While there are numerous reasons why any motion may not be in order, I will attempt to give some guidance on why your main motion would not be in order at a meeting. Main motions are the most common motions, and are how business is done at meetings.
You are likely very familiar with these motion, though you probably do not refer to these motions as “main motion.” Motions to have the organization take some action are main motions. For example, common main motions are “I move to adopt the budget,” “I move to adopt resolution 1,” “I move to adopt the proposed amendment to the Bylaws,” and so on.
However, many times it will not be in order to make these motions. Why is that? It’s because there are almost always restrictions on when these sorts of motions can be made.
First, the agenda. If you have been to meetings, then you likely have approved numerous agendas. The agenda will typically set a specific time for various items of business (approval of the minutes, officer reports, committee reports, new business, etc.). If you attempt to make a motion regarding an item of business on the agenda before the appropriate time on the agenda, then that motion will not be in order. You need to either wait until either the appropriate time per the agenda or make a motion to change the agenda.
Second, if you want to make a motion concerning something not on the agenda, then you will need to make that motion during the new business portion of the meeting. New business is the time in the meeting where any member can bring forward business that has not already been discussed at the meeting. Of course in larger assemblies, there are typically rules that must be followed when submitting new business items. For example, the new business item may need to have been submitted in advance.
Third, it’s entirely possible that main motion to introduce new items of business are not allowed by members at the meeting. While the standard order of business calls for new business, there are many meetings that do not follow the standard order of business. Special meetings are one type of meeting that will not follow the standard order of business. A special meeting is a meeting that is being held for a particular purpose, such as to conduct an election or consider an amendment to the bylaws. At these meetings, nothing other than the specific business that meeting was called for is permissible. So main motions on unrelated matters will not be in order. In addition, the special rules of order, bylaws, or the constitution of your organization may strictly limit what business (if any) can be introduced by members at any meeting. For example, members may not be allowed to introduce certain items of business directly on the floor a meeting, but instead may be required to submit business items to a committee for consideration. Then the committee would bring forward appropriate items.
In conclusion, your main motion may not be in order because it was offered at the wrong time or was not offered in compliance with your organizations governing documents or rules.
If you have questions about this or any other meeting related matter, please contact one of our North Carolina attorneys in Charlotte, Greensboro, Wilmington or the Triangle, or our South Carolina attorneys in Greenville and Columbia.