This is a quick guide on how to delay action on a pending question for a definite period of time or until after a certain event.
- What motion should you use to postpone a motion or an action to a specific time?
Use the motion called Postpone to a Certain Time.
- What is the difference between a postponement that is a general order and a postponement that is a special order?
- If a motion is postponed as a general order, when the time arrives for it to be considered, the group is allowed to finish whatever it is considering at the time, and then take up the motion that was postponed.
- If a motion is postponed as a special order, then when the time arrives for it to be considered, whatever the group is considering at the time must immediately be set aside and the motion that was postponed must be taken up.
- Note: The default is to postpone as a general order. If a member wants to postpone a motion as a special order, then the member needs to specify that when making the motion to postpone.
- What should you say?
Say this: “I move to postpone consideration of the motion until 11:30 AM.” OR “I move to postpone consideration of the motion until after we’ve heard the executive director’s report.”
- When can you make this motion?
You can make this motion anytime that the following other motions are not on the floor: Limit or Extend Limits on Debate, Previous Question, Lay on the Table, Call for the Orders of the Day, Raise a Question of Privilege, Recess, Adjourn, or Fix the Time to Which to Adjourn.
- Can you interrupt another speaker to make this motion?
No. You must first be recognized by the Chair.
- Does someone have to say, “Second” after this motion is proposed?
- Can people debate the pros and cons of this motion?
Yes, you may debate the pros and cons of the postponement.
- Can this motion be amended?
You can amend it as to the specific time to which the motion is postponed. You may also amend whether it is a general or special order.
- How many votes does this motion need to pass?
- The following motions are on the floor:
- Main Motion
- The group has been discussing the main motion for a period of time.
- A member of the group thinks that the group would benefit from delaying a decision on the main motion.
- The member seeks recognition by the Chair, and once recognized, says, “I move to postpone consideration of this motion until 10:45 AM as a special order.”
- Another member says, “Second.”
- The Chair asks if there is any discussion on the motion to postpone.
- Following discussion, the Chair takes a vote on the motion to postpone.
- If at least two-thirds vote in the affirmative, then the motion is postponed until 10:45 AM as a special order.
- When the time is 10:45 AM, the group should stop whatever business it is considering at the time and take up the main motion and the amendment that was pending when the motion was postponed.
- If less than two-thirds vote in the affirmative, discussion continues on the main motion.
What the Pros Know
- A motion cannot be postponed beyond the end of a current meeting if the next meeting will not be held for more than a quarterly time interval (more than three months).
- If the next meeting will be held within a quarterly time interval, then the motion can be postponed to the next meeting, but not beyond it.
- If a group wants to postpone a motion to a meeting that has not yet been scheduled, the group needs to first schedule that meeting by adopting a motion to Fix the Time to Which to Adjourn. Once that meeting is scheduled, the group can postpone the main motion to that meeting.
- If the time arrives for consideration of a motion that has been postponed, and the group is not yet ready to consider it, the motion can be postponed again.
- A motion may not be postponed for so long that the subject of the motion becomes moot. In other words, you cannot postpone a motion about holding a fundraising event past the time when the fundraising event is supposed to be held. Doing so is effectively a motion to kill the main motion, and to accomplish this, a member should use the motion to Postpone Indefinitely.
- It is not appropriate to postpone an entire class of business, such as the reports of officers and committees. Items of business must be postponed individually. If the group wants to delay an entire segment of organizational business, it should adopt a motion to suspend the rules and then should alter the agenda.
- Once a group has voted to postpone a motion to a specific time in the future, that motion cannot be taken up before that time unless the group reconsiders its vote to postpone.
- Once the time has arrived for consideration of a motion that has been postponed, the Chair simply introduces the business by stating the motion that is before the group. No separate motion is needed to put the postponed motion back on the floor at that time.
- When a motion is postponed and other motions are pending—like the motion to amend or the motion to refer, for example—then those other motions are postponed as well, and when the main motion comes back to the group after postponement, those other motions come back with it.
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