Unfinished Business, Yes; Old Business, Never!
“Old Business” means that you are reconsidering issues already disposed of. “Unfinished Business” means that you are continuing with issues which are currently not completed (RONR (10th ed.), p.346). Before the current agenda is put together, the secretary advises the chair of the issues which were not disposed of from the previous meeting and which can be carried forward as “Unfinished Business”.
There are really only a few reasons why an issue may be considered in the “Unfinished Business and General Orders” portion of the current meeting’s agenda.
Questions left pending at the previous meeting:
A question was being discussed and being dealt with when the previous meeting adjourned.
A question was listed on the previous meeting’s agenda as part of the unfinished business, but was not reached when the meeting adjourned.
A question had been postponed (made prior General Order) to the previous meeting, but was not reached when the meeting adjourned.
Questions NOT left pending at the previous HOA meeting:
A question was postponed (made current General Order) to the current meeting.
Though not technically “Unfinished Business”, any tabled matter may be taken from the table at this time as well.
Notice: Let us suppose that a group meets monthly.
In March, an issue is listed as “Unfinished Business” for the first time.
In March, the group adjourns without dealing with the issue.
In April, the issue can be taken up again as “Unfinished Business”.
If in April the issue is not dealt with, the issue dies!
Of course, the issue may be introduced again in May, but only as “New Business”.
So, if you understand what can be considered under “Unfinished Business”, you can protect your favorite issue from being ignored. On the other hand, you could manipulate the time of adjournment to defeat the opponent’s favorite issue.
Frequently Asked Questions
a record of what was done at a meeting, not a record of what was said. [RONR (10th ed.), p. 451, l. 25-28; see also p. 146 of RONR In Brief.]
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