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Well, when the parliamentary authority (and your own rules, of course) are silent, other manuals can be consulted as persuasive, so I don't see any reason the Senate "manual" can't be. But it's a separate question how much weight to assign it; in most cases, very little, I'd think. But in the end, the organization will decide what to do.

If I might ask, what's the situation that leads you to consider this?

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13 hours ago, Joshua Katz said:

If I might ask, what's the situation that leads you to consider this?

My organization's bylaws do not adopt rules of order. I think the omission was deliberate because our bylaws look like they were written by someone familiar with parliamentary procedure (probably a lawyer). To my knowledge, the omission hasn't caused us any significant problems in the last 100 years (since our founding). Despite the warnings in RONR about not adopting rules, I'm not inclined to consider changing the bylaws — the saw "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" applies, especially since I'm likely the only person in the organization who knows that not adopting rules is asking for trouble.

The flexibility (as I see it) of not adopting rules of order may be advantageous for us. For example, it can take us up to 10 minutes to know if we have a quorum. Since we approve minutes at the start of our meetings, we could speed things up if we follow the Senate rule that "presumes that a quorum is present unless the contrary is shown by a roll call vote or quorum call." Approving the minutes is perfunctory — members receive a draft of the minutes long before the meeting and have ample time to suggest changes — so why not presume a quorum, approve the minutes, and move on with the show? The only body I know of that allows the presumption of a quorum is Congress.

I have a copy of RONR nearby — it's comforting for me to know that RONR allows my organization to follow Senate quorum rules.

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1 hour ago, rbk said:

My organization's bylaws do not adopt rules of order. I think the omission was deliberate because our bylaws look like they were written by someone familiar with parliamentary procedure (probably a lawyer). To my knowledge, the omission hasn't caused us any significant problems in the last 100 years (since our founding). Despite the warnings in RONR about not adopting rules, I'm not inclined to consider changing the bylaws — the saw "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" applies, especially since I'm likely the only person in the organization who knows that not adopting rules is asking for trouble.

The flexibility (as I see it) of not adopting rules of order may be advantageous for us. For example, it can take us up to 10 minutes to know if we have a quorum. Since we approve minutes at the start of our meetings, we could speed things up if we follow the Senate rule that "presumes that a quorum is present unless the contrary is shown by a roll call vote or quorum call." Approving the minutes is perfunctory — members receive a draft of the minutes long before the meeting and have ample time to suggest changes — so why not presume a quorum, approve the minutes, and move on with the show? The only body I know of that allows the presumption of a quorum is Congress.

I have a copy of RONR nearby — it's comforting for me to know that RONR allows my organization to follow Senate quorum rules.

I think there is quite likely a better solution to this problem than following the US Senate's rule of presuming the presence of a quorum (even if this presumption is obviously false on the face of it) so long as no member complains. I would also suggest that the fact that a particular rule is not used by most parliamentary authorities or organizations undermines the extent to which such a rule should be viewed as "persuasive."

I also don't think it is correct to say that "RONR allows my organization to follow Senate quorum rules." RONR certainly allows no such thing - the reason your organization can follow the US Senate's practice in this matter (although I do not think it is advisable to do so) is precisely because it has not adopted RONR as its parliamentary authority. If your organization had adopted RONR as its authority, the organization would need to adopt rules of its own to supersede RONR's rules on this matter, which require a determination as to the presence of a quorum at the start of a meeting. See RONR (12th ed.) 40:11-12.

Could you elaborate on why it is that "it can take us up to 10 minutes to know if we have a quorum?"

Edited by Josh Martin
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On 5/10/2021 at 8:57 AM, Josh Martin said:

I also don't think it is correct to say that "RONR allows my organization to follow Senate quorum rules."

Sorry, I didn't express myself properly. Our bylaws do not adopt a parliamentary authority. RONR (12th ed.) 2:19 says that when an assembly or society does not adopt rules of order, "a recognized parliamentary manual may be cited under such conditions as persuasive." So per RONR guidance, I cited a recognized parliamentary manual (used by the US Senate) as persuasive. Similarly, I could have cited RONR as persuasive. Whether either of those parliamentary authorities persuades is a different matter.

I appreciate your question about why it can take us so long to know whether we have a quorum. If we made it a high priority to count heads quickly, we could get that information faster. But with virtual meetings and many members showing up close to the meeting's start time, waiting for quorum verification will delay the start of our meeting no matter what we do. And since the delay would be for a perfunctory order of business, approving the minutes, the delay seems unnecessary and should be avoided if possible.

I'm new to the subject of parliamentary procedure, so I appreciate the help this forum provides.

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Since there appears to be no adopted authority, your organization may have established one by custom.   When there is a parliamentary question, is there a set of rules your organization looks at to reach a decision? 

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45 minutes ago, rbk said:

Sorry, I didn't express myself properly. Our bylaws do not adopt a parliamentary authority. RONR (12th ed.) 2:19 says that when an assembly or society does not adopt rules of order, "a recognized parliamentary manual may be cited under such conditions as persuasive." So per RONR guidance, I cited a recognized parliamentary manual (used by the US Senate) as persuasive. Similarly, I could have cited RONR as persuasive. Whether either of those parliamentary authorities persuades is a different matter.

This is getting circular , how do you decide that RONR 2.19 is persuasive?

Sorry you are out in a swamp tread carefully 

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1 hour ago, J. J. said:

Since there appears to be no adopted authority, your organization may have established one by custom.   When there is a parliamentary question, is there a set of rules your organization looks at to reach a decision? 

No. We rarely have parliamentary questions. When those questions arise, they are usually a matter of bylaw interpretation and are settled pretty easily. Our regular meetings are mostly informational. The only business I can think of that we conduct at regular meetings is approving minutes, electing members and officers, and, rarely, amending the bylaws. The Board of Trustees does our other business at board meetings.

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On 5/10/2021 at 7:07 AM, rbk said:

My organization's bylaws do not adopt rules of order. I think the omission was deliberate because our bylaws look like they were written by someone familiar with parliamentary procedure (probably a lawyer)

 

19 minutes ago, Gary Novosielski said:

LOL that's cute.

LOL!!!  Yep!  If you want legal advice, consult a lawyer.  If you want parliamentary procedure advice, consult a parliamentarian.  There is nothing wrong with having lawyers draft bylaws, but lawyers are generally not very knowledgeable about parliamentary procedure in general or RONR in particular!  If you want to have a lawyer draft your bylaws, fine, but I suggest then having them reviewed by a parliamentarian before actually adopting them.  I assure you I wasn't taught diddly squat about parliamentary procedure in law school. I  studied and learned parliamentary procedure and Robert's Rules of Order on my own AFTER graduating from law school.

Edited by Richard Brown
Correct error in copying
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3 minutes ago, Richard Brown said:

I assure you I wasn't taught diddly squat about parliamentary procedure in law school. I  studied and learned parliamentary procedure and Robert's Rules of Order on my own AFTER graduating from law school.

This is because parliamentary law, like Ohm's law, is not the sort of law that lawyer's deal with.  

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5 hours ago, rbk said:

Sorry, I didn't express myself properly. Our bylaws do not adopt a parliamentary authority. RONR (12th ed.) 2:19 says that when an assembly or society does not adopt rules of order, "a recognized parliamentary manual may be cited under such conditions as persuasive." So per RONR guidance, I cited a recognized parliamentary manual (used by the US Senate) as persuasive. Similarly, I could have cited RONR as persuasive. Whether either of those parliamentary authorities persuades is a different matter.

So you're citing RONR as persuasive to make your case of why some other authority should be cited as persuasive?

5 hours ago, rbk said:

I appreciate your question about why it can take us so long to know whether we have a quorum. If we made it a high priority to count heads quickly, we could get that information faster. But with virtual meetings and many members showing up close to the meeting's start time, waiting for quorum verification will delay the start of our meeting no matter what we do. And since the delay would be for a perfunctory order of business, approving the minutes, the delay seems unnecessary and should be avoided if possible.

So if I understand correctly, you are suggesting that a quorum count would still occur at the beginning of the meeting, however, the assembly could continue to conduct business during the count under the presumption that a quorum is present. Additionally, you theorize that generally the only business which would be conducted during that time is the approval of the minutes.

An assembly with no parliamentary rules is, of course, free to do this if it wishes, since there is no rule stopping them from doing so. (I am assuming there are no applicable laws on this matter.) Hopefully there will never be a dispute over the contents of the minutes.

I still don't think much of this practice, but it is at least preferable to following the US Senate's rule on this matter.

4 hours ago, Guest Puzzling said:

This is getting circular , how do you decide that RONR 2.19 is persuasive?

The assembly decides.

"A deliberative assembly that has not adopted any rules is commonly understood to hold itself bound by the rules and customs of the general parliamentary law - or common parliamentary law (as discussed in the Introduction) - to the extent that there is agreement in the meeting body as to what these rules and practices are." RONR (12th ed.) 1:5

"Although it is unwise for an assembly or a society to attempt to function without formally adopted rules of order, a recognized parliamentary manual may be cited under such conditions as persuasive. Or, by being followed through long-established custom in an organization, a particular manual may acquire a status within the body similar to that of an adopted parliamentary authority." RONR (12th ed.) 2:19

I wouldn't read too much into this second paragraph. All it says is that in a society with no formal rules of order, a member may cite from a recognized parliamentary authority as persuasive. Whether it is, in fact, persuasive enough to follow in a particular instance will be for the members to decide. Ultimately, in an assembly with no rules of order, the members will be free to determine its procedures based on its own understanding of what the rules and practices of the common parliamentary law are, bound only by the rules the society actually has adopted (such as its bylaws) and by procedural rules in applicable law.

2 hours ago, rbk said:

No. We rarely have parliamentary questions. When those questions arise, they are usually a matter of bylaw interpretation and are settled pretty easily. Our regular meetings are mostly informational. The only business I can think of that we conduct at regular meetings is approving minutes, electing members and officers, and, rarely, amending the bylaws. The Board of Trustees does our other business at board meetings.

You do intend to actually have a quorum present for electing members and officers and amending the bylaws, I hope?

Edited by Josh Martin
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2 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

This is because parliamentary law, like Ohm's law, is not the sort of law that lawyer's deal with.  

Though I wish that they would put up more  resistance when asked to do so. 😉

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On 5/9/2021 at 3:47 PM, rbk said:

My question relates to RONR (12th ed.) 2:18. Can Senate rules be cited as persuasive when an organization’s adopted parliamentary authority is silent?

I question whether the rules of the U.S. Senate are really considered a "recognized parliamentary manual" or "another work on parliamentary law" in the sense contemplated by §2:18 and 2:19 of RONR (12th ed.).  The Senate Rules strike me more as customized special rules of order and standing rules of a specific legislative body which do not have much in common with ordinary deliberative assemblies. 

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As to determining whether a quorum is present at the beginning of the meeting, the way I read 40:11 and 40:12, the chair can call the meeting to order without the necessity of actually conducting a count of the members present.  If he believes that a quorum is present and calls the meeting to order, the continued presence of a quorum is presumed unless the chair or a member notices that a quorum is not present.  Any member noticing the lack of a quorum can make a point of order to that effect, just as with the rules of the U.S. Senate.

Edited to add:  regarding actions taken prior the noticing the lack of a quorum, 40:12 goes on to provide:  "Because of the difficulty likely to be encountered in determining exactly how long the meeting has been without a quorum in such cases, a point of order relating to the absence of a quorum is generally not permitted to affect prior action; but upon clear and convincing proof, such a point of order can be given effect retrospectively by a ruling of the presiding officer, subject to appeal (24). 1"

 

 

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1 hour ago, Richard Brown said:

I question whether the rules of the U.S. Senate are really considered a "recognized parliamentary manual" or "another work on parliamentary law" in the sense contemplated by §2:18 and 2:19 of RONR (12th ed.).  The Senate Rules strike me more as customized special rules of order and standing rules of a specific legislative body which do not have much in common with ordinary deliberative assemblies. 

I agree that this is a question (and the fact that the rules are just a composition of precedents), but I think it goes to weight.

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7 hours ago, Josh Martin said:

So you're citing RONR as persuasive to make your case of why some other authority should be cited as persuasive?

Yes. RONR is the gold standard IMO. I strayed from it because I thought the Senate had a better quorum rule for my organization and our bylaws allow us to use any rule book. But I would imagine that what I cited in RONR is general parliamentary law, or at least common to other recognized parliamentary authorities.

 

7 hours ago, Josh Martin said:

So if I understand correctly, you are suggesting that a quorum count would still occur at the beginning of the meeting, however, the assembly could continue to conduct business during the count under the presumption that a quorum is present. Additionally, you theorize that generally the only business which would be conducted during that time is the approval of the minutes.

Correct.

 

7 hours ago, Josh Martin said:

An assembly with no parliamentary rules is, of course, free to do this if it wishes, since there is no rule stopping them from doing so. (I am assuming there are no applicable laws on this matter.) Hopefully there will never be a dispute over the contents of the minutes.

 
Is that a worry? Doesn't RONR 40:12 offer protection against such disputes?
"...a point of order relating to the absence of a quorum is generally not permitted to affect prior action...."

 

7 hours ago, Josh Martin said:

You do intend to actually have a quorum present for electing members and officers and amending the bylaws, I hope?

You bet! It's required by our bylaws.

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4 hours ago, Richard Brown said:

As to determining whether a quorum is present at the beginning of the meeting, the way I read 40:11 and 40:12, the chair can call the meeting to order without the necessity of actually conducting a count of the members present.  If he believes that a quorum is present and calls the meeting to order, the continued presence of a quorum is presumed unless the chair or a member notices that a quorum is not present.  Any member noticing the lack of a quorum can make a point of order to that effect, just as with the rules of the U.S. Senate.

RONR 40:11 says it's the chair's "duty to determine... that a quorum is present." Wouldn't due diligence require him to do a headcount?

Edited by rbk
typo
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5 hours ago, Atul Kapur said:

Though I wish that they would put up more  resistance when asked to do so. 😉

Ohm's law is so much easier than parliamentary law. That's my current opinion, but I'd be shocked if it changes.

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38 minutes ago, rbk said:

RONR 40:11 says it's the chair's "duty to determine... that a quorum is present." Would't due diligence require him to do a headcount?

No, not necessarily. No rule in RONR requires him to do an actual headcount before determining that a quorum is present.

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