Order of Business

44. Order of Business. It is customary for every society having a permanent existence, to adopt an order of business for its meetings. When no rule has been adopted, the following is the order:

(1) Reading the Minutes of the previous meeting [and their approval].

(2) Reports of Standing Committees.

(3) Reports of Select Committees.

(4) Unfinished Business.

(5) New Business.

Boards of Managers, Trustees, etc., come under the head of standing committees. Questions that have been postponed from a previous meeting, come under the head of unfinished business; and if a subject has been made a "special order" for the day, it shall take precedence of all business except reading the minutes. If it is desired to transact business out of its order, it is necessary to suspend the rules [ 18], which can only be done by a two-thirds vote; but as each subject comes up, a majority can at once lay it on the table [ 19], and thus reach any question which they desire to first dispose of.

The order of business, in considering any report or proposition containing several paragraphs,* [No vote should be taken on the adoption of the several paragraphs,--one vote being taken finally on the adoption of the whole paper. By not adopting separately the different paragraphs, it is in order, after they have all been amended, to go back and amend any of them still further. In committee a similar paper would be treated the same way [see 30]. In 48 (b) an illustration is given of the practical application of this section.] is as follows:

The whole paper should be read entirely through by the clerk; then the Chairman should read it by paragraphs, pausing at the end of each, and asking, "Are there any amendments proposed to this paragraph?" If none are offered, he says, "No amendments being offered to this paragraph, the next will be read;" he then reads the next, and proceeds thus to the last paragraph, when he states that the whole report or resolutions have been read, and are open to amendment. He finally puts the question on agreeing to or adopting the whole paper as amended. If there is a preamble it should be read after the last paragraph.

If the paper has been reported back by a committee with amendments, the clerk reads only the amendments, and the Chairman then reads the first and puts it to the question, and so on till all the amendments are adopted or rejected, admitting amendments to the committee's amendments, but no others. When through with the committee's amendments, the Chairman pauses for any other amendments to be proposed by the assembly; and when these are voted on, he puts the question on agreeing to or adopting the paper as amended. Where the resolutions have been just read by the member presenting them, the reading by the clerk is usually dispensed with without the formality of a vote. By "suspending the rules" [ 18], or by general consent, a report can be at once adopted without following any of the above routine.