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Richard Brown

Motions to obtain a quorum

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Dr. Kapur is correct that the motion to fix the time to which to adjourn would not be a privileged motion if made with no other business is pending. Also, if it is not privileged, it would be subject to a motion to recess. I should have pointed that out in my response.

However, I have a question as to whether a motion to take action to obtain a quorum would be in order when a motion to fix the time to which to adjourn is pending. Apparently, based on the language on page 348, it would take precedence over a motion to recess, but I’m not so sure it would take precedence over a motion to fix the time to which to adjourn. Perhaps it does, but the book does not seem to be clear. I would like to hear some discussion on that point.

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The way I read p. 348 is that the motion to take action would take precedence over the privileged motion to Recess. So, using the principles of interpretation, I would say it would not take precedence over the privileged motions Adjourn and Fix a Time.

However, I think that the same motion to Take Action would take precedence over the incidental main motions to Adjourn or Fix a Time, which are below Recess in the table of precedence.

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In my opinion, motions to take action to obtain a quorum are equivalent to the Call of the House, discussed on RONR (11th ed.), p. 350. As indicated there, such motions are in order when a quorum is lacking, except when a motion to Adjourn is pending. When a quorum is present, such motions are equivalent to a Question of Privilege.

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When a quorum is present, why wouldn't such motions be dilatory?

This is for voluntary societies. I see p. 350, lines 17-20 where it may be allowed in assemblies that have the power to compel attendance. But I don't see any purpose in societies where that's not the case.

The fact that I don't see the direct analogy is also the reason I prefer the precedence on p. 348 rather than that of Call of the House on p. 350 (which only says it yields to Adjourn). That is, the motion takes precedence over Recess but yields to the privileged motions Adjourn and Fix a Time to Which to Adjourn.

Edited by Atul Kapur

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Such motions would not be dilatory when a quorum is present. The judgment of the assembly may be that greater attendance is advantageous to the society for the consideration of particularly important questions.

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It seems to me that RONR is quite clear that although a motion to obtain a quorum may be similar to the motion “call of the house”, the motion call of the house is not applicable in ordinary voluntary societies without the power to compel attendance. The rules regarding the use of call of the house would not be applicable.


In addition RONR states on page 350 At lines 10–11 that assemblies which do utilize call of the house should adopt rules for its use. All of that tells me that the rules in RONR applicable to call of the house are not applicable in ordinary voluntary societies. 

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2 hours ago, Richard Brown said:

It seems to me that RONR is quite clear that although a motion to obtain a quorum may be similar to the motion “call of the house”, the motion call of the house is not applicable in ordinary voluntary societies without the power to compel attendance. The rules regarding the use of call of the house would not be applicable.


In addition RONR states on page 350 At lines 10–11 that assemblies which do utilize call of the house should adopt rules for its use. All of that tells me that the rules in RONR applicable to call of the house are not applicable in ordinary voluntary societies. 

RONR also explicitly states that “Motions to obtain a quorum are similar to a Call of the House, which can be ordered in assemblies having the power to compel attendance (see below).” (RONR, 11th ed., pg. 348)

So it does not seem at all unreasonable to suggest that the rules for the call of the house are also applicable to a motion to obtain a quorum, except for those rules which are clearly related to the assembly’s “power to compel attendance.” Certainly an assembly without such powers cannot arrest absent members and drag them to the meeting, but it seems perfectly reasonable that other rules not dependent on this power would be the same for both motions.

4 hours ago, Atul Kapur said:

When a quorum is present, why wouldn't such motions be dilatory?

An assembly may find greater attendance desirable, or even necessary, for certain items of business. Perhaps adoption of a motion requires a majority of the entire membership, and they are only a few members short. Perhaps a particularly controversial motion is pending and the assembly wishes to ensure that as many members as possible have an opportunity to express their opinions on it.

Of course, I don’t know that this matters too much, since “measures to obtain a quorum” in a voluntary society generally involves something like texting members and asking them to please come to the meeting, and members can generally do this whether or not a motion has been adopted on the subject. :)

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On 2/6/2020 at 11:33 AM, Richard Brown said:

I have a question as to whether a motion to take action to obtain a quorum would be in order when a motion to fix the time to which to adjourn is pending. Apparently, based on the language on page 348, it would take precedence over a motion to recess, but I’m not so sure it would take precedence over a motion to fix the time to which to adjourn. Perhaps it does, but the book does not seem to be clear. I would like to hear some discussion on that point.

 

On 2/6/2020 at 1:00 PM, Atul Kapur said:

The way I read p. 348 is that the motion to take action would take precedence over the privileged motion to Recess. So, using the principles of interpretation, I would say it would not take precedence over the privileged motions Adjourn and Fix a Time.

However, I think that the same motion to Take Action would take precedence over the incidental main motions to Adjourn or Fix a Time, which are below Recess in the table of precedence.

This is correct. When the book says, "A motion to obtain a quorum may be moved … as a privileged motion that takes precedence over a motion to Recess", clearly it is saying that the motion ranks just above the privileged motion to Recess in the order of precedence of motions. That is, it ranks above the privileged motion to Recess and below the privileged motion to Adjourn.

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On 2/6/2020 at 1:03 PM, Rob Elsman said:

In my opinion, motions to take action to obtain a quorum are equivalent to the Call of the House, discussed on RONR (11th ed.), p. 350. As indicated there, such motions are in order when a quorum is lacking, except when a motion to Adjourn is pending. When a quorum is present, such motions are equivalent to a Question of Privilege.

 

On 2/6/2020 at 3:01 PM, Richard Brown said:

It seems to me that RONR is quite clear that although a motion to obtain a quorum may be similar to the motion “call of the house”, the motion call of the house is not applicable in ordinary voluntary societies without the power to compel attendance. The rules regarding the use of call of the house would not be applicable.


In addition RONR states on page 350 At lines 10–11 that assemblies which do utilize call of the house should adopt rules for its use. All of that tells me that the rules in RONR applicable to call of the house are not applicable in ordinary voluntary societies. 

 

I agree with Mr. Brown. RONR does not actually set forth the rules governing a Call of the House, and it certainly doesn't apply them to ordinary societies in which attendance is voluntary.

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On 2/6/2020 at 1:03 PM, Rob Elsman said:

In my opinion, motions to take action to obtain a quorum are equivalent to the Call of the House, discussed on RONR (11th ed.), p. 350. As indicated there, such motions are in order when a quorum is lacking, except when a motion to Adjourn is pending. When a quorum is present, such motions are equivalent to a Question of Privilege.

 

On 2/6/2020 at 1:25 PM, Atul Kapur said:

When a quorum is present, why wouldn't such motions be dilatory?

This is for voluntary societies. I see p. 350, lines 17-20 where it may be allowed in assemblies that have the power to compel attendance. But I don't see any purpose in societies where that's not the case.

The fact that I don't see the direct analogy is also the reason I prefer the precedence on p. 348 rather than that of Call of the House on p. 350 (which only says it yields to Adjourn). That is, the motion takes precedence over Recess but yields to the privileged motions Adjourn and Fix a Time to Which to Adjourn.

 

On 2/6/2020 at 1:47 PM, Rob Elsman said:

Such motions would not be dilatory when a quorum is present. The judgment of the assembly may be that greater attendance is advantageous to the society for the consideration of particularly important questions.

It seems kind of obvious to me that motions to obtain a quorum would be dilatory when a quorum has already been obtained.

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On 2/6/2020 at 5:58 PM, Josh Martin said:
On 2/6/2020 at 1:25 PM, Atul Kapur said:

When a quorum is present, why wouldn't such motions be dilatory?

An assembly may find greater attendance desirable, or even necessary, for certain items of business. Perhaps adoption of a motion requires a majority of the entire membership, and they are only a few members short. Perhaps a particularly controversial motion is pending and the assembly wishes to ensure that as many members as possible have an opportunity to express their opinions on it.

OK, but you are talking about motions to take measures to obtain a greater attendance, not motions to take measures to obtain a quorum.

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