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Robert's Rules of Order Video blog

ROBERT'S RULES REVEALED: EP #01 – How to Handle Friendly Amendments

Monday, July 02, 2012 - Susan Leahy


Today, we're going to be talking to Ann McFarlane from Jurassic Parliament, and her and I are going to be shedding light on some very interesting customer questions.

Today we are going to be talking about a subject that I hear my clients call in and ask about a lot, and that’s; How do we handle "friendly amendments?" Ann, what do you think or feel when somebody asks about this topic, friendly amendments?

ANN: Oh Susan, friendly amendments come up all the time and people really mishandle them. I don’t know how this widespread misunderstanding came about, but people think that if someone offers a friendly amendment the correct way to handle it is to turn to the maker of the motion and the seconder and ask them if they will accept it, but that’s entirely wrong.

SUSAN: It’s totally wrong, and don’t you find when people do that in the middle of the meeting it messes up the flow of the meeting?

ANN: Absolutely it confuses it quite a bit.

SUSAN: It confuses everybody and now all of a sudden it gives that maker of the motion who you are going back to this unfair and strange power. When your clients handle friendly amendments how do you advise them?

ANN:
My suggestion is that first off if it seems as if the amendment is noncontroversial the chair can use unanimous consent and ask, is there any objection to accepting this amendment? So if no one says anything than that silence means consent and the amendment can be accepted immediately.

SUSAN: And unanimous consent is supposed to be for everybody, so it is extremely important.

ANN: But if someone objects, or if it seems necessary the chair can treat it like any other amendment and say is there a second to the proposed amendment? And if someone seconds it, it becomes a motion. And there you are treating it in the normal way.

SUSAN: And that’s where I think you and I are so in line with the respects of how we deal with our clients because its that sense of, I like that you think you treat a friendly amendment just how you treat an amendment, and I’ve always taken the route of, you know don’t even introduce friendly amendments, don’t even use the word, because friendly amendments don’t really exist and they really aren’t that friendly, at the end of the day all you’re really doing is introducing a simple amendment.

ANN: That’s right, you’re proposing a change to the motion. And the group will decide whether to accept it or not.

SUSAN: You know and amendments are one of the most utilized motions but it’s a misunderstood motion so you just got to learn how to make a basic amendment then as a group more effective. Ann I appreciate your input and energy, and I think that that is a great tip on how to handle a friendly amendment.

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