Questions and Answers

These questions are examples of questions typically asked regarding procedure in business meetings.  The answers are based on Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised 12th Edition (RONR).  If you have questions of a general nature, you may send them to:  Although we are unable to respond to individual questions, we may address questions submitted in the future on our website.

1. How do you introduce business in a meeting?

Answer:  By presenting a motion to take action.

2. How do you amend a main motion?

Answer:  A main motion may be amended by striking out, inserting, or striking out, and inserting.  If an amendment requires inserting and/or striking out in several places, then a substitute motion may be offered.

3. How many amendments may be made to a main motion?

Answer:  Two amendments may be made to a main motion; a primary amendment, which must be germane to the motion, and a secondary amendment, which must be germane to the primary amendment.

4. How is the vote taken on a motion that has been amended?

Answer:  The vote is first taken on the last amendment made.  If a secondary amendment was offered, debate and vote are taken on that amendment first.  If the secondary amendment is adopted then the primary amendment, as amended is debated and voted on.  If the primary amendment as amended is adopted debate and vote are then taken on the motion as amended.

5. What is a substitute motion?

Answer:  A substitute motion is treated as a primary amendment.  A substitute motion may be offered when there is a desire to strike, insert or strike, and insert words or a phrase in more than one place in a motion.  However; often, groups fail to take two votes.  Debate followed by a vote is taken on “shall the motion be substituted”; if adopted, the motion as substituted is debated and a vote taken.

6. What is a friendly amendment?

Answer:  A friendly amendment may be offered and accepted by the maker of the motion up until the motion is stated by the chair.  After the motion is stated by the chair amendments to the motion must be seconded and a vote taken.

7. Can standing committees make decisions and appropriate funds from the organization?

Answer:  Unless the organization’s governing documents extend authority to the standing committee to take action, a standing committee serves only in an advisory role and makes recommendations to the organization or board for action.

8. What can a member do when they want to end debate and vote?

Answer:  A member may move the previous question.  The motion requires a second and a 2/3 vote.  Often, a member speaks out “I call the question” or a chair may say “I’m calling the question” and the chair proceeds to call for the vote on the motion.  No one member, including the chair, may end debate, which takes away the rights of the members to discuss and debate a motion.  The motion to end debate must be adopted by a vote of 2/3.  If adopted,  the motion on the floor is voted on without further debate.

9. What is the very best time saver for organizations that have adopted RONR as their parliamentary authority?

Answer:  The use of unanimous consent is one of the very best time savers in business meetings.  The use of unanimous consent may be used to approve minutes, adjourn a meeting, refer an item to a committee, and for many other proposed actions.  However, if just 1 member objects, the item is immediately on the floor as a motion which may be debated and amended before a vote is taken.   Example:  The chair may state: “without objection, the minutes of the previous meeting will be approved”.  The chair should pause and then state: “hearing no objection, the minutes of the previous meeting are approved”.

10. What is one of the worse misconceptions in business meetings?

Answer:  One of the worse misconceptions in business meetings is that the chair has complete authority over the meeting.  The chair presides and shall make various rulings on motions, whether they are in order if they have been adopted or failed, etc.  However, it is the assembly, the members present, who have the responsibility to hold the chair accountable.  This is done by calling a point of order, and if needed, following through with a motion to appeal from the decision of the chair.