2016-2017 Parliamentarian’s Corner 3: Tabling

Motion to Lay on the Table – aka Tabling a Main Motion

Purpose: As we discussed previously, a huge advantage to utilizing Robert’s Rules is that it provides structure to our meetings and designates methods for achieving various goals. Sometimes, a topic currently under discussion (main motion) must be set aside in order to allow for urgent or necessary business to be addressed first. Robert’s Rules accounts for this situation with a motion allowing a topic to be “laid on the table” – better known as “tabling”. Since this motion can be confusing, sometimes it is used incorrectly. That is why we are addressing it for September’s Parliamentarian’s Corner.

How it Works: The motion to lay on the table allows an assembly to lay a motion or series of motions temporarily aside to allow for urgent or necessary business. After dispensing of the urgent or necessary business, a motion to take from the table should be provided to allow the assembly to resume its previous business.

Should there be no time remaining at the current meeting, the business that has been laid on the table should be taken up during the next meeting. If the motions or series of motions is not taken from the table at the subsequent meeting, all motions that were laid on the table during the initial meeting are considered defeated and may not be reconsidered in the same form at a later date.

The motions to lay on the table and take from the table take precedence over the vast majority of motions. These two motions require a “second” from another Brother, but are not debatable (do not qualify for an allotted amount of debate time). Therefore, a vote should be taken immediately after the motion is made and seconded. A simple majority of 50% +1 Brothers attending the assembly and voting affirmatively are needed for passage of either motion.

Example:

  • Your Chapter is discussing a motion to establish an annual blood drive with a total budget of $500 to be held in conjunction with the American Red Cross.
  • An amendment is made to increase the budget to $600 to allow for additional supplies
  • 5 minutes of the allotted 15 minutes of discussion has transpired for the amendment
  • A Brother notices that there are only 15 minutes remaining until the meeting will be concluded, and your chapter must discuss the date/time of your next meeting (what the Brother considers to be more urgent business).
  • This Brother may make a motion to lay the amendment and main motion on the table.
  • A vote on laying the motions on the table should be held immediately and, should 50% + 1 Brothers agree, the motions are successfully laid on the table temporarily.
    • If the chapter only takes 5 minutes to decide the date/time of the next meeting…
      • A Brother may make a motion to take the motion (total budget of annual blood drive) from the table
      • Then, discussion of the amendment (increasing the budget to $600) will resume with 10 minutes of debate remaining.
    • If the chapter takes 15 minutes to decide the date/time of the next meeting….
      • During the next meeting, a motion to take these motions from the table should be provided to allow for continued discussion.
      • Again, discussion of the amendment (increasing the budget to $600) will resume with 10 minutes of debate remaining.
    • If the motion is not taken from the table at the initial meeting or next meeting, all motions that were laid on the table will be defeated

Two other similar motions exist, which are those to postpone until a specified time or indefinitely. These options will be discussed during the October Parliamentarian’s Corner.

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