ASK THE PARLIAMENTARIAN
BY MIKE SWIFT, VVA PARLIAMENTARIAN
Q: What do we do if the elected secretary does not come to
A: The minimum officers for a meeting are a presiding officer
and a secretary. Robert’s, page 21, line 5. In the
absence of the secretary, a secretary pro tem should be elected.
Robert’s, page 443, line 27.
Q: What is the difference
between a motion and a resolution?
A: The difference is the formality with which a resolution
is written. A main motion is frequently offered as a resolution,
either because of its importance or because of its length
or complexity. Robert’s, page 100, line 35. When special
circumstances make it desirable to include a brief statement
of background, the motion should be cast in the form of a
resolution, with the background or reasons incorporated in
a preamble that is placed before the resolving clauses. Robert’s,
page 102, line 12.
Q: Can a member at large attend any chapter
A: The chapter meetings I have attended have been open meetings
with guests and non-members observing but not participating
in the procedure unless specifically invited to do so. A
chapter has the right to determine who may be present at
its meetings and to control its hall while meetings are in
progress. Robert’s, page 625, line 10.
can be excluded at any time from part or all of a meeting
of a chapter or from all of its meetings. Such exclusion
can be effected by a ruling of the chair in cases of disorder,
or by the adoption of a rule on the subject, or by an appropriate
motion as the need arises. A motion to exclude all non-chapter
members is often referred to as a motion to “go into
executive session.” Robert’s,
page 625, line 11 and line 19.
Q: What can I do if a member
starts calling another member names?
A: When a member repeatedly questions the motives of other
members whom he mentions by name or persists in speaking
on completely irrelevant matters in debate, the chair or
any other member can “call the member to order.” The
chair may say: “The member is out of order and will
be seated.” Another member may, without waiting to
be recognized, say: “Mr. President, I call the member
to order,” then resume his seat. Robert’s, page
625, line 21.
Q: Does a member have to put a motion in writing?
A: If a motion is offered in wording that is not clear or
that requires smoothing before it can be recorded in the
minutes, it is the duty of the chair to see that the motion
is put into suitable form preserving the content to the satisfaction
of the mover before the question is stated. The chair should
not admit a motion that the secretary would have to paraphrase
for the record. The chair, either on his own initiative or
at the secretary’s request, can require any main motion,
amendment, or instructions to a committee to be in writing
before stating the question. Robert’s, page 38, line
Send your questions on parliamentary procedure to
firstname.lastname@example.org Answers are based on Robert’s
Rules of Order, Newly Revised 10th Edition.