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Rules of Order for Better Meetings

The purpose of parliamentary rules is to make meetings better, faster and more effective. The basic rules follow Robert's Rules of Order, which apply unless otherwise addressed by the adopted Bylaws of the organization.

The four basic objectives in the rules should follow:
_ Fairness to all participants.
_ One item of business at a time.
_ Rights of the minority to be heard.
_ Rights of the majority to prevail.

Starting a meeting
_ The meeting will come to order (one rap of the gavel).
_ Members address the chair as Mr. or Madam President or Madam Chairman.
_ Establish a quorum. (Bylaws should address number necessary).
_ If no quorum, fix time to adjourn, recess, or take steps to establish a quorum.
_ Urgent business can be addressed, but must be ratified later by a quorum.

Minutes
Chair will say, "The Secretary will read the minutes." Member may offer changes. When this is concluded, a member may move and another may second the motion for the minutes to be approved.

Treasurer's Report
Chair will say, "The Treasurer will make its report." "Are there any questions?"
A motion is made and seconded to file the Treasurer’s report.

Agenda
Start of Meeting options:
Invocation, Pledge & Welcome
_ Reading of minutes and approval
_ Reports of Officers, Boards and Standing Committees
_ Reports of Special Committees (Ad Hoc)
_ Special Orders (unless special order is set for a time certain)
_ Unfinished business and General Orders
_ New Business
_ Featured Program (recommend special speakers be heard at the beginning of agenda.
_ Adjourn-Give time and date of next meeting.

Motion Procedure
_ A member makes a motion saying "I move that..." another member seconds
_ The Chair states the question (the motion)
_ The Chair asks for discussion
_ The Chair puts the question to a vote and asks for "Ayes" and "No's"
_ Chair announces the results of the vote

Important Points To Remember
Amendments must be germane, i.e., closely related to the pending motion.
"Move the previous Question": Motion to stop debate and vote.
_ Bylaws cannot be suspended unless stated in the bylaws and usually requires more than a majority.
_ No member should speak twice on a motion, unless other members have already been recognized to speak.
_ Majority means more than half of the qualified members present, unless a proxy is permitted by the bylaws.
_ A 2/3 vote should be counted either by standing or a show of hands.

Precedence of Motions
Motions are ranked in the order in which the Chair must recognize them.
The main motion is the lowest (in number) ranking motion, which has the rank of number one. Listed below, you will find the rankings given for the two categories of motions, Subsidiary motions and Privileged motions.

Subsidiary Motions:
2. Postpone indefinitely
3. Amend
4. Refer or commit
5. Postpone definitely
6. Limit or Extend Debate
7. Previous Question
8. Lay on the table

Privileged Motions: Highest in rank
9. Orders of the Day
10. Questions of Privilege
11. Recess
12. Adjourn
13. Fix time to Adjourn to

There are two additional categories:
Recall motions of which there are approximately five, and Incidental motions.

Note 1: Some motions can be interrupted - a few do not require a second - some are debatable - some are amendable - some require a simple majority.

Note 2: Any member of the group may ask to be heard on any subject so long as there is not a motion on the floor, e.g., "Mr./Madam Chairman"; Chair recognizes person; Chair may ask any or all members to identify themselves by name before they speak. The Chair may also set a time limit for any speakers to talk about the subject at hand. Also, a member of the organization may make a motion (requires a second) to set a time limit for each speaker. In a small organization a motion and second often emerges from a general discussion. However, the Chair must still call for discussion no matter how long a subject has previously been discussed before the motion.

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