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Dear Parliamentarian Vol. 18 June, 1997

Dear Parliamentarian Vol. 18 June, 1997

Dear Readers,

    If you would like to read the entire "Parlimentarian Column" every month, please e-mail us at for details. You can become a subscriber. The cost is just $60.00 a year and it will be sent to your e-mail address at the first of every month.


    An organization I belong to recently held a meeting (in our constitution it states that meetings will be held in accordance with Robert’s Rules). Prior to the meeting an agenda had been posted.

    After the agenda items had been discussed a member of the organization posed a motion to the floor. The motion was seconded. Before discussion took place the chairperson called the motion out of order because it was not on the agenda and stated the motion would be placed on the next agenda for discussion.

    Is this allowed? All the members have copies of Robert’s Rules and cannot see where the chair can make this move.

    Thank you.


Dear AJ,

    A president can get away with whatever the members allow. Did the organization adopt the agenda at the beginning of the meeting? Is it your custom to only discuss the agenda listed items?

    This is what Robert’s Rules states on page 369: “In some organizations, it is customary to send each member, in advance of a meeting, an order of business or agenda, some indication of the matters to be considered under each heading. Such an agenda is often provided for INFORMATION only, with no intention or practice of submitting it for adoption. Unless a pre-circulated agenda is formally adopted at the session to which applies, it is not binding as to detail or order of consideration, other than as it lists preexisting orders of the day (pp.359ff) or conforms to the standard order of business (pp.24-25, 347ff.) or an order of business prescribed by the rules of the organization (pp. 15-17, 24).”

     If the organization had adopted the agenda, a member could have made a motion to add a topic to the agenda. It would be adopted by a two thirds vote or by unanimous consent. If the agenda was not adopted then any member could bring up other business after the agenda items were finished, or even before the agenda items were finished. Point out to your chairman that it is the members that have the final say and not the chairman. After the chairman ruled the motion out of order, any member could have appealed from decision of the chair. This motion needs a second and the appeal is debatable.

    The Parliamentaian

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