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Dear Parliamentarian Vol. 80 Oct. 2002

Dear Parliamentarian Vol. 80  Oct. 2002
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. wrote:


As an Advisor in a meeting, is it proper for the Advisor to make a motion.

Such as a motion to receive the minutes of a previous meeting.

Also, is it proper for a person not attending the previous meeting to make a

motion to receive the mintue?

Thanks for your response.

If you are a member of the organization then it is proper for you to make the motion.  If you are not a member then you can't make a motion.   A person who was not at the meeting can make a motion to receive the minutes.
    However, the proper way to handle the minutes is for the presiding officer to ask the secretary to read the minutes and then ask for corrections.  This is done immediately after the meeting is called to order and after any opening ceremonies.  The reading and approving the minutes are always the first item of business at a meeting.

The Parliamentarian


william white wrote:

If a rule must have a unanimous vote by the governing board to pass and all board members vote yea and one board member votes to absend,does the vote pass and how is it to be recorded.  From

 Dear William,
    Tell me what it states in the bylaws.  " a unanimous vote of those present and voting, of those voting, of those present, or of the entire board."  That will help.

The Parliamentarian

Barbara Skiff wrote:

Dear Parliamentarian,

I am in the third year of being President of a 50 year old Civic Group.

This past Spring we made many changes to our Constitution and one of the

changes was to have all discussion before we make a motion.  Our

Constitution says what is not listed in the Constitution follows Roberts

Rules.  Since the members(all women) prefer to have the discussion

before making the motion, I pushed to have it written in our

Constitution since Roberts Rules calls for the motion to be made and the

discussion follows.  I am wondering how this affects Previous Question.

If someone calls for Previous Question, do we still have to vote on

Previous Question to stop the debate?  Since no motion is made until all

our discussion stops, if someone calls Previous Question in the middle

of our discussion, should I just ask if everyone wants to stop debating

and  make the motion and vote or should I still have the members vote on

Previous Question to stop the debate and make the motion and then vote.


Dear Barbara,
    First, I would like to remind you that any parliamentary rules written into a constitution should be put in what we call "rules of order."  Second any parliamentary rules written into a constitution can be suspended.  It is hard to make the motion previous question without a main motion on the floor.  This is what I suggest.  That you adopt a rule of order that at any time during this informal discussion that someone can ask to have a motion made.  If after the motion is made, members can still discuss it if they wish until the previous question is adopted or the members are ready to take a vote.

The Parliamentarian

 cecilia wrote:

Dear parliamentarian:

I am a labor representative in our local paper mill. During a recent meeting, a member made a motion, but during the voting phase however, he voted against it. Is this considered proper.  His motion urged the membership present to accept a certain company offer contingent upon some other action.


Yves Dube

Dear Yves,
    Yes, it is proper to make a motion and then vote against it.  It is not proper to make a motion and then speak against it.

The Parliamentarian

Anne Marie wrote:

To Whom It May Concern, I wrote to you back in August and we exchanged a few e-mails. I have recently received a letter from the President of the board of directors of my condominium complex and it was in response to a letter I had written to them about meeting minutes and why they do not include certain details in some situations and sometimes they get very detailed and here is what the letter states:

The following Robert's Rules of Order applies:  Minutes are an impartial account of the business accomplished at a specific meeting. They summarize what happened at the meeting in a straightforward narrative style.  The minutes do not include the following items:
1}Personal opinion or commentary
2}Direct transcription of meeting dialogue or conversation
3}Names of members who second a motion, unless specifically required in the bylaws
4}Discussion of motions
5}Mention of withdrawn motions. I believe the above anwsers your questions.   The President of the Association

The reason why I am sending you the details of what The Pres. of the Association sent me is because I want to know are his rules in the RCW codes somewhere and if they are what section? If they are not can this be ok for the association board members to refer to his rules on questions that have been brought up to the board? I would be very grateful if you could help me again.
Sincerely, Anne Marie

 Dear Anne Marie,
    Every organization needs a parliamentary authority.  Evidently your association either has it provided for in the bylaws or governing documents somewhere.  What he has quoted is somewhat correct.  A motion that is withdrawn is not included in the minutes unless it carries over from a previous meeting and then it is included in the minutes.  The non profit codes and codes for condo and homeowner associations usually do not include what is included in the minutes.
    We all need an impartial set of rules to govern us.  So, yes, definitely the president can refer to Robert's Rules of Order  in this matter.  That is what it is designed to do --handle misunderstandings such as these.  Why don't you get a copy of our book Webster's New World Robert's Rules of ORder Simplified and Applied.  The best defense is to know the rules yourself.  
    We are also coming out with a very detailed training manual for secretaries and what should or should not be in the minutes.  It also includes other information, too.  This subject on the minutes is not as easy as it first appears.  I have learned a lot from my research on this subject.  Hopefully it will be coming out at the end of this year or early next year. You might find it helpful and so may your association.

The Parliamentarian


Tyrone White wrote:

Dear Parliamentarian,

I would very much appreciate your help on the following question.

 Does the President of an organization have the right to invoke presidential privilege and bestow an honorary membership upon a speaker at any annual scholarship luncheon without the knowledge or approval of the Scholarship Committe or its Chair: If the By-Laws & Constitution of our organization does not provide for honorary membership and is also silent on the issue of presidential privilege?

Thank you,

Tyrone White, Chairman

TAN Scholarship Committee

 Dear Tyrone,
    Your president can only do what the bylaws state that he can do and what the membership allows him to get away with.  

The Parliamentarian wrote:

Dear Parliamentarian,

Our church currently has an 80% majority required for approval on some

matters. Many members are uncomfortable with this rule, but aren’t really

sure why it’s not a good idea. Can you give me some explanations as to why

requiring and 80% majority is NOT a good idea? Thanks for your help.


Lori Jessen

Buchanan Avenue Baptist Church

Sioux City, IA

Dear Lori,
    The basic rule in democratic societies is that the majority rules.  That means more than half.  In cases where people's rights are being taken away, the rule is that this takes a two-thirds vote.  This is a protection to those whose rights are being infringed.  So such motions are close or limit debate, suspend the rules, voting on a motion to rescind something previously adopted with no previous notice, takes a two thirds vote or a majority of the entire membership.  Amending the bylaw laws takes previous notice and a two-thirds vote.  In the case of bylaws, the vote is higher because governing documents are of such importance it needs to have a higher vote and previous notice.  This is a protection of the whims of the majority changing the rules anytime it doesn't suit them.
    Now concerning something that takes an 80% vote.  What this kind of a vote does, is allow the minority to rule instead of the majority.  If ten people are present at a meeting, why should three people be able to stop something the majority and even two-thirds of the members wish to do.  This is allow a small group of people to control the church by not allowing something to go forward.  The reason the members probably wanted this high of vote was to ensure the unanimity of the members.  Some things may be so important that a higher vote is required.  For example, in hiring a pastor.  If it was only done by a majority vote, then it is possible that the pastor would have 49% not liking him and perhaps even opposing him which does not make for a happy church.
    In resolving this issue, the church body needs to decide why they have chosen 80% for certain things.  Once they examine the motives and reasons why then you will know if it is fair.  It is my personal opinion that at two-thirds vote is a high enough requirement concerning most issues of great magnitude.

The Parliamentarian