. Elsman's reasoning if this were a case of interpretation and the expression just quoted had not existed. I suppose the authors could have determined that special committees ceased to exist at the instant their appointing body ceased to exist, but not only they did not say that but they said the exact opposite in the specific case mentioned.  Here is what happened between the 10th and 11th editions:

Quote

A special committee -- since it is appointed for a specific purpose -- continues to exist until the duty assigned to it is accomplished, unless discharged sooner (see 36); and it [485] ceases to exist as soon as the assembly receives its final report. The fact that an annual meeting intervenes does not discharge a special committee, but in an elected or appointed body, as a convention, special committees that have not reported cease to exist when the new officers assume their duties at the next annual meeting. But in a body which ceases to exist or in which the terms of some or all of its members expire at a definite time, like a convention of delegates, a city council, or a board of directors, a special committee expires with the body that appointed it, unless it is appointed expressly to report at [503] a later time. If it does not report, its life expires with that of the body to which it was to report.

The base text is RONR 10th edition. The strikeout was eliminated and the underlined was added. The inserted text did not exist before 2011. The text beginning with "A special committee..." has existed in every modern edition until and including the 4th edition, but not before that.

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I think the real, underlying question is whether the sole purpose of circumventing item c) in RONR (11th ed.), p. 237 is consistent with the purposes of a committee, RONR (11th ed.), pp. 168, 489.

Once this question is answered, the rest falls into place. All this other stuff strikes me as a red herring.

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So now my head has exploded!

Can someone please decipher the final conclusion to the original question, "Can the rule requiring unfinished business to fall to the ground be suspended?"

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No, the rule cannot be suspended because, as Mr Honemann has noted, you cannot suspend a rule that has an application beyond the current session and this rule affects the order of business of the next meeting.

However, what you can do is to refer the matter to a committee with instructions to report back at the first meeting of the new board. Mr. Elsman thinks that's improper, but he's the only one who thinks that way.

And Mr. Katz reminded us that you always have the option of just introducing the item as a new main motion at the first meeting.

Edited by Atul Kapur
Added last sentence

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4 minutes ago, Atul Kapur said:

No, the rule cannot be suspended because, as Mr Honemann has noted, you cannot suspend a rule that has an application beyond the current session and this rule affects the order of business of the next meeting.

I agree completely and was in the process of typing an answer that says so when Dr. Kapur  posted his response.

5 minutes ago, Atul Kapur said:

However, what you can do is to refer the matter to a committee with instructions to report back at the first meeting of the new board. Mr. Elsman thinks that's improper, but he's the only one who thinks that way.

I also agree completely with this response and have been saying so from the very beginning. RONR is crystal clear that this is a permissible use of the motion to refer a matter to a committee.

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