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PARLIAMENTARY PROCEDURES GUIDE

THE NUMBER ONE RULE: BE PREPARED

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The leader or presiding officer should be well prepared before the meeting.

HE/SHE SHOULD:

1. Draft an agenda-a list of matters to be discussed in the order in which they will be discussed.

Note: Sending the agenda to the members prior to the meeting is not only an invitation but also a way of motivating them to come to the meeting. Avoid having the same agenda every meeting. Make your agenda attractive.

2. Know in advance what to expect from reports, and be sure that everyone who is going to deliver a report is well prepared.

3. Arrange for the meeting place, and be certain it is set up to enable you or the speaker to see all of those present so that no one is ignored in the discussion.

The presiding officer should have outlined-at least in his own mind, if not on paper-the general direction and purpose of each item of business on the agenda. Sometimes he will expect perfunctory approval (as to the minutes of the prior meeting), and sometimes he may expect a prolonged discussion (as to a budget for the year's expenses); but he should always have an idea to guide him, even though on many occasions the meeting will differ from the plan.

Being prepared, however, will permit him to guide the group rather than permit it to drift aimlessly. Thus he may help to increase the respect of those present not only for the protection of parliamentary law and democratic processes but also for their efficiency and practicability.

Members, too, should prepare. Those who are to make reports should know what they will say. The report should be concluded with a motion or statement on what new action should be taken.

Those who introduce something new should prepare a motion and should organize their thinking in advance so that they can adequately explain what they propose and why.

ORDER OF BUSINESS:

1. Opening of meeting. (Call to Order)

2. Approval (and reading if not distributed) of minutes of the previous meeting

3. Reports of board members and standing committees

4. Reports of special committees

5. Special orders*

6. Unfinished business and general orders**

7. New business

8. Closing of meeting. (Adjournment)

* Special orders: Important business, which the group has previously agreed to take up at this specific time

** General orders: Matters postponed from previous meetings and set for this meeting

CONDUCTING THE MEETING

)

At the exact hour named in the notice of the meeting, the presiding officer should

call the meeting to order. He should determine that enough members (a quorum) are present to do business, in case decisions have to be made. A quorum is usually a majority (more than half) of the committee, a convention or group, unless the group provides otherwise in its rules.

For a very large group, a smaller number should be set by the by-laws or constitution, as it may be difficult to secure a necessary majority at the meeting. In no case should the meeting proceed without the quorum. This requirement is designed to insure the group that its decisions will not be made by an unrepresentative minority.

The next business should be the approval, as read or as amended by the group, of the minutes of the previous meeting. This enables those present to know what has already been done so time is not wasted in repetition.

If this is the first meeting, the presiding officer should explain the reason for the meeting and then have the group adopt a set of parliamentary rules for orderly procedure, name its temporary officers, and proceed with the business.

SPEAKING

Speaking is accomplished by obtaining the floor. One should rise and address the presiding officer. The one who should be recognized is the person who rises first after the previous speaker has yielded the floor. It is discourteous to raise your hand or stand while another has the floor, and such a person does not, therefore, get the right to the floor next.

If more than one person properly requests the floor when debate is on, certain rules apply: (1) The maker of the motion is first even though the last to rise---in order that he can explain his motion. (2) No one gets a second chance until everyone has had one chance to speak, and (3) the chairman should try to alternate speakers among all sides of an issue.

Speaking:

....Is not usually in order until the presiding officer indicates who is entitled to speak. Once recognized, the speaker should first give his name, and, if in a representative group, he should state whom he represents.

....Follows the making of a motion. If a report is presented, its reading precedes a motion. Following the motion, the reader of the report has the first opportunity to speak.

....Is limited-to give everyone an opportunity. The group can impose more or less restrictive rules. Robert's Rules of Order gives each person only two 10-minute opportunities to speak.

....Can be stopped altogether by a motion. But this motion requires a two-thirds majority of those voting, so that a bare majority cannot prevent discussion and a minority can be heard.

 

THE MOTION...

The motion is the means whereby the group takes action. It is a statement of what is to be done and how it is to be accomplished. It should be carefully worded to prevent misunderstandings. The wording should clearly channel discussion to the important aspects of the proposal.

The motion is made by stating, "I move that the.. (name of group). . (add what is to be done, by whom, when, how financed, etc.)."

Normally, it should be seconded. This means the seconding party believes the motion should be discussed. On occasions, the purpose of a seconder is to insure that the matter is at least of sufficient interest to be presented to the group, and thus the seconder prevents one man from wasting the group 5 time.

It is done be merely stating, without rising, "I second the motion." if, however, the type of minutes kept by the group requires the seconder's name to appear in the record, he should stand to facilitate recognition.

Parliamentary law is designed to insure that the group considers only one motion at a time. This prevents confusion and speeds action, and it is the presiding officer's duty to remind the group constantly which action is the main topic.

However, the requirements of getting a job done and preventing a small but vociferous minority from keeping a group in session or wasting time on inconsequential matters demand that certain motions receive precedence. These have specific objectives, which deserve early consideration by the group and are listed in order in the Chart on Parliamentary Motions, page 5.

When these motions are made, they immediately become the pending problem of the group and must be decided first. It is important to remember that only the motion with precedence is then before the group, even though any number of subsidiary, incidental, or privileged motions are, so to speak, on the floor.

Confusion will not result if the presiding officer keeps the group well informed and explains what has happened, what is happening, and what will happen next.

TYPES OF MOTIONS

The use of parliamentary forms over a period of time has resulted in the establishment of certain terminology which itself has specific parliamentary meanings. The terms often vary as to the group using them.

LAY ON THE TABLE: A motion to delay, to an indefinite time, consideration of a main motion by taking it figuratively from the floor, where action can be taken, and laying it on the table, where action cannot be taken. This helps to allow more time to consider the problem, yet does not set a definite time for reconsideration.

A majority of voters who tabled the motion can later figuratively take the motion from the table (Take from Table) and put it on the floor for discussion. When this is done, the 'motion comes back to the floor in the same condition as it went on the table, i.e., with the same wording.

 

 

MAIN MOTION: A motion to accomplish a part of the business of a group. Examples are to adopt a project, approve a budget or report, create a committee, approve an appointment, etc. All other motions are, in a way, procedural, while the main motion gets the work done. This is true, even though some other motions, like a motion to adjourn, are at times technically considered main motions.

SUBSIDIARY MOTIONS: A motion generally designed to facilitate action on a main motion-a motion subsidiary to the main motion. Examples include motions to debate, amend, refer to committee, lay on the table, etc.

INCIDENTAL MOTIONS: These motions are incidental to the consideration of business and accomplish certain parliamentary purposes. Examples are questions of order and appeal, suspension of the rules, objection to consideration of a question, etc.

PRIVILEGED MOTIONS: A motion is privileged in the sense that with it, at certain times, goes the distinction of an immediate -- or at least an earlier -- decision in regard to the subject matter to which it relates, rather than to the subject matter of another motion which may have been on the floor.

The Chart on Parliamentary Motions (next page) lists the privileged motions in the order of their precedence. Examples are motions to fix the time to adjourn, or to take a recess

CHART ON PARLIAMENTARY MOTlONS

PRIVILEGED MOTIONS

Requires Second

May be Amended

May be Debated

Requires Vote

May be

reconsidered

May Interrupt Speaker

1. Fix time of next meeting

Y

Y

N

Majority

N

N

2. Adjourn meeting

Y

N

N

Majority

N

N

3. Recess

Y

Y

N

Majority

N

N

4. Question of privilege

N

N

N

Chairman

Y

Y

5. Point of information

N

N

N

------

N

Y

SUBSIDIARY MOTIONS

6. Lay on table

Y

N

N

Majority

N

N

7. Previous question

Y

N

N

2/3

Y

N

8. Limit debate

Y

Y

N

2/3

Y

N

9. Postpone to a certain time

Y

Y

Y

Majority

Y

N

10. Refer to committee

Y

Y

Y

Majority

Y

N

11. Amend

Y

Y

(1)

Majority

Y

N

12. Postpone indefinitely

Y

N

Y

Majority

Y

N

MAIN MOTIONS

13. Main motion for general business

Y

Y

Y

Majority

Y

N

14. Take from table

Y

N

N

Majority

N

N

15. Reconsider

Y

N

(2)

Majority

N

Y

16. Rescind

Y

Y

Y

Majority

Y

N

17. Make special order of business

N

N

N

2/3

------

Y

INCIDENTAL MAIN MOTIONS

18. Suspend rules

Y

N

N

2/3

N

N

19. Withdraw a motion

N

N

N

Majority

Y

N

20. Object to a consideration

N

N

N

2/3

Y

Y

21. Point of order

N

N

N

Chairman

N

Y

22. Appeal from chairman's decision

Y

N

Y

Chairman or Majority

Y

Y

23. Division (Verify a voice vote.)

N

N

N

Y

24. Roll Call

Y

N

N

Majority

------

Y

(1) Only if the motion to be amended is debatable. (2) Only if the motion to be reconsidered is debatable.