A City of New Holstein ordinance appears to provide at least some clarification for a recent action taken by the Common Council which generated subsequent discussion about Robert’s Rules of Order.

At a special council meeting earlier this month, Alderman Bob Bosma made a motion to have the city enter into discussions with Calumet County to provide some short-term law enforcement coverage of the city to help out the city’s depleted Police Department, and to enter into discussions about a possible long-term agreement.

Before Bosma’s motion was seconded, Alderman Rich Snelson—attending the meeting via phone—offered an amendment to remove the long-term discussions from the motion. Snelson’s amendment did not receive any discussion from the council. The council later voted 6-2 in favor of the original motion.

After the meeting, Snelson contended that his amendment was valid. He said he consulted with people well versed in parliamentary procedure who indicated that a motion does not need to have a second before an amendment can be made, and some interpretations of Robert’s Rules of Order do agree that motions are unnecessary.

Item “i” in Chapter 1 of City of New Holstein ordinances, however, does clearly address the topic of motions and states, “No motion shall be discussed or acted upon until it has been seconded; nor shall any motion be withdrawn or amended without the consent of the person making the same and the person seconding it.” Bosma’s motion had not been seconded prior to Snelson’s amendment, nor did Bosma consent to the amendment.

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