Familiarity with basic rules of parliamentary procedure makes it easier to follow along with the business portions of the Annual Meeting. This article for delegates and alternates outlines the common motion and secondary motion procedures used at business meetings—specifically at the Girl Scouts River Valleys' Annual Meeting.
The Motion Process
Under the rules of parliamentary procedure, business is brought before the council in the form of a motion, called a proposal. Processing a motion requires six steps:
A voting member makes a motion.
Another voting member seconds the motion.
The chair states the motion by repeating it. This formally places the motion before the assembly.
The chair asks for discussion on the motion. The person who made the original motion is given the first opportunity to speak. The chair then alternately calls on speakers who are AGAINST the motion and those who are FOR it.
The chair puts the motion to a vote. Each voting member casts her or his vote. Votes are tallied quickly, so the results (proposal adopted or defeated) are known in a short time-frame.
The chair announces the result of the vote.
The secondary motions used most commonly are amendments, previous question, and point of information.
Amendments change the wording of a proposal or of a previous amendment either by inserting words, striking (deleting) words, or doing both at once by striking and inserting. These are the most frequently used secondary motions. If the amendment is adopted, debate resumes on the main motion as amended, or the amendment as amended. If the amendment is defeated, debate resumes on the main motion or amendment as originally worded.
Scope of Notice
Amendments must be within the scope of notice of the pending motion. The scope is the range between the situation that currently exists and the change proposed in the motion. Anything within that range is in order, and anything outside that range is out of order.
All amendments must be germane or related to the motion being amended. An amendment cannot introduce a new subject.
If debate becomes repetitious and no new points are being made, a voting member may move the motion “previous question.” Adoption of this motion ends debate and amendment of the immediately pending question (or all pending questions, depending on how the motion is made) and the chair then puts the question to a vote. A two-thirds vote of all votes cast is required to adopt the previous question and have the assembly proceed immediately to a vote.
Point of Information
While engaged in a debate on a particular proposal, a voting member may want to ask a question about the proposal. If so, they go to the microphone and await recognition from the chair. When called to speak, the correct form is: “I rise to request information” or “Request information.” Please note that requests for information are stated in the form of a question. The purpose of requesting information is to get information, not to give information. The chair may respond to the question or call upon an appropriate resource person to answer.