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september/october 2007

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Q: What do we do if the elected secretary does not come to a meeting?
A: The minimum officers for a meeting are a presiding officer and a secretary. Robert’s, page 21, line 5. In the absence of the secretary, a secretary pro tem should be elected. Robert’s, page 443, line 27.

Q: What is the difference between a motion and a resolution?
A: The difference is the formality with which a resolution is written. A main motion is frequently offered as a resolution, either because of its importance or because of its length or complexity. Robert’s, page 100, line 35. When special circumstances make it desirable to include a brief statement of background, the motion should be cast in the form of a resolution, with the background or reasons incorporated in a preamble that is placed before the resolving clauses. Robert’s, page 102, line 12.

Q: Can a member at large attend any chapter meeting?
A: The chapter meetings I have attended have been open meetings with guests and non-members observing but not participating in the procedure unless specifically invited to do so. A chapter has the right to determine who may be present at its meetings and to control its hall while meetings are in progress. Robert’s, page 625, line 10.

Non-chapter members can be excluded at any time from part or all of a meeting of a chapter or from all of its meetings. Such exclusion can be effected by a ruling of the chair in cases of disorder, or by the adoption of a rule on the subject, or by an appropriate motion as the need arises. A motion to exclude all non-chapter members is often referred to as a motion to “go into executive session.” Robert’s, page 625, line 11 and line 19.

Q: What can I do if a member starts calling another member names?
A: When a member repeatedly questions the motives of other members whom he mentions by name or persists in speaking on completely irrelevant matters in debate, the chair or any other member can “call the member to order.” The chair may say: “The member is out of order and will be seated.” Another member may, without waiting to be recognized, say: “Mr. President, I call the member to order,” then resume his seat. Robert’s, page 625, line 21.

Q: Does a member have to put a motion in writing?
A: If a motion is offered in wording that is not clear or that requires smoothing before it can be recorded in the minutes, it is the duty of the chair to see that the motion is put into suitable form preserving the content to the satisfaction of the mover before the question is stated. The chair should not admit a motion that the secretary would have to paraphrase for the record. The chair, either on his own initiative or at the secretary’s request, can require any main motion, amendment, or instructions to a committee to be in writing before stating the question. Robert’s, page 38, line 7.

Send your questions on parliamentary procedure to Answers are based on Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised 10th Edition.


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