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Alex M.

What motions can be made en bloc?

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I'm confused by the interaction between the fundamental principle articulated in RONR (11th ed.), p. 59, ll. 18–23, that "only one question can be considered at a time", and the section in p. 274, l. 31, to p. 275, l. 14. The latter section states that "sometimes a series of independent resolutions or main motions dealing with different subjects is offered in one motion", and gives the specific example of multiple amendments to the same question being adopted by a single vote unless a member calls for a separate vote. I interpret pp. 274–75 to mean that multiple questions that could each stand alone can also be considered and voted on as a unit, unless any member requests that they be divided.

However, this seems to conflict with the  principle on p. 59. It also seems hostile to statements such as the one on p. 184, ll. 23–27, that it is not in order—even by main motion—to postpone an entire class of business by one motion, and that each item must be postponed by a separate motion. The prevailing sense in this thread seems to be that if a member wishes to postpone multiple items at once by main motion, the member must make a separate motion to postpone each item, and may not offer the multiple postponements as one motion (subject to division at the request of any member) as pp. 274–75 seem to imply is acceptable.

Under what circumstances, if any, may multiple main motions be put before the body to be decided by a single vote (subject to division at the request of any member)?

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8 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

One example is found on page 619.

What distinguishes this example from other cases where the main motions/resolutions must be offered individually and put to individual votes? Or do such cases exist?

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4 hours ago, Alex M. said:

What distinguishes this example from other cases where the main motions/resolutions must be offered individually and put to individual votes?

Nothing much, other than practicalities and common sense.

 I suppose I should add that there are no circumstances that I can think of off hand in which main motions "must" be offered individually and put to individual votes. The point is that there is no sense at all in offering a group of main motions under one enacting motion when there is no chance at all that one or more members will not call for separate consideration of one or some or all of them.

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2 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

Nothing much, other than practicalities and common sense.

 I suppose I should add that there are no circumstances that I can think of off hand in which main motions "must" be offered individually and put to individual votes. The point is that there is no sense at all in offering a group of main motions under one enacting motion when there is no chance at all that one or more members will not call for separate consideration of one or some or all of them.

Hopefully this example doesn't transgress any rules except possibly the one it is meant to illuminate:

A meeting of the Widget Society has just begun, and you are its president. There's expected to be a controversial debate in unfinished business, but there are also a panoply of special committees set to give reports.

After the minutes are approved, I rise, get recognized, and move to postpone each of the special committees' reports to after unfinished business. My intent is that my proposal be treated as a set of multiple main motions, one per report, divisible on demand by any member.

A member rises on a point of order, arguing that my motion is not in order because it would violate the rule against postponement of a class of subjects.

You are in the chair. How do you rule?

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Guest Zev

Chairman Zev: The member's point is well-taken. The motion to postpone several reports simultaneously is specifically disallowed by the rule on page 184 that states, "It is not in order. either through a subsidiary motion or a main motion, to postpone a class of business composed of several items or subjects, such as reports of officers or reports of committees; but each report can be postponed separately as it is announced or called for." The secretary will announce the first report.

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8 hours ago, Alex M. said:

Hopefully this example doesn't transgress any rules except possibly the one it is meant to illuminate:

A meeting of the Widget Society has just begun, and you are its president. There's expected to be a controversial debate in unfinished business, but there are also a panoply of special committees set to give reports.

After the minutes are approved, I rise, get recognized, and move to postpone each of the special committees' reports to after unfinished business. My intent is that my proposal be treated as a set of multiple main motions, one per report, divisible on demand by any member.

A member rises on a point of order, arguing that my motion is not in order because it would violate the rule against postponement of a class of subjects.

You are in the chair. How do you rule?

I think I would want to see exactly how your motion is worded. 

Zeb is certainly right to point out that it is not in order to move to postpone an entire class of business, but I don't think that this means that it would not be in order to include, under a single enacting motion, two or more separate main motions to postpone the hearing of specifically identified committee reports.

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2 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

I think I would want to see exactly how your motion is worded. 

Zeb is certainly right to point out that it is not in order to move to postpone an entire class of business, but I don't think that this means that it would not be in order to include, under a single enacting motion, two or more separate main motions to postpone the hearing of specifically identified committee reports.

Ahh, that makes sense. Thank you! 

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4 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

it is not in order to move to postpone an entire class of business, but I don't think that this means that it would not be in order to include, under a single enacting motion, two or more separate main motions to postpone the hearing of specifically identified committee reports.

Just to be very clear: even if that single enacting motion includes separate motions that, in total, have the effect of postponing the entire class (in this case, of committee reports)?

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57 minutes ago, Atul Kapur said:

Just to be very clear: even if that single enacting motion includes separate motions that, in total, have the effect of postponing the entire class (in this case, of committee reports)?

Yeah, I meant what I said.  🙂

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Starting arguments on the forum, my favorite pastime. 😈

My initial opinion was in line with Mr. Honemann's (though it should be noted that I'm a complete novice to this field). I interpret the rule on p. 184 to mean that if someone makes the motion I give in my example, it's in order only if treated as multiple main motions made simultaneously under the rule on p. 274. Thus, any member may demand a separate vote on postponing any individual item. If the rule on p. 184 were inverted to explicitly allow postponement of a class of business, the motion in my example would then be considered as a single main motion divisible only by majority vote.

So, the rule on p. 184 doesn't mean you can't make the motion in my example—it just means such a motion is treated as multiple simultaneous motions that may be considered jointly only by unanimous consent. Similar rules are treated similarly; generally speaking, there's no limit to what the assembly can do by a single vote except for the limits of reason and unanimous consent.

But I'm curious to hear thoughts from people who actually know what they're talking about.

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16 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

I think I would want to see exactly how your motion is worded. 

A tedious way of doing it would be "I move to postpone the report of the special committee appointed to consider Foo, and of the committee appointed to consider Bar, and of the committee [proceeding to identify each special committee] until after the consideration of unfinished business." But perhaps such tedium of expression can be avoided?

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On 11/28/2019 at 10:50 PM, Alex M. said:

A meeting of the Widget Society has just begun, and you are its president. There's expected to be a controversial debate in unfinished business, but there are also a panoply of special committees set to give reports.

After the minutes are approved, I rise, get recognized, and move to postpone each of the special committees' reports to after unfinished business.

 

On 11/29/2019 at 7:53 AM, Daniel H. Honemann said:

Zeb is certainly right to point out that it is not in order to move to postpone an entire class of business, but I don't think that this means that it would not be in order to include, under a single enacting motion, two or more separate main motions to postpone the hearing of specifically identified committee reports.

In the scenario presented, the problem I have is that an attempt is being made to deal with committee reports before the reports of officers, boards, and standing committees have been dealt with. It seems to me that tinkering with the order of business in this fashion would require some kind of suspension of the rules.

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37 minutes ago, Shmuel Gerber said:

 

In the scenario presented, the problem I have is that an attempt is being made to deal with committee reports before the reports of officers, boards, and standing committees have been dealt with. It seems to me that tinkering with the order of business in this fashion would require some kind of suspension of the rules.

I agree.

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9 hours ago, Shmuel Gerber said:

In the scenario presented, the problem I have is that an attempt is being made to deal with committee reports before the reports of officers, boards, and standing committees have been dealt with. It seems to me that tinkering with the order of business in this fashion would require some kind of suspension of the rules.

Fair enough. To be clear, though, am I correct that your objection isn't to the simultaneous postponements, but to the fact that they're being done before special committees are arrived at in the order of business? Or would you be okay with a main motion to postpone one special committee report before officer/etc. reports are handled? Just want to make sure you're not disputing Mr. Honemann's or my arguments on my original question before we start on a new topic.

As for the point you raise, you're probably right, but I'm curious enough to crack open my copy of RONR tomorrow...once I get some sleep.

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On 11/29/2019 at 11:16 PM, Alex M. said:

A tedious way of doing it would be "I move to postpone the report of the special committee appointed to consider Foo, and of the committee appointed to consider Bar, and of the committee [proceeding to identify each special committee] until after the consideration of unfinished business." But perhaps such tedium of expression can be avoided?

Such tedium of expression may be avoided by simply making a motion to Suspend the Rules, and then you can rearrange the order of business however your heart desires. If no member would object to the combined main motion to postpone all of these items (which is what is required), then you’ll also have the 2/3 vote needed to suspend the rules.

Conversely, if you don’t have enough support for a 2/3 vote, then presumably one or more members will object to the combined motion to postpone, and therefore individual motions to postpone each item of business as it becomes pending will be necessary.

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On 12/1/2019 at 6:37 AM, Daniel H. Honemann said:

Perhaps Mr. Gerber may also have a problem with the scenario presented depending upon what special committees are to report and the order in which they were appointed.

Having pondered the subject a bit more, I think that whenever the object is to change the time or sequence of consideration of matters whose time or sequence has previously been set by the assembly, a motion to do so will require more than a majority vote, except that the assembly may, by majority vote, postpone or lay on the table whatever is pending or is about to be taken up next.

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21 hours ago, Josh Martin said:

Such tedium of expression may be avoided by simply making a motion to Suspend the Rules, and then you can rearrange the order of business however your heart desires. If no member would object to the combined main motion to postpone all of these items (which is what is required), then you’ll also have the 2/3 vote needed to suspend the rules.

Conversely, if you don’t have enough support for a 2/3 vote, then presumably one or more members will object to the combined motion to postpone, and therefore individual motions to postpone each item of business as it becomes pending will be necessary.

I agree with this analysis if the question is to be treated as a series of main motions. However (having pondered the subject a bit more), I don't think the type of motion presented in this scenario should even be thought of as a series of independent main motions, but rather as akin to a motion to adopt an agenda that conflicts with the existing order of business (or, if the conflict arises from a previously adopted agenda, akin to a motion to amend an adopted agenda), and would simply require the same vote as such a motion.

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2 hours ago, Shmuel Gerber said:

I agree with this analysis if the question is to be treated as a series of main motions. However (having pondered the subject a bit more), I don't think the type of motion presented in this scenario should even be thought of as a series of independent main motions, but rather as akin to a motion to adopt an agenda that conflicts with the existing order of business (or, if the conflict arises from a previously adopted agenda, akin to a motion to amend an adopted agenda), and would simply require the same vote as such a motion.

So a motion such as the one described on page 180, lines 9-12, should be thought of in this light?

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41 minutes ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

So a motion such as the one described on page 180, lines 9-12, should be thought of in this light?

Yes, so the vote required would depend on whether the committee had been instructed to report at a specific meeting or time and this motion is changing that time in advance (by a two-thirds vote, somewhat as on p. 365, ll. 30-35), or the assembly is only now making the committee report a general order by "postponing" it (by majority vote, as on p. 365, ll.27-29) to ensure it doesn't come up before a certain time.

That's my theory, anyway. 🙂

(It's too bad that Gary Tesser is no longer here to suggest poking one's eyes out after reading section 41.)

 

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