Senate Meeting Rules

Motions for Specific Purposes


The sections below list the most frequent motions according to their objects and describe the procedures followed in using them.

Neither a motion "To Table" nor a motion for the "Previous Question" is in order at meetings of Senate.

1. To Prevent or Postpone Action

The following motions are designed to prevent or postpone action on a motion:

(a) To Object to Consideration: If passed, the question to which it applies may not be raised again until the next meeting. It requires no second, cannot be debated or amended, and requires a two-thirds (2/3) vote. It may be moved at any time (even interrupting a speaker) before the motion objected to is formally before the house for debate; i.e. before it has been "stated".

(b) To Withdraw a Motion: Before a motion is formally open to debate, it may be withdrawn at will by its original mover. After that time, it may be withdrawn only with the consent of Senate. If a single member objects to withdrawal, then a formal motion to withdraw must be moved, seconded, and voted upon without debate. If withdrawn, the motion may not be made again until another meeting.

(c) To Postpone to a Fixed Time: This interrupts consideration of the business to which it relates. It can be amended only by changing the time specified and is debatable only with respect to the propriety of the postponement, it requires a simple majority for passage.

(d) To Postpone Indefinitely: This motion interrupts consideration of business; may not be amended, and is debatable only with respect to the propriety of the postponement. It requires a simple majority for passage.

(e) To Commit or Recommit: If the motion is adopted, the subject under consideration is referred to committee or committees. When the committee named is the same as that which reported the original question to the meeting, the motion is to recommit. It may be debated and amended, and requires a simple majority.

2. Motions to Hasten or Expedite (all requiring two-thirds majority)

(a) To Close Debate: If adopted, such a motion has the effect of causing an immediate vote on the question to which it applies. Unless otherwise specified, it applies to the principal motion and all related amendments. Such a motion may not be debated or amended. It requires a two-thirds (2/3) majority for passage

(b) To Suspend a Rule: This motion applies to a specific question under consideration, and the rule or rules suspended are in force again as soon as the question under consideration is disposed of. The motion interrupts consideration of the business to which it applies. It cannot be debated or amended. It requires a two-thirds (2/3) vote for passage.

(c) To Limit Debate: This motion has the effect of fixing a time at which debate on a subject shall be terminated. It is not debatable, but it can be amended as to time. The amendment may be debated. A motion to limit debate requires a two-thirds (2/3) vote for passage.

3. To Change a Decision

(a) To Reconsider a Question: A motion to reconsider a resolution may be made at the same or any subsequent meeting. This motion can be applied either to negative or positive action taken previously on a main motion or amendment. It must be moved and seconded by members who did not vote on the losing side in the first instance (i.e. who either voted affirmatively or abstained).

The mover may not interrupt a vote, but may interrupt another speaker. If made when it interrupts the discussion of other business, the motion to reconsider is held until the business interrupted is disposed of. It may be debated, but cannot be amended. It requires a simple majority.

If passed, it invalidates previous action on a question, that question becoming the next item of business. If rejected, a motion to reconsider cannot again be entertained.

(b) To Rescind a Resolution: At any meeting after that at which a motion was adopted, a member may move to rescind it. If the motion to rescind is adopted, the previous action is cancelled. The motion to rescind is debatable and amendable. It requires a simple majority if notice has been given; if not, it requires support of either two-thirds (2/3) of those present and voting, or a majority of the total membership of Senate, whichever is the greater number.

4. Motion to Maintain Rules

(a) Point of Order: The Chair may interrupt any speaker on any business at any time to call a member to order, or to rule a motion out of order. Similarly, a member may interrupt a speaker or business by rising to a point of order which, when stated, is decided upon by the Chair immediately. There shall be no second, or debate, except that the Chair may, at the Chair's discretion, submit the question to the meeting and permit a brief debate thereon.

(b) Appeal from Decision of the Chair: Such an appeal must be immediately after the disputed ruling. It must be seconded. It can be debated, but not amended. It requires a majority vote. If there is a tie-vote, the challenge shall be considered defeated.

(c) Parliamentary Questions and Matters of Privilege: Any member may interrupt a speaker or any business in order to request information regarding proper procedure or with respect to facts under discussion. The Chair immediately rules as to whether the question or request is a proper interruption and acts accordingly. There is the usual right of appeal from the Chair's ruling.