[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Meeting of the Town of Cohasset as Art. II of the 1988 General Bylaws. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The Board of Selectmen shall set the date for the Annual Town Meeting on or before December 31 of the preceding year. The Annual Town Meeting shall be held commencing at a time of that day established by the Board of Selectmen at the time of issuance of the warrant in the month March, April or May of any year. The meeting for the election of those officers who by law must be elected by ballot, and for determining such matters as by law must be decided by ballot, shall take place within the 35 days after the opening of the Annual Town Meeting; the time that the polls shall be open for each election shall be determined by the Board of Selectmen in accordance with MGL c. 54, § 64.
[Amended 4-6-1991; 5-4-1995; 8-26-2002; 1-9-2007; 6-6-2011; 7-2-2012]
The Selectmen shall give notice of every Annual Town Meeting by causing a constable to post attested copies of the warrant for such Meeting at the post office in the Town, and in not less than five other public places in the Town, not less than seven days before the day appointed for the Meeting.
The Selectmen shall insert any article in the warrant for an Annual Town Meeting upon written request by 10 or more registered voters of the Town or upon written request by the Town Manager regarding the organization of the Town into operating agencies. The names and addresses of the first 10 registered voters requesting insertion of an article shall be printed in the warrant immediately following such article. Such requests for insertion of an article in the warrant must be received by the Selectmen 75 days before the specified time for the Annual Town Meeting.
The Selectmen may call a Special Town Meeting to consider any matter which in their opinion requires action prior to the next Annual Town Meeting. The Selectmen shall call a Special Town Meeting upon written request of 200 registered voters of the Town, the Meeting to be held not later than 45 days after the receipt of such a request.
The Selectmen shall give notice of every Special Town Meeting by causing a constable to post attested copies of the warrant for the Meeting at the post office in the Town, and in not less than five other public places in the Town, not less than 14 days before the day appointed for the Meeting. In addition thereto, a copy of the warrant printed in some convenient form shall be sent by mail or delivered to each registered voter of the Town, at least 14 days before the day appointed for the Meeting.
The Selectmen shall insert any article in the warrant for a Special Town Meeting upon written request by 100 registered voters of the Town or upon written request by the Town Manager regarding the organization of the Town into operating agencies. The names and addresses of the first 10 registered voters requesting insertion of an article shall be printed in the warrant immediately following such article. The request for insertion of an article in the warrant must be received by the Selectmen within seven days after the call for the Special Town Meeting. No action shall be valid unless the subject matter thereof is contained in the warrant.
Copies of all articles in the warrant for Annual or Special Town Meetings shall immediately be forwarded by the Selectmen to the Advisory Committee for its consideration. The Advisory Committee shall have the right to request the Selectmen insert articles in the warrant until 20 days before the Annual Town Meeting.
At least 10 days prior to the printing of the warrant for any Special or Annual Town Meeting the Board of Selectmen shall provide the Bylaw Committee for its review any proposed article which involves a change in or an addition to the bylaws of the Town of Cohasset.
One hundred registered voters shall constitute a quorum at a Town Meeting, except that a motion to adjourn shall not require a quorum. No vote shall be held to be invalid for lack of the required quorum unless it appears from the records of the Town Clerk of the Meeting that before the results of such vote were declared the presence of a quorum was duly questioned and found to be lacking.
The Moderator, while occupying the chair, shall not participate in any discussion before the Meeting.
Town Meetings are open, and participation is limited to registered voters of the Town; provided, however, that nonregistered voters and nonresidents may address the Meeting under the following circumstances:
A professional person employed by the Town regarding any matter under discussion at a Meeting may address the Meeting without its consent.
Every person speaking upon a subject in any Meeting shall confine his remarks to the question before the Meeting, avoid personalities, and be seated when he has finished. Any person who is employed by another person regarding any matter under discussion at a Meeting shall disclose the fact of his employment before speaking thereon.
Every person desiring to speak shall rise, address the chair, and, on obtaining recognition, shall state his name and stand while speaking unless the Moderator otherwise directs.
No person shall speak on any subject a second time for more than five minutes unless the Meeting permits him to do so.
No person shall speak more than twice upon any questions, except to correct an error or make an explanation, without first obtaining the permission of the Meeting, and not until others who have not spoken upon the question shall speak if they so desire.
When a question is to be voted on for which only a majority vote is required, the decision of the meeting shall be determined by the voices of the voters, and the Moderator shall promptly announce the vote as it appears to him by sound. If the Moderator is unable to determine the vote by the sound of the voices, or if his announcement is thereupon doubted by seven or more voters rising in their places for that purpose, the Moderator shall without debate determine the vote in either of the following ways:
If, after debate, the Meeting so orders, or if, upon recommendation of the Advisory Committee, the Moderator so orders (subject to appeal as provided in Subsection L in this section), the vote on any motion shall be taken in one of three ways:
When the Moderator rules that a motion is readily divisible, and either the Moderator deems it advisable or seven voters present so request, the motion shall be divided and the vote upon each part be taken separately.
When a question is under debate, these motions shall be received: (1) to adjourn to a fixed time; (2) to lay on the table; (3) to stop debate ("previous question"); (4) to postpone to a certain time; (5) to commit; or (6) to amend, and these motions shall have precedence in the order stated. The first three shall be decided without debate, and the latter three may be debated. Motions to lay on the table or to stop debate require at least a two-thirds vote. When proposed amendments involve amounts, if to purchase, the largest amount, or, if to sell, the smallest amount, shall be put to a vote first.
A motion to reconsider any vote may be made at an adjourned session of the Meeting only if the mover of this motion has given notice at the session of the Meeting at which the vote was taken of his intention to make such motion at an adjourned session. There can be no reconsideration of a vote once it has been reconsidered or after a vote not to reconsider it. A motion to reconsider any vote must be made before the final dissolution of the Meeting during which the vote was taken. Nothing contained in the foregoing subsection, however, shall prevent or be construed as preventing the reintroduction of any matter in an article of the warrant for a subsequent Town Meeting.
Any voter may appeal from the decision of the Moderator, and when his appeal is properly seconded by seven or more voters no other business, except a motion to adjourn to a fixed time or to lay on the table, shall be in order until the question of appeal has been decided. The appeal shall be decided without debate and by a hand vote. If there is a tie vote, the Moderator's decision stands.
The duties of the Moderator and the government of the Town Meeting not specifically provided for by law or in this chapter shall be determined by the rules of practice recommended in "Town Meeting Time: A Handbook of Parliamentary Law" (Johnson, Trustman, & Wadsworth, Second Edition, 1984), so far as they are appropriate for the conditions and powers of the Town.
Whenever a two-thirds vote is required by statute, such vote may be declared as such by the Moderator without a count and be recorded as such by the Clerk upon such declaration; provided, however, that seven or more members of a Town Meeting may challenge such declaration, at which time a count shall be held; and further, pursuant to Chapter 448 of the Acts of 1996, the governing procedure for this Town Meeting and Special Town Meeting shall be that, whenever a two-thirds vote is required by statute, such vote may be declared as such by the Moderator without a count and be recorded as such by the Clerk upon such declaration; provided, however, that seven or more members of a Town Meeting may challenge such declaration, at which time a count shall be held.
Editor's Note: See MGL c. 39, § 15.