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What Does "Take from the Table" Mean?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 30 November 2016
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"Take from the table" refers to a type of activity that may occur in different types of business meetings, especially those that are conducted using some form of parliamentary procedure. This type of activity involves a decision to begin discussing once more an issue that was set aside at some point in the past. Choosing to take up an issue from the table does not necessarily mean that the matter will now be resolved, since it is possible for the body of individuals assembled to determine that the time is not yet right for arriving at a final resolution, and choose lay the issue back on the table for future consideration.

Parliamentary procedure is utilized in a number of settings. It is not unusual for governing bodies of many types to make use of these types of procedures as a means of maintaining order and protecting the rights of all participants during discussions of important issues. Governments often use procedures of this type when considering legislation, including local municipalities that may choose to use what is known as a town meeting format. When this is the case, motions such as choosing to lay a given issue on the table or even to take a previous issue from the table a previous issue is very common.

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The actual process used to take from the table an issue that previously had been tabled or set aside for a time will vary, depending on the type of parliamentary procedure used. It is not unusual for organizations to modify the procedures somewhat to conform more to local customs. In general it is possible to take from the table when the body is not currently discussing some other type of measure or issue. This means that it is possible for an authorized participant in the meeting to wait for a time when there is a call for references to new or unfinished business, and then make a motion to take a certain issue off the table and bring it before the body again. If the sense of the body is that now is a good time to do so, another member of the assembly will second the motion and discussion on taking up that issue may be entertained. Once the discussion is over, or if there is no discussion, the chair can call for a vote and the issue is considered taken from the table and the specifics of that matter can now be discussed on the floor of the meeting.

Since many organizations do somewhat modify or adapt parliamentary procedure, it is not unusual for those organizations to publish specifics on which motions have precedence over others. Consulting the documents prepared to help those assembled understand when it is appropriate to take from the table a matter that was tabled at a previous meeting, or even one that was tabled earlier in the current meeting, will help make the process much easier to manage. When there are no written guidelines provided, most meetings will have one individual designated as a parliamentarian, who can assist attendees in when and how to make motions, and also provide guidelines in when a motion is considered out of order or can properly be placed before and deliberated by the body.

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