Failed motion can’t be made again – true or false?

Dear Dinosaur: In my first year on the city council, I have made several motions which have all failed. My colleagues say, “Don’t make a motion you know will fail because once it fails it cannot be made again.” Is this true?

Answer: No, this is wildly wrong. According to Robert’s Rules of Order, during the meeting itself, someone who voted “with the prevailing side”—in this case, against the motion—can move to reconsider the motion at that same meeting. Since you didn’t vote on the prevailing side, you couldn’t move to reconsider it at that meeting.

Once the meeting is over, though, anyone can bring up the motion at a future meeting. This is called “renewing the motion.” The question of how a member voted at the meeting when the motion was first considered is irrelevant. Note that if your rules of procedure or bylaws say something different, they will take precedence over Robert’s Rules of Order.

Read our articles for more information:

A common misunderstanding about defeated motions

Reconsider, Rescind, or Amend previous decision

Renewing defeated motion at future meeting

Dear Dinosaur provides simple, practical answers to questions about Robert's Rules and parliamentary procedure. Send your questions to Dear Dinosaur here. Our answers are based on Robert's Rules of Order, Newly Revised, 12th edition. As always, nothing in this post constitutes legal or business advice. For specific questions, seek a qualified authority.

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About Ann Macfarlane

Ann G. Macfarlane is a Professional Registered Parliamentarian. She offers an interactive and user-friendly way to master the key points for effective, efficient and fair meetings. Her background as a diplomat and Russian translator enables her to connect with elected officials and nonprofit board directors and give them the tools they need for success. She is the author of Mastering Council Meetings: A guidebook for elected officials and local governments.