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SUMMARY OF THE RULES
DUDLEY TOWN MEETINGS
I. ORDER OF DEBATE
WARRANT ARTICLES – FAA Representative is recognized first for the FAA Report (BL 5.4; MGL 39.16)
A positive report moves the article with or without amendment – the article is thus moved and becomes the main motion.
A negative report recommends that the article not be accepted – the report of the Committee is the main motion. To overturn that, the motion must be defeated at which point a citizen may move to accept the article as written in the warrant. Amendments to the article then would be in order.
Debate should alternate between sides of a question. The chair uses discretion to try to follow this rule, but sometimes the dynamics of the debate make it difficult.
To be recognized for debate, one should stand after the previous speaker has finished. It is out of order to stand while another has the floor except to be recognized for a matter which has priority, such as a point of order.
No one is entitled to debate the same question a second time until all others have had a chance to speak (RR 3.30). The Moderator may waive this rule in cases where a back and forth exchange is necessary and informative.
II. RULES LIMITING DEBATE
MOVE THE PREVIOUS QUESTION. This must be moved after being recognized by the Moderator – must be seconded – requires 2/3rds vote. In order to save time, the Moderator may ask for unanimous consent before putting the question on the motion for the previous question (RR 16.198).
MOTION TO LIMIT DEBATE. This may limit the number of speeches, length of debate or hour of debate. One must be recognized to move to limit debate and the motion must be seconded. This motion is not debatable but is amendable. A 2/3rds vote is required.
III. RULES REGARDING VOTING
VOTES NEEDED FOR PASSAGE OF PENDING MATTERS:
Payment of past bills At a Special Town Meeting – 9/10ths vote
At an Annual Town Meeting – 4/5ths vote
Zoning/Historic By Law Amendments: 2/3rds vote
Regular By Laws: Majority vote
Borrowing – other than anticipation: 2/3rds vote
IV. DECORUM DURING DEBATE
1. NEVER REFER TO ANOTHER CITIZEN BY NAME. ALWAYS REFER TO ANOTHER SPEAKER INDIRECTLY, SUCH AS “THE PREVIOUS SPEAKER”, “THE CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD OF ###” OR SUCH OTHER GENERAL FORMS OF IDENTIFICATION.
2. Dudley Town By-Law, Article III, Section 6, provides that “all persons shall be seated with heads uncovered. No person shall remain standing, except when he addresses the Moderator.”
3. All debate is to be addressed through the Moderator, never to anyone else.
4. Dudley Town Meetings, in accordance with the By Laws, are conducted by procedures outlined in Roberts Rules of Order. This book may be obtained at most book stores or viewed online at www.robertsrules.com. When reading Roberts Rules, it is important to understand that they are only a guide and that the Moderator’s rulings are also based on guidance provided by the By-Laws, statutes, court decisions and local customs.
When all else fails – if you are in doubt as to anything during a meeting, rise for recognition by the Moderator and state “point of inquiry”. This will enable you to ask the question of the Moderator to clarify any procedure which you feel needs clarification.