Marshfield, Massachusetts, Town Meeting Rules and Definitions
1.The conduct of Marshfield’s Town Meeting is dictated by Federal and State law, the Town’s Charter and By-Laws, local tradition, and the publication entitled, “Town Meeting Time.”
2. The Moderator shall preside over the Town Meeting, decide all questions of order and procedure, and announce the results of all votes. The results of all votes as announced by the Moderator shall be final except on a voice vote which may be questioned by seven (7) voters standing immediately after the announced results of a vote. In such a case, a standing vote shall be taken without debate.
3.Non-voters will be seated in a special section unless permission is granted by the Town Meeting to be seated elsewhere. Non-voters may be allowed to address the Town Meeting with permission of the Moderator unless a majority of voters choose to deny such a privilege.
4.Articles in the Warrant give notice of the issues subject to discussion at a Town Meeting and establish the parameters of matters that can be debated and acted on. Amendments, motions and/or debate determined by the Moderator, with the advice of Town Counsel, to be “beyond the scope” of the Articles may not be permitted.
5. In order for the Town Meeting to act on or discuss an Article, a motion must be made. The Moderator will call for a motion each Article and, if no motion is made after the second call, the Moderator will “pass over” the Article and move on to the next Article. In order to bring back a”pass over” Article for a motion and discussion, there must be an approved “motion for reconsideration.”
6. Articles may be postponed by a majority vote or advanced by approval of the Moderator and a 2/3 vote.
7.To address the Town Meeting, a speaker must be recognized by the Moderator and, once recognized, a speaker should first give [his] or her name and address for the record. No speaker will be recognized while another person is speaking except to raise point of order” which is used to question a ruling of the Moderator or the conduct of the Town Meeting. ”Points of Order” are not to address the subject matter being- discussed.
8. All matters shall be decided by a majority vote unless a 2/3 or greater vote is required. If more than a majority vote is required, the Moderator shall announce the required percentage for passage before calling for the vote.
9.The Moderator may set time limits on all presentations and may terminate debate on a motion when he deems it appropriate. Debate on a motion may also be terminated by a voter “moving the question” which, if accepted by the Moderator as not being premature shall be voted on without discussion or debate. A motion to “move the question” requires a 2/3 vote for passage.
1O. Only two (2) amendments to a motion may be on the floor at any particular time. Amendments over ten (1O) words must be submitted to the Moderator in writing and, if over fifty (50) words, sufficient copies must be available to those attending at the entrance of the hall before the start of that particular session.
11. Generally, amendments shall be voted on in the order made and prior to the vote on the motion to be amended. However, amendments relating to amounts to be appropriated shall be voted on in a descending order until an amount gains approval.
l2.A motion may be reconsidered once for any reason by a majority vote. No further reconsideration will be permitted unless the Moderator determines that there has been a significant procedural error or that there is new information likely to affect the vote. There will be no reconsideration of a vote either on a subsequent evening or after 10:30 p.m. on the evening of the vote in question.
l3. A resolution is a non-debatable, non-binding motion on any matter calling for a consensus of the Town Meeting. If a resolution is over ten (10)words, it must be submitted to the Moderator in writing and, if over fifty (50) words, sufficient copies must be available at the entrance of the hall to those attending.
14. No new business will be taken up after 10:45 p.m. on any evening.
l5.When justice or order requires, the Moderator may make exceptions to these rules as he, in his discretion, deems it appropriate under the circumstances.
Source: Town of Marshfield Special Annual Town Meeting. April 22. 1996 (Marshfield, Mass., 1996), pp1-2.