About the Unit
The third Tuesday of each month
9:30 to noon
September through May
Location: the First Presbyterian Church of Birmingham, 1669 W Maple Rd, Birmingham. The May meeting is at the Village Club in Bloomfield Hills.
The first Louise Saks Parliamentary Unit meeting of the year began with an educational lesson on the basics:
"How Decisions are Made"
Leaders Joan Heinicke and Gretchen Denton outlined the process of making main motions, the way that all business comes before an assembly. In a meeting one does not begin just talking about an idea, but one begins by making a motion and then the talking (debate) takes place.
There is special language to use that is: “I move that…” or “I move to…” After a second by another member the person chairing the meeting states the motion and discussion begins in an orderly way. It would work like this: a member of the assembly obtains the floor by rising and when recognized states the motion such as “I move that we sponsor a student rally for climate change on September 20.”
After thorough debate on the merits of the idea, the Chair puts the question and members vote in favor by saying “aye” or opposed by saying “no.” Along the way there can be amendments made to the main motion; it may be referred to a special committee: it may be postponed until the next meeting, but in the end the group has made a decision and then proceeds to implement the motion.
A couple of questions came up in this lesson:
The information for this lesson came from Robert’s Rules of Order in Brief. I highly recommend it as a way to learn basic parliamentary procedure AND it’s a way to learn so you can be a member of the National Association of Parliamentarians (NAP) at www.parliamentarians.org. While at that website, go to the online store where you can get your own In Brief.
Our next meeting will be October 15, 2019, the first Tuesday of the month at the First Presbyterian Church, 1669 West Maple, Birmingham. Guests are always welcome to our program and meeting that is over by noon. The next lesson is Writing Resolutions and Platforms.
Program Highlights from 2015-2016
May 16, 2015 - Dissolution of a Society
It can happen. A club that was going strong and saving the world fifteen years ago can hardly get a quorum for meetings. An issue was so very important is being managed in a new way. Planting flowers in the park is now being done by the city.
When an organization is no longer important or it can no longer attract members, money or leadership it may be time to make a decision about the organization’s future. While there may be various options, sometimes it’s time to dissolve the society.
If the society is not incorporated and has no assets, it’s relatively easy to accomplish dissolution. The society gives notice to its members just as if they were going to amend the bylaws and then takes a vote at a meeting called especially for that purpose or at a regular meeting. Some organizations have provisions in the bylaws for dissolution; in that case you would follow those and distribute the assets as outlined.
If the society is incorporated it’s a little more complicated because you then need to fill out state forms where you are incorporated. A 501c(3) organization must be sure to assign its assets to another 501c(3) organization. Obviously all bills must be paid and previous commitments need to be fulfilled.
Again, you follow the bylaw provisions for amending bylaws or, if there is a clause for dissolution it needs to be followed. Especially with an organization that is incorporated it is good to ask an attorney how to proceed to dissolve. Assets, including endowment funds, must be properly disposed of in accordance with bylaws and state law.
During its last two years the Louise Saks Parliamentary Unit (LSPU) created a fake unincorporated society called The Garden Gnome Society. Alas, it’s served its purpose as a learning tool. With a mixture of sadness and joy, the members dissolved The Garden Gnome Society by a two-thirds vote of members present and voting at the May 17, 2016 annual meeting, grateful for the pleasure of enjoying those strange little characters every month.
Beginning in September LSPU will continue its monthly meetings the third Tuesday, 9:30 a.m. at First Presbyterian Church, 1669 West Maple, Birmingham, Michigan. In the coming year our lesson topics will all be By the Book—Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised (RONR) Of Course! The September 20 topic will be the Order of Business. Guests are always welcome
March 2016 Meeting Highlights: LSPU Meeting
What’s a privileged motion?
At its recent meeting, members of the Louise Saks Parliamentary Unit, thoughtfully considered the nature of all privileged motions and the specific characteristics that affect a meeting’s flow.
What is a privileged motion? It is a special kind of motion that deals with privileges of the assembly and privileges of individuals in a meeting, special matters of immediate importance. Because they are of immediate importance, none of the privileged motions offer an opportunity for debate.
There are five privileged motions and while they do not directly relate to the pending motion of the floor, they do have a ranked order with their order as follows:
Call for the Orders of the Day Raise a Question of Privilege
Fix the Time to Which to Adjourn.
With their ranked order it would not be in order to call for the orders of the day when the motion to recess is pending. But, it would be in order to move to recess while the lower ranking call for the orders of the day is pending.
Each has a particular description related to the matter of privilege.
Call for the Orders of the Day makes the assembly conform to the agenda or order of business and is stated, “I call for the orders of the day.” The presiding officer then goes immediately to what is supposed to be on the agenda at this time unless she/he senses that the assembly wants to complete the present business. Then, he/she takes a vote to set aside the orders of the day. It takes a 2/3 vote to set aside the orders of the day.
Raise a Question of Privilege permits a member to make a request related to the rights and privileges of the assembly or an individual. For example, a member may raise a question of privilege if the member cannot hear the speaker by saying, “I rise to a question of personal privilege; I cannot hear the speaker.”
Recess allows the assembly to take a short intermission and, upon returning, resume the business at hand. While it’s not debatable, the motion to recess is amendable related to the length of time of the recess. “I move to take a (set the amount of time) recess.” The motion requires as second and a majority adopts.
Adjourn is a motion that ends the meeting immediately while business is still pending. “I move to adjourn.” is the statement. It requires a second, a majority vote to approve, and, like all privileged motions, is not debatable.
Fix the Time to Which to Adjourn is seldom encountered but it can be very useful when it becomes apparent that the assembly cannot complete business that must be accomplished at a specific meeting. The motion sets a later time to continue the current meeting before the next regular meeting. Here is how it is stated, “I fix the time to which to adjourn to 7 PM tomorrow at our present location.” If the undebatable motion is adopted the meeting will continue at 7 PM
tomorrow at the same location. This motion has nothing to do with setting the time that the present meeting will end; it relates only to continuing the meeting at a later time and place.
Presenters Vesta DeRiso and Eleanor Siewert followed these descriptors with some scripted examples of how and when the privileged motions might be used. Nearly everyone recalled a time when such privileged motions were used and many began to consider situations where using a privileged motion would have improved the meeting’s comfort or flow. This lesson surely offered all the chance to look for such opportunities in the future and to have the skill to use privileged motions.
The next Louise Saks Parliamentary Unit meeting will be April 19, 2016 at the First Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, MI located at 1669 West Maple Road. As usual the meeting will begin promptly at 9:30 with the education lesson followed by the unit’s business meeting concluding by noon.
Guests and visitors are always welcome to discover how much fun it can be to study and learn together in a congenial, accepting atmosphere.
40 Years and Counting...
This year the Louise Saks Parliamentary Unit (LSPU) celebrates its 40th anniversary as an organization offering leadership and education in parliamentary procedure. In 1975 we began serving the community, teaching how to have effective meetings where work is accomplished and all can participate following the guidance of Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised.
In its early years LSPU was the Oakland County Parliamentary Unit, but upon the death of its founder Louise Saks, a Professional Registered Parliamentarian, who brought people together to study and then practice parliamentary procedure in various organizations, the Unit was renamed to honor Ms. Saks’ legacy. Now, members come from all around southeast Michigan, meeting at the First Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.
LSPU is one of six parliamentary units in Michigan, all of them dedicated to educating members and the communities they serve in using Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised to accomplish organizations’ purposes.
March 2016 Meeting Highlights: LSPU Meeting
Annual Workshop - April 16, 2016
Save the date for the annual LSPU parliamentary workshop! This workshop comes with a guarantee; you will learn something new. Forty years and the still going strong...
Here is what happened at the October 2015 Meeting...
When an assembly gets bogged down in the details of a proposed motion or when it appears that more information is needed so people can make an informed decision, it’s a good time to Refer or Commit the motion to a committee. The October 20 lesson presented by Deb Davis and Terrien Bell showed members of the Louise Saks Unit how to do that correctly. As usual, the imaginary Garden Gnome Society served as the organization that had to make a decision on a proposed motion “to have a gnome mascot.”
The question of having a mascot was referred to a special committee after considerable discussion about the type of mascot needed or if the society needed a mascot at all.
“After all,” one member argued, “ a garden gnome image exists in our hearts and there is no need to select one particular gnome, male or female, to represent the society.”
Since there were widely-divergent views and numerous options, the entire motion was referred to a committee who will report in November with their recommendation.
To become a member of MSAP you must also belong to the National Association of Parliamentarians. However, anyone interested in parliamentary procedure is welcome to join a local unit as a provisional member. For more information, use our contact form.
We look forward to hearing from you!