Can the chair refuse to take a motion? What recourse do other board members have?

The chair can refuse to take a regular motion. There are certain special motions that the chair must take. Under parliamentary procedure, the usual reason that a chair would refuse a motion is that it is `out of order.' For example, a board member makes a new motion before the previous motion has been resolved. Or perhaps the motion is not relevant to the agenda item under discussion.

According to Roberts Rules of Order ….

Motions that the chair should rule out of order are …

  • Motions that conflict with the law or with the bylaws.
  • Motions that repeat the same question on the same day.
  • Motions that conflict with an already adopted motion
  • Motions that operate outside the scope or object of the organization
  • Motions that  conflict with or repeat motions held in committee
  • Motions that appear dilatory, incorrect frivolous, or rude

However, there is no requirement for the chair to take a regular motion, so he or she can refuse for any reason or none at all. Any board member can then make a motion to over-rule the decision of the chair. The motion to over-rule the chair is one of the types of special motions that the chair must accept. If the motion to over-rule the chair is seconded and passes, then the decision of the chair is reversed and the original motion (the one the chair refused to take) must be heard.

 To protest the ruling of the chair you may make a motion similar to …

“I appeal the decision of the Chair.” With a second and majority vote of the board, the chair’s decision can be reversed.

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