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Dear Parliamentarian Vol. 30 August '98

Dear Parliamentarian Vol. 30  August '98
Answers to your Parliamentary Questions

"Dear Parlimentarian" is written by the author of Parliamentary Procedures Made Simple: The Basics, an 80 minute video that tells how to have better meetings.

Dear Parliamentarian:

Could you clarify for me when the president of an organization is allowed to vote?




Dear Pam:

In small boards & committees of 12 or less, the president votes just like any other member unless the bylaws state otherwise or unless there is a tradition of him not voting. In larger meetings of over 12, he is supposed to maintain a position of neutrality. This means he votes last in a counted vote, votes last in a roll call vote (in both cases, he votes only to make or break a tie). In a ballot vote, he may vote with the others. Or he may elect not to vote until the results are in; then he can vote (if he so chooses) to make or break a tie. (In a ballot vote, he cannot vote twice.)

The Parliamentarian


Dear Mr. McConnell:

Regarding what is the difference between at 'meeting' and an 'information session' to report results of a survey that was done for negotiations. These meetings are providing us with the results of the survey and what will be presented to our employer.


1. Can new motions be entertained at this point in time?

2. What is the ruling on this, where and when can motions be receivable?   Meetings for this Road Show was posted as such - To disseminate results. Please help me on this issue.


Julie Furlanetto


Dear Julie:

 My assumption is that the meeting in question is a "special meeting" called for the purpose of disseminating the results of your survey of members' desires and choices to be presented for negotiation.

If this is the case, then "Robert's Rules of Order" says "...only business mentioned in the call of a special meeting can be transacted at such a meeting." (p. 92) The only possible exception is the case where some emergency action is taken. Even in this case, the emergency action would still have to be ratified at another regular meeting or at another special meeting called for the purpose. It is difficult to imagine what emergency issue could be brought up in this case.

So it is my opinion that you are correct in your position that the meeting is not for the purpose of making new motions about employment issues. If anyone makes such a motion, the chair should rule the motion out of order and not take it up for discussion.

The Parliamentarian

Editors Note:
The following is an exchange between the e-mail writer and the Parliamentarian. The Parliamentarian’s further questions are in italics. There was no further communication from the e-mail writer after this.

Dear Mr. McConnell:

Thank you for answering my e-mail. In addition to my previous e-mail, I'd like to also include the following facts:

1. The posting of the information sessions included, place time, and dates only.

Was the meeting posted as an "information session?" Also, was the survey that was taken presented as an information gathering device? Or was it presented as a voting procedure?

2. No agenda was posted nor given prior meetings.

If there is no agenda, then no one knows what is supposed to happen at the meetings. The people who think they can make motions are as "right" as the people who think they can't.

3. No minutes are being taken.

If no minutes are taken, then there is no legal record of anything being said or done. Obviously, you need to take minutes.

However, motions are being allowed to be taken at these meetings.

If motions have be traditionally allowed at these meetings then you are probably bound by your own tradition, unless your bylaws state otherwise.

Is all this legal?

All these questions should be answered in your bylaws. Please send a copy of the bylaws. Perhaps from that we can find out what can and cannot be done in this case.   It also may be necessary to call in an outside union negotiator to help solve this particular problem.

The Parliamentarian


Dear Parliamentarian:

We are talking about adding the position of Liaison to two organizations to our Board. How to we handle this? In other words, we have a liaison to two umbrella organizations which our community association belongs to. How do we go about making this liaison position a Board position? Thank you for any help you can give me.


Dear Diane:

You will have to revise your bylaws to create this position. Bylaws revision requires previous notice and a 2/3 vote to support it. Put the revision under "Board" and specify who composes the board. Our web site <> has a whole area about bylaws in the "Parliamentary Internet Newsletter" section. You are welcome to use any information you find there. If you need further help, just e-mail us.

The Parliamentarian


Dear Parliamentarian:

Could you possibly send a copy of your video for viewing by our National Parliamentarian, Phyllis Wood. Mrs. Wood is concerned if video is approved by the National Association of Parliamentarians based in Independence, Mo.?  Would appreciate your reply.


Kathy Romine, Advertising Representative, THE NATIONAL GARDENER


Dear Kathy:

We have never submitted it to the NAP for "approval." The script writer is a Registered Parliamentarian with the NAP. Our videos have been checked for accuracy by Registered Parliamentarians with the NAP. We have sold our videos at the NAP training conference last year and at two Biennial meetings--one in Detroit in 1995 and in San Diego in 1997.

We are members of the NAP and AIP. We are active in both NAP Units and AIP Chapters. Many Registered Parliamentarians have bought our first video "PARLIAMENTARY PROCEDURE MADE THE SIMPLE: THE BASICS" to show to their study units and on Cable TV. The video "How to Conduct a Meeting" is a shorter version of our first video.

What we would like to do is to have you as a distributor of our videos and we would give you a 50% discount on each video. To date we have four videos. "How to Conduct a Meeting"; (and a Spanish version, "Como Conducir Reuniones") Parliamentary Procedure Made Simple: The Basics, and "All About Motions".

Please let us know if you would like to do this and we will send them to Mrs. Wood for review.

The Parliamentarian


Dear Parliamentarian,

I am the president of a small athletic league. We are not incorporated, registered as non-profit or anything, our status is that of an association. However, we do have bylaws that are under revision at present. We have a board of directors that consists of seven elected league members. Additionally each team in the league has a designated team representative. These team representatives currently are only required to attend two semi-annual meetings of the board when we elect the board members (staggered elections). They are always welcome to attend any meeting and are notified well in advance of the meeting date and time. After the fact they all receive a written summary from a designated team rep captain whose job is to liase with the team reps and keep them informed.

One of the proposed revisions to the bylaws is that any motion made at a board meeting be tabled at that meeting and announced to all the team reps so that they have a chance to be heard on the subject (they still would not be able to vote on the subject but rather just be heard) at the next scheduled board meeting (we meet monthly). In our ten year history there has never been such a provision in our bylaws that we cannot vote on the business of the association during the meeting when a motion is made. I was wondering what your thoughts were on this, pro or con. I am newly elected and unsure of what correct procedure might be. By all accounts there has not been any past decisions that have been called into question where it is felt that this is needed but rather that this will protect us in the future.

I am of the personal opinion that many ideas that are brought to meetings where motions are made need a timely response. As long as a quorum of the duly elected board members are present I wonder why things need to wait another four weeks before they can be acted upon.

I await your guidance!! Great service you provide by the way. Also, is it presumed that our meetings are conducted according to Roberts rules or do we have to specifically announce this and vote on it. I am all for presiding over the most effective meeting possible. Thanks very much.

Lauren Ware

PS How do I find the services of a local parliamentarian?


Dear Lauren,

If you will give us your location we will see if there is a local parliamentarian in your area to help you.

Now to answer your question. What the members want to include in the bylaws are parliamentary rules. If the organization wants to have parliamentary rules different than the adopted authority, it must go into a document called "Rules of Order". These usually follow the bylaws. What makes them different that bylaws is that they can be suspended for a meeting. Even if they are included in the bylaws they can be suspended for a meeting.

Second, if they should decided to include this proposition, the correct procedure is to "postpone to the next meeting" not "to lay on the table."

I do not recommend including this in your bylaws because it takes away the right of the assembly to decide important and urgent matters at a meeting.

It sounds to me like someone on the committee has attended or perhaps been a member of a government board that presents an issue and then has to post it for the public to see for a month before they can decided it. This may be necessary for governmental bodies but not organizations like yours.

This is what I recommend you do. Look on our Web Site <> and go into the "Parliamentary Internet Newsletter". The second issue has a very good outline and description about writing bylaws and what should be included. Give this to the committee. Also suggest that they read the reference books listed at the end of that newsletter and be informed about what they are doing!

Bylaws are very important. How you structure the organization determines how much power is invested in the board and members. If they are concerned that the board has too much power then address that under the duties of the board. If they want the members to have more input, then have more than two meetings a year where the membership can make motions and vote on them.

There are other newsletters that have to do with procedures of amending and revising bylaws. You may want to print them all off and give them to your bylaws committee.

I hope this helps. If you need further assistance please write.

The Parliamentarian

PS. It sounds to me like the board members and bylaw committee do not understand basic parliamentary concepts. Did you see our bookstore on the WEB that sells videos and books to help members of organizations understand these concepts and rules.

Copyright 1998 Robert McConnell Productions, all rights reserved.