What to do when the meeting must go on

The object of the motion to “Fix the Time to Which to Adjourn” is to set the time, and sometimes the place, for another meeting to continue business of the session.

Have you ever been at a meeting where one business item extended longer than expected? Where it appeared as though the meeting would last well beyond a reasonable timeframe? Then, suddenly a member moves to adjourn, and you believe if the meeting adjourns important business that will be left incomplete will be harmful to the organization.

In another situation, maybe only a few members arrived at the meeting ready to make a nomination for next year’s officers as required by the bylaws. Those present waited and waited for a quorum to show up, but it never materialized. 

Finally, perhaps your meeting did have a quorum to begin with, but slowly members drifted away and did not return, until finally someone said they didn’t think a quorum was present any more.

A specific motion has the ability to help address these issues. The object of the motion to “Fix the Time to Which to Adjourn” (also referred to as the motion to “Fix the Time for an Adjourned Meeting”) is to set the time, and sometimes the place, for another meeting to continue business of the session, with no effect on when the present meeting will adjourn. 

C. Alan Jennings, PRP, explains, “An adjourned meeting refers to a meeting that continues the same order of business, or agenda, that wasn’t concluded in an earlier meeting. It’s a separate meeting, in one sense, but it’s technically a continuation of the same meeting. The adjourned meeting mostly takes care of important business that shouldn’t (or mustn’t) wait until the next regular meeting, but that can’t go forward in the current meeting because of a lack of time (or perhaps a lack of a quorum).”

A motion to Fix the Time to Which to Adjourn is in order only if at the time it is offered there is no meeting scheduled for later within the same session. If there is such a meeting, additional meetings within the same session may be set by a motion to either to “Suspend the Rules” or to “Amend Something Previously Adopted”, namely the previously adopted agenda or program for the session (RONR 11th ed., p. 242, II. 20-31).

The next time your group finds itself in any of the above situations, remember the motion Fix the Time to Which to Adjourn to help you get through. The continued meeting will pick up right where the current one left off. The motion does not affect when you can adjourn the present meeting.

While you may not Fix the Time to Which to Adjourn very often, it’s good to be ready to move it, support it and understand when it’s appropriate.

The Michigan State University Extension Government and Public Policy team offers training for elected and appointed officials for improved effectiveness in several areas, including various public policy issues and effects of government programs, regulation, incentives, strategies and more. By working together with local elected and appointed officials, and interested citizens, MSU Extension is able to provide education on critical local and state issues. The Michigan State University Extension Government and Public Policy team also offers professional training in Parliamentary Procedure.  To contact an expert in your area, visit MSU Extension’s expert search system or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464). 

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