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"Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty" - Henry M Robert



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Mind Benders and Brain Teasers:

This is where we will post questions and situations that will test your knowledge of parliamentary procedure. If you have a parliamentary Mind Bender or Brain Teaser that you would like to share, send it to and we will print the best ones here. Unless otherwise noted, the parliamentary authority is Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised (RONR), 10th edition. The informal parliamentary opinions expressed here follow general principles of parliamentary law and Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised (RONR), 10th edition, and are based solely on the brief summary of facts presented, without the benefit of having reviewed the bylaws and other governing documents. An association's own bylaws, covenants, Articles of Incorporation, Special Rules of Order, and local or state laws will supersede what RONR says. A significant difference in facts could result in different conclusions being reached. If there is much at stake, readers are encouraged to seek a formal written parliamentary opinion from a Professional Registered Parliamentarian, which includes a thorough review of the organization's bylaws and governing documents. Nothing here should be construed as an interpretation of statutory law.

Answer to Mind Bender for August 2004:

Question: A motion was made two months ago for an expenditure of funds and passed. At a meeting where the Chairman of the committee was not present, a member made a motion to change the earlier motion to an amount of funds that was less than the amount previously adopted. Is this in accordance with the rules?

All references are to RONR 10th ed

Answer: Yes, by way of a motion to Rescind or Amend Something Previously Adopted. Refer to RONR p. 293-294:
By means of the motions to Rescind and to Amend Something Previously Adopted - which are two forms of one incidental main motion governed by identical rules - the assembly can change an action previously taken or ordered. Rescind - also known as Repeal or Annul - is the motion by which a previous action or order can be canceled or countermanded. The effect of Rescind is to strike out an entire main motion, resolution, rule, bylaw, section, or paragraph that has been adopted at some previous time. Amend Something Previously Adopted is the motion that can be used if it is desired to change only a part of the text, or to substitute a different version.

In an assembly, except when applied to a constitution, bylaws, or special rules of order, a motion to Rescind or Amend Something Previously Adopted requires:

  1. a two-thirds vote,

  2. a majority vote when notice of intent to make the motion, stating the complete substance of the proposed change, has been given at the previous meeting or in the call of the present meeting, or

  3. a vote of a majority of the entire membership - whichever is most practical to obtain.

In a committee, these motions require a two-thirds vote unless all committee members who voted for the motion to be rescinded or amended are present or have received ample notice, in which case they require a majority vote.

Also, if this is a committee meeting, refer to RONR p. 319 for another option, i.e. a motion to Reconsider:

  1. A motion to reconsider a vote in the committee can be made and taken up regardless of the time that has elapsed since the vote was taken, and there is no limit to the number of times a question can be reconsidered.

  2. The motion can be made by any member of the committee who did not vote with the losing side; or, in other words, the maker of the motion to Reconsider can be one who voted with the prevailing side, or one who did not vote at all, or even was absent.

  3. Unless all the members of the committee who voted with the prevailing side are present or have been notified that the reconsideration will be moved, it requires a two-thirds vote to adopt the motion to Reconsider.
    In other respects, reconsideration in a committee is the same as in a meeting of the society or its board.




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