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Executive Session


David A Foulkes

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As I read page 93, a motion to go into Executive Session is a Question of Privilege handled as a main motion.

1. Must the motion to move into ES first be prefaced with Raising a Question of Privilege subject to the ruling of the chair, or can it be made directly as a main motion at an appropriate time (ie when no other business is pending)?

2. How does an assembly, which has gone into ES in the middle of a regular business meeting, come out of ES? Is there an associated motion as such, or is perhaps the ES "adjourned"? And if it is adjourned, must the ES portion be called to order as though a separate meeting, in a sense?

Perhaps I haven't read the relevant pages enough to know these answers, as I'm only on my 137th time through The Book. :)

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As I read page 93, a motion to go into Executive Session is a Question of Privilege handled as a main motion.

1. Must the motion to move into ES first be prefaced with Raising a Question of Privilege subject to the ruling of the chair, or can it be made directly as a main motion at an appropriate time (ie when no other business is pending)?

2. How does an assembly, which has gone into ES in the middle of a regular business meeting, come out of ES? Is there an associated motion as such, or is perhaps the ES "adjourned"? And if it is adjourned, must the ES portion be called to order as though a separate meeting, in a sense?

Perhaps I haven't read the relevant pages enough to know these answers, as I'm only on my 137th time through The Book. :)

See p222 for A1.

The assembly does not adjourn to go into executive session. Rather, the motion is adopted (or the assembly concurs by unanimous consent) and the guests are excused. When it is time for the executive session to end, a motion (or, again, unanimous consent) would allow the executive session to end. The secretary should note both events in the minutes. The minutes of an executive session are only approved in a future (short) executive session.

-Bob

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As I read page 93, a motion to go into Executive Session is a Question of Privilege handled as a main motion.

1. Must the motion to move into ES first be prefaced with Raising a Question of Privilege subject to the ruling of the chair, or can it be made directly as a main motion at an appropriate time (ie when no other business is pending)?

2. How does an assembly, which has gone into ES in the middle of a regular business meeting, come out of ES? Is there an associated motion as such, or is perhaps the ES "adjourned"? And if it is adjourned, must the ES portion be called to order as though a separate meeting, in a sense?

Perhaps I haven't read the relevant pages enough to know these answers, as I'm only on my 137th time through The Book. :)

I think Mr. Fish has answered most of your questions. As to your first question, the answer is that there is no need to raise a question of privilege when no business is pending.

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Perhaps surprisingly RONR lacks an explicit "Go out of Executive Session" motion (with associated SDC) which would seem a "natural" parliamentary motion.

RONR/11 ?

You mean you really have some doubt about whether or not a motion to return to open session is to be handled exactly the same way as is a motion to go into executive session?

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Not all of the parliamentary (main) motions described in the book have an SDC set. Some of those ("Go into ExecSess" for sure, and that may be the only one, offhand) can perfectly well be the "subject motion" when a Question of Privilege has been raised and agreed to by the chair. So what are the necessary details to proces it correctly? (It isn't in the tinted pages, either.)

What is the SDC set for "Go into Executive Session"? Would the (unstated) SDC set for "Come out of ExecSess" be identical in all respects?

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You mean you really have some doubt about whether or not a motion to return to open session is to be handled exactly the same way as is a motion to go into executive session?

No, but then I wouldn't really have any doubt that a motion to Extend the Limits of Debate would be handled the same way as a motion to Limit Debate, either. Still, the Work sees fit to make that point explicitly.

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Not all of the parliamentary (main) motions described in the book have an SDC set. Some of those ("Go into ExecSess" for sure, and that may be the only one, offhand) can perfectly well be the "subject motion" when a Question of Privilege has been raised and agreed to by the chair. So what are the necessary details to proces it correctly? (It isn't in the tinted pages, either.)

What is the SDC set for "Go into Executive Session"? Would the (unstated) SDC set for "Come out of ExecSess" be identical in all respects?

A motion to go into executive session which is made when no question is pending is a main motion, and a motion to go into executive session which is made when another question is pending, and then admitted as a question of privilege, is treated as a main motion.

RONR provides you with SDC's for main motions.

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As I read page 93, a motion to go into Executive Session is a Question of Privilege handled as a main motion.

Not necessarily.

RONR gives two ways of handling a Question of Privilege.

A motion to go into executive session is a Question of Privilege.

As such, a Question of Privilege has a fork in the road.

Section 33 ("Requests and Inquiries") has its own Standard Descriptive Characteristics, which DO NOT MATCH the Standard Descriptive Characteristics for Section 10 ("Main Motion").

(excerpt, page 217)

When a question of privilege is taken up after it has been raised and has been admitted by the chair, however,

depending on the form in which it was introduced,

it is handled as a request (33),

or

it is treated as a main motion and is debatable and amendable and can have any subsidiary motion applied to it

--regardless of whether it interrupted, or awaited the disposal of, the pending business.

Questions of privilege can also be introduced while no motion is pending, either as

requests

or

by being moved and seconded just as any other main motion;

in that case, the device of “raising” a question of privilege does not enter in.

(excerpt, Section 33 ("Requests"), page 281, Standard Descriptive Characteristic #5 and #6)

5. All are not debatable.

6. All are not amendable.

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Not necessarily.

RONR gives two ways of handling a Question of Privilege.

A motion to go into executive session is a Question of Privilege.

As such, a Question of Privilege has a fork in the road.

Section 33 ("Requests and Inquiries") has its own Standard Descriptive Characteristics, which DO NOT MATCH the Standard Descriptive Characteristics for Section 10 ("Main Motion").

None of this as it relates to requests is relevant. A motion to go into executive session is a motion, not a request.

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None of this as it relates to requests is relevant.

A motion to go into executive session is a motion, not a request.

You missed the line being drawn.

The question is, "Is it a main motion, and fall under SDC of Section 10, or a Question of Privilege, and fall under the SDC of Section 19?"

• If it is moved as a motion when no main motion is pending, then, yes, Section 10 will apply.

• If it is moved via a raised Question of Privilege, then Section 10 will not apply, and instead Section 19 will apply.

Because RONR says (p. 93) that

A motion to go into executive session is a question of

privilege
(19)

...then, at least sometimes, the SDC of Section 19 will apply.

And the SDC of Section 19 does not match the SDC of Section 10.

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You missed the line being drawn.

The question is, "Is it a main motion, and fall under SDC of Section 10, or a Question of Privilege, and fall under the SDC of Section 19?"

• If it is moved as a motion when no main motion is pending, then, yes, Section 10 will apply.

• If it is moved via a raised Question of Privilege, then Section 10 will not apply, and instead Section 19 will apply.

Because RONR says (p. 93) that

A motion to go into executive session is a question of

privilege
(19)

...then, at least sometimes, the SDC of Section 19 will apply.

And the SDC of Section 19 does not match the SDC of Section 10.

I say again, a motion to go into executive session which is made when no question is pending is a main motion, and a motion to go into executive session which is made when another question is pending, and then admitted as a question of privilege, is treated as a main motion.

In either case, the references which you previously made to Requests (Section 33) were (and are) entirely irrelevant.

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You mean you really have some doubt about whether or not a motion to return to open session is to be handled exactly the same way as is a motion to go into executive session?

You know, you seem to have really touched on my point, solidifying my thought process as such. When the business of the Executive Session is concluded (and here I'm assuming it was for a portion of the business being handled at a regular meeting), does someone make a motion to Return to Open Session, or Go Out Of Executive Session, or some such similar motion?

I can see if the assembly went in to Executive Session to consider one piece of business, and upon the conclusion of that consideration (being voted on or otherwise temporarily disposed of), then there is no need to continue in Executive Session. Much as at a regular meeting, when there's no more business, the chair simply adjourns the meeting, I suppose this could be an option as well.

It just seems that as there a device to go into Executive Session, there should be one to come out of it, and I've seen no reference to such device in RONR. Yet.

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You know, you seem to have really touched on my point, solidifying my thought process as such. When the business of the Executive Session is concluded (and here I'm assuming it was for a portion of the business being handled at a regular meeting), does someone make a motion to Return to Open Session, or Go Out Of Executive Session, or some such similar motion?

I can see if the assembly went in to Executive Session to consider one piece of business, and upon the conclusion of that consideration (being voted on or otherwise temporarily disposed of), then there is no need to continue in Executive Session. Much as at a regular meeting, when there's no more business, the chair simply adjourns the meeting, I suppose this could be an option as well.

It just seems that as there a device to go into Executive Session, there should be one to come out of it, and I've seen no reference to such device in RONR. Yet.

Well, the answer is that there will either be a motion made to return to open session or, as is more likely, the chair will simply ask if there is any objection to doing so (unless, of course, the time when the executive session ends has previously been ordered in some fashion).

Otherwise, the assembly will remain in executive session until it adjourns.

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It just seems that as there a device to go into Executive Session, there should be one to come out of it, and I've seen no reference to such device in RONR.

It helps if one realizes that either a motion to enter or exit executive session is simply a particular application of a main motion, which may or may not be raised through the device of a question of privilege of the assembly.

And it's quite easy to make a device by just changing the relevant facts of the example for the motion to enter executive session.

Assume that, to discuss a sensitive issue involving an employee, an assembly with an interested constituency has closed part of one of its meetings to the public. The assembly completed its other business earlier in the meeting, and this was expected to be the final item for consideration. But Member X has surprised this meeting by introducing a resolution dealing with a matter of obvious importance and interest to the public that may call for prompt action by the assembly.

Member Y, feeling that the public should be privy to the assembly's discussions on this issue, interrupts Member X's speech on the pending resolution by rising "to a question of privilege relating to the assembly." As directed by the president, he states the question of privilege:

MEMBER Y: Mr. President, I believe this is a question we should consider in an open meeting. I move that we return to the open portion of our meeting after a brief recess, and any members of the public in the immediate vicinity be invited to return to the meeting hall. (Second.)

CHAIR: The chair rules that the question is one of privilege to be entertained immediately. It is moved and seconded that [stating the question on the motion to go into open session].

(Modified from the example for executive session in RONR, 10th ed., pg. 222, lines 1-21)

Just like its twin, this motion may be raised through the device of a question of privilege (as in the example), or it may be raised as a main motion when no motion is pending.

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