Parliamentary Procedure

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THE CHAIR/FACILITATOR

The facilitator has the right to determine process on a case-by-case basis if matters arise which are not covered in our bylaws or this document.

QUORUM

Two-thirds of the total number of Directors and at least half of the units represented. If quorum is lost during the meeting, the meeting may continue as long as one half of Directors are present. However, passing any motion requires a vote of more than one third of the total number of directors.

MOTIONS

A motion is a statement symbolizing collective action. Board "does" things by passing motions.

▪ The chair may rule any motion "out of order" if they feel that the motion is inappropriate or outside the scope of current discussion.
▪ A "second" is another person who supports the motion.
▪ Non-debatable motions are voted on immediately. Debatable motions can be discussed.
Main Motion: Action items begin with one main motion, which should be the focus of discussion. Main motions usually require a simple majority to pass.
Amendments: Amendments alter part of the main motion. If an amendment is relatively minor so as not to change the intent of the motion, it may be determined “friendly” by the mover of the main motion. If it is not friendly, it is run separately as an amendment to the main motion. The Chair should focus the discussion on dealing with non-friendly amendments as they arise to keep the conversation moving.
Competing Motion: A counter motion that contradicts the main motion may be made. If changes are so big as to change the motion significantly, the amendment will be run as a competing main motion against the main motion. These are rare, and should be handled with precision to make sure the discussion stays focused.
Motion to... Description Second Required? Debatable? To pass?
Extend time Extends the current agenda item by a specific length. Motions cannot be made after time has run out. No No Simple super majority
Cap the speaker's list After this motion passes, the President adds anyone who would like to speak to the speaker's list, then closes it. No motions may be made after the speaker's list is capped. Voting takes place once the speaker's list is finished. No No Simple super majority
Postpone to a later time Put the main motion and any attached motions on a temporary hold, to later in the same meeting or to another meeting Yes Yes Simply majority
Enter Executive Session Executive session is a closed meeting. Only motions and votes are recorded in the minutes. Only members of Board may be present, but Board may designate other persons to stay with a super majority vote. This motion requires a second and is debatable. Yes Yes Simple super majority
Refer to Committee Send an item to a committee with instructions for further development. Yes Yes Simple majority
Reconsider Bring up an old issue that has already been voted on. Yes Yes Simple super majority
Overrule the Chair Overrule a decision which is a procedural error. Do this when the chair is wrong or has misused their authority, not when a decision is simply inconvenient for you. Yes Yes, but debate should be limited Simple super majority
Other motions "Incidental" or "Subsidiary" motions for running the meeting, such as adjourning. The Chair may often prompt the group for one. Yes No Simple majority

SPEAKERS’ LIST

The speaker’s list is a tool for the Chair to organize the discussion efficiently, effectively and inclusively. The Chair should periodically collect names of those who wish to speak, indicated by making one of the gestures below:

Motions are signaled by a thumbs-up. Motions generally take priority above questions and comments. “Action Items” always revolve around a prepared motion, usually to approve some policy, program, or action.

Motion.JPG

Comments and rhetorical questions are signaled by making a “C” with your hand. Comments are for stating your opinion on the issue to persuade others to your line of thinking. If the discussion is monopolized by a few members of the board, the Chair may attempt to draw others into the conversation by hearing the comments of members who have not yet spoken. If there are many on the list, a 45-second time limit is recommended.

Comment.JPG

Questions are signaled by a crooked index finger. They will usually receive priority above comments, but if the list is long the Chair may alternate between the questions list and the statements list in an equitable fashion.

Question.JPG

Points of Information are signaled by a raised index finger. These are for making brief statements of fact when you believe that the group is unaware of some critical piece of information.

Point of Information.JPG

Procedural errors and questions about the facilitation process (e.g. “this needs to be a ⅔ majority” or “first the VPIA speaks, then questions”) are signaled by making a triangle with both thumbs and index fingers.

Procedural Error.JPG

**note: Direct Responses and Points (of personal privilege, order) are not used at Board, as they are frequently abused.**

KEEPING TIME

All agenda items are allocated a set amount of time. Typically the Chair or a Vice President will keep time for each item, and they will be responsible for announcing when time is up. When time runs out, the Board will immediately vote on extending time by either 5 or 10 minutes, at the discretion of the Chair. If the vote fails any live motions will immediately be voted on.

ENDING DISCUSSION

There are two ways to end discussion and call a vote with time remaining:

Call the Question: When one believes enough debate has occurred, one may call for a vote on the motion by saying “call the question” at any time. If anyone objects or still wishes to speak discussion continues down the speaker’s list. If there are no objections discussion ends and a vote takes place. This is the “Hare” way of moving to a vote: fast but easily stopped.
Move the Question: One must be on the comments list to move the question, and may not make any other comment. This cuts off debate and causes an immediate vote on whether or not to end discussion and vote on the motions as they stand (a “vote to vote”). Ending discussion requires a simple super majority. This is the “Tortoise” way of moving to a vote: slower but more stable.

VOTING

Either a voice vote or a hand vote may be used.

Voice Vote: “All in favor say ‘aye’; all opposed say ‘nay’. All abstaining.” Used when the Chair believes there are few objections to the motion. Often used for approving minutes, the agenda, and the consent agenda.
Hand Vote: Used when things seem more contentious. Any member can request a hand vote as opposed to a voice vote.


VOTING REQUIREMENTS

Simple Majority: More than 50% of the votes cast; does not include abstentions in the count. A simple super majority requires more than 2/3 of the votes cast. Almost all votes Board takes are “simple” unless said otherwise.
Absolute Majority: More than 50% of all eligible votes. This includes abstentions (i.e. abstentions, for all intents and purposes, are counted as “no”). An absolute super majority requires more than 2/3 of all eligible votes.


MINUTES

The Board Administrative Assistant is responsible for taking and summarizing minutes. They are reviewed by the BSC President and then approved at Board, where final edits to the minutes can be made.

RATIONALE

Common procedures come from Robert’s Rules of Order. In 1990, Board began to use these “Pool Rules” of order, a simpler version of Robert’s Rules. The intention behind this simple parliamentary procedure is that anyone can understand our process by looking at a few pages, compared to Robert’s Rules: 700 pages; and Robert’s Rules in Brief: 176 pages. Complicated procedures have the capability to disenfranchise those unfamiliar with the process and to give undue power to those who are familiar with the process, which the board needs to be aware of given our vast membership and democratic values.