Excerpts from Robert’s Rule of Order
- Before a member…can make a motion or speak in debate…he must obtain the floor; that is, he must be recognized by the chair as having the exclusive right to be heard at that time. (At MLA Business Meetings, this is done by first going to the nearest microphone.)
- A person addressing the chair to claim the floor should state his name and any necessary identification…, as (John Does, Oxbridge University Medical Library).
- Each member has the right to speak twice on the same question on the same day, but cannot make a second speech on the same question so long as any member who has not spoken on that question desires the floor.
- A member who has spoken twice on a particular question on the same day has exhausted his right to debate that question for that day.
- Debate must be confined to the merits of the pending question.
- Speakers must address their remarks to the chair, maintain a courteous tone, and–especially in reference to any divergence of opinion–should avoid injecting a personal note into debate.
- If at any time the presiding officer rises to speak with his privilege, any member who is speaking should be seated (or should step back slightly from the microphone) until the presiding officer has finished.
1. Parliamentary Know-How
Below are the motions (or actions) required to accomplish the more common purposes at business meetings (based on Robert’s Rules of Order.)
|Purpose||Motion or Action Required|
|To introduce business||Move to main motion|
|To approve action||Move to accept, adopt or ratify|
|To modify or change||Move to amend or refer to committee|
|To defer action||Move to postpone to a definite time, refer to committee or lay on the table|
|To limit discussion||Move to limit debate|
|To stop discussion||Move to the previous question|
|To determine correctness of an announced voice vote||Move for division of the assembly|
|To suppress a question||Object to consideration, move to postpone indefinitely, lay on the table|
|To object to decision of chair||Move an appeal from the decision|
|To make a request||Call for point of information, rise to parliamentary inquiry, or raise question of privilege|
|To consider for a second||Move to take from the table, reconsider or rescind|
|To repeal action||Move to rescind|
2. Most Used Motions
The most used motion used at business meetings, and a brief explanation of them, are given below (based on Robert’s Rules of Order).
Main Motion: Proposal for action or for expression of certain views. Only one main motion may be on the floor at a time.
Subsidiary Motions: Motions to modify or delay action on the main motion. In order when the main motion is being discussed.
- To amend (or to modify): Five methods to amend: 1) to strike; 2) to insert; 3) to strike and insert; 4) to add at end of sentence; 5) to substitute. Substitution generally is used only for an entire paragraph or section; strike and insert is quicker, easier, and accomplishes the same purpose.
- Refer to Committee: For information, for appropriate recommendations and/or to carry out recommendations.
- Postpone to a Certain Time: Defer further consideration of the main question until a definitely state[ed] time.
- Previous Question: To close debated on current questions. Affirmative vote (two-thirds without discussion) closes debate and orders immediate vote on pending question. The call “Question” may be ignored by the Chair.
- Lay on the Table: Set aside temporarily. Majority vote and no discussion. Motion may not be modified. If definite time is desired, postpone should be employed.
- Incidental Motions: These arise from pending question and must be decided before the question.
- Request for Information
- Point of Order
Division of Assembly
No recognition required. Division is used by the chair or assembly when the outcome of a vote is uncertain. A stand vote need not be counted unless the outcome is still uncertain or a record of the vote is required.
Reconsider: Must be made by one who voted on the prevailing side: in order only on the same day or the next succeeding day. If reconsideration carries, the motion to which it applies is again before the assembly.
Rescind or Cancel: May be called by anyone when it is too late for reconsideration, if action is not under way. Two-thirds vote without notice required, majority if notice to rescind has been given.
Adjourn: May be accomplished by general consent or by motion.