An Outline of Basic Parliamentary Procedure in America

Topics: Parliamentary procedure, Motion, Subsidiary motion Pages: 13 (2834 words) Published: November 26, 2013

Prepared by Douglas N. Case
Parliamentary Authority:
Robert's Rules of Order, Newly Revised,
Tenth Edition, 2001.
I. Rules Governing an Organization
A. State and Federal Law - governing cor
porations, tax-exempt organizations, public
legislative bodies, etc.
B. Articles of Incorporation - applicable to corporations
C. Governing Documents of Parent Organizations
- applicable to chapters, affiliates, etc. of
larger organizations
D. Local Constitution and Bylaws - defines the
organization's basic structure and fundamental
rules. Normally requires a 2/3 vote and prior notice for amendment and are not subject to suspension.
E. Standing Rules - operating procedures consiste
nt with all of the above. Normally can be
amended by majority vote at any business meeting and can be suspended. F. Rules of Order - parliamentary authority, s
uperseded by any of the above which conflict.
G. Precedent and Custom - apply when there are no written rules governing a situation. II. Purposes of Parliamentary Procedure
A. Ensure majority rule
B. Protect the rights of the minority, the absentees and individual members C. Provide order, fairness and decorum
Facilitate the transaction of bus
iness and expedite meetings
III. Basic Principles of Parliamentary Procedure
A. All members have equal rights, privileges and obligations. B. A quorum must be
for the group to act – if the bylaws of the organization do not establish a quorum, the general rule is that a
majority of the entire membership must be
present in order to transact business.
Full and free discussion of every motion is a basic right.
Only one question at a time may be consider
ed, and only one person may have the floor
at any one time.
Members have a right to know what the imme
diately pending question is and to have it
restated before a vote is taken.
No person can speak until recognized by the chair.
Personal remarks are always out of order.
A majority decides a question except when
basic rights of members are involved.
A two-thirds vote is required for any motion that deprives a member of rights in any way (e.g., cutting off debate).
Silence gives consent. Those who do not vote
allow the decision to be made by those
who do vote.
The chair should always remain impartial.
IV. Typical Order of Business
A. Call to Order
B. Opening Exercises, if applicable
C. Roll Call/Determination of a Quorum
D. Adoption of the Agenda
E. Reading and Approval of the Minutes of the Previous Meeting F. Reports of Officers
G. Reports of Standing Committees
H. Reports of Special (Ad hoc) Committees
I. Special Orders
J. Unfinished Business and General Orders
K. New Business
L. Program, if applicable
M. Announcements
N. "Good of the Order"
O. Adjournment
V. Role of the Presiding Officer
A. Remain impartial during debate - the presidi
ng officer must relinquish the chair in order to
debate the merits of a motion
B. Vote only to create or break a tie (or 2/3 for matters requiring a 2/3 vote) – exception: the presiding officer may vote on any vote by ballot
C. Determine that a quorum is present before transacting business D. Introduce business in proper order
E. Recognize speakers
F. Determine if a motion is in order
G. Keep discussion germane to the pending motion
H. Maintain order
I. Put motions to a vote and announce results
J. Employ unanimous consent when appropriate
VI. General Procedure for Handling a Motion
A. A member normally must obtain the floor by being recognized by the chair. B.
Member makes a motion.
A motion must normally be seconded by anothe
r member before it can be considered.
Before the motion is restated by the chair, any member can rise, without waiting to be recognized, and suggest a modification of the wording to clarify the...
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