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(A) Most motions, except for procedural motions, such as calling the previous question, adjournment, and the like, are debatable. Debate may continue as long as Council members wish to discuss an item, subject to any motion for previous question, which ends debate. Absent a successful motion for previous question, debate will end if the presiding officer solicits further comments and none are forthcoming.
(B) Some motions are not debatable. The presiding officer should immediately call for a vote of the Council, without debate on the following:
(1) Motion to adjourn. This motion, if passed, requires the Council to immediately adjourn to its next regularly scheduled meeting. This motion requires a simple majority vote.
(2) Motion to end debate or the “previous question.” The most common form of this motion is to say: “I move the previous question,” or “I move the question,” or “I call for the question.” When a Council member makes such a motion, the Council member is really saying, “I’ve had enough debate. Let’s get on with the vote.” The motion requires a second. If the motion carries by two-thirds majority of those Council members present, all further debate is concluded, and the question put in this order: first upon the amendments pending and then upon the main proposition before the Council.
(3) Motion to limit debate. An alternative to the previous question is a motion to limit debate, which includes, by its stated terms, a time limit. For example: “I move we limit debate on this agenda item to 15 minutes.” The motion to limit debate requires a two-thirds vote of the Council.
(4) Motion objecting to consideration. A similar motion is a motion objecting to consideration of an item. This motion is not debatable and, if passed, precludes the Council from even considering an item on the agenda. It also requires a two-thirds vote.
(5) Motion to lay on the table. A motion to lay a question upon the table is not debatable.
(6) Motion to postpone to a date certain. A motion to postpone to a date certain is not debatable (except for discussion of the specific date).
(7) Motion to refer to committee. This motion directs that the item under consideration be sent to a committee for further analysis and recommendations.
(8) Motion to fix the time to adjourn. This motion, if passed, requires the Council to adjourn the meeting at the specific time set in the motion. For example, the motion might be: “I move we adjourn this meeting at midnight.” It requires a simple majority vote.
(9) Motion to recess. This motion, if passed, requires the Council to immediately take a recess. Normally, the presiding officer determines the length of the recess, which may range from a few minutes to an hour. It requires a simple majority vote.
(Res. 2017-287, passed 10-9-2017)