Tuesday, December 10, 1991

Parliamentary Procedure - Just the Basics

Our sessions operate within a framework of Robert's Rules of Parliamentary Procedure. This helps us to do our business quickly, fairly and orderly.

To make a motion, simply say, "I move that the session..." and then state the action you would like to see the session take. A motion ought to state clearly:
 what we are doing
 when we will do it
 who will be responsible for it
 how it will be funded, or the limit to which it will be funded.

The motion "I move that we paint the church" may be a much-needed motion, but it leaves so many unanswered questions that the elders will find at their next meeting that nothing has happened. "I move that the Communications and Resources Ministry Team arrange for the church to be painted this month using $300 from the maintenance budget" is a much better motion because it states what we are doing, when it will be done, who will do the work, and how it will be funded.

Every motion needs a second, unless it comes as a committee report. After the motion has been seconded, discussion can follow. Some of the most common results of a motion are
 approval
 disapproval
 amending the motion, so that it changes slightly
 substituting another motion, so that a completely different course of action is taken
 tabling the motion
 committing the matter to a committee for further study

Common mistakes to avoid:
 Asking questions or discussing the motion when the moderator calls for a second. Solution: Wait for the second and then discuss.
 Waiting until after the vote has been taken to ask questions or discuss the issue. Solution: Speak out before the vote.
 Raising a new issue in the middle of a discussion. Solution: Wait until the session completes its discussion on the new youth program before you raise your idea about painting the sanctuary.
 Being confused about what we are voting on, especially after a lengthy debate. Solution: When the vote is about to take place, ask the Clerk of Session to read the motion.

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