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Parliamentary Procedures

Five Basic Principles Of Parliamentary Procedure

1. Only one subject may claim the attention of the assembly at one time.
2. Each proposition presented for consideration is entitled to full and free debate.
3. Every member has rights equal to every other member.
4. The will of the majority must be carried out and the rights of the minority must be preserved.
5. The personality and desires of each member should be merged into the larger unit of the organization.

Developing An Agenda Or Order Of Business

It is customary for every group to adopt a standard order of business for meetings. When no rule has been adopted, the following is the order:

1. Call to order
2. Reading and approval of minutes
3. Reports from officers and standing committees
4. Reports from special committees
5. Unfinished business
6. New business
7. Program
8. Adjournment

Motions

The proper way for an individual to propose that the group take a certain action is by "making a motion." The following is the process for handling a motion.

1. A member addresses the presiding officer for recognition.
2. The member is recognized.
3. The member proposes a motion.
4. Another member must second the motion.
5. The presiding officer states the motion to the assembly.
6. The assembly can now discuss or debate the motion. Only one person at a time may speak and must first be recognized by the presiding officer. The presiding officer should try to alternate between those favoring and those opposing the motion. Preference should be given to:

A. The person who proposed the motion
B. A member who has not spoken yet to the motion
C. A member who seldom speaks to one who frequently addresses the assembly

Discussion must be confined to the question that is "before the house".

7. The presiding officer takes the vote on the motion. Voting can be done by voice, show of hands, or balloting.
8. The presiding officer announces the result of the vote.
9. The floor is now open and another motion can be proposed.

Amending A Motion
The purpose of the "motion to amend" is to modify a motion that has already been presented in such a manner that it will be more satisfactory to the members.

Methods of amending:
1. By addition or insertion—to add something to the motion which it did not contain.
2. By elimination or by striking out—to subtract or eliminate something from a motion that was originally part of it.
3. By substitution—this method is a combination of the first two methods, since in amending by substitution something is stricken and something is inserted in its place. The substitution portion may consist of a word, a phrase, a clause, or an entirely new motion.

An important principle to understand in connection with any form of the motion to amend is that an amendment "MAY BE HOSTILE, BUT IT MUST BE GERMANE."

By hostile is meant opposed to the spirit and aim of the motion to which it is applied.

By germane is meant having direct bearing upon the subject of the motion, that is, relevant or relating to it.

An amendment may be opposed to the actual intent of the original motion and in fact, nullify it, but if it relates to the same subject matter, it is germane.

Types Of Amendment
1. Amendment of the First Rank—an amendment to a motion.
2. Amendment of the Second Rank—an amendment to the amendment. (The amendment to the amendment must modify and relate directly to the amendment and NOT to the main motion, otherwise it is OUT OF ORDER).

NO AMENDMENT BEYOND THAT OF SECOND RANK IS POSSIBLE.

It is never in order to propose more than one amendment of each rank at one time. If one desires to amend two separate and unrelated parts of a motion, this must be done by two amendments of the first rank and one must be voted upon before the other is proposed. It is possible, however, to have a motion, one amendment to the motion (amendment of the first rank), and one amendment to the amendment (amendment of the second rank) before the assembly at once. Until the amendment of the second rank has been voted upon, no other amendment of the second rank is in order. Until the amendment of the first rank has been voted upon, no other amendment of the first rank can be proposed.

Order Of Voting Upon Amendments
Amendments are voted upon in inverse order; that is, the one of second rank is disposed of first.

1. Discussion is held and the vote taken upon the amendment to the amendment (amendment of second rank).
2. Discussion is called for and the vote is taken upon the amendment to the motion (amendment of first rank).
3. When the vote on this has been taken, discussion upon the original or main motion as amended is opened and when completed a vote is taken upon it.

 

Parliamentary Procedure At A Glance

 

Motion:

 

You Say This:

May you

Interrupt

Speaker?

Must you be Seconded?

Is the motion debatable?

Is the motion Amendable?

What vote is needed?

Adjourn the meeting

"I move that we adjourn"

No

Yes

No

No

Majority Required

Recess the meeting

"I move that we recess until..."

No

Yes

No

Yes

Majority Required

Complain About noise, room temp, etc

"point of privilege"

Yes

No

No

No

No Vote Required Chair Decides

Suspend consideration of something

“I move to table the motion”

No

Yes

No

No

Majority

Required

End Debate

"I move the previous question"

No

Yes

No

No

2/3 Vote Required

Postpone consideration of something

"I move we postpone this matter until..."

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Majority Required

Have something studied further

"I move we refer this matter to a committee"

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Majority Required

Amend a motion

"I move that this motion be amended by..."

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Majority Required

Introduce business (a primary motion)

"I move that..."

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Majority Required

Object to procedure or to a personal affront

"Point of Order"

Yes

No

No

No

No Vote Required. Chair decides

Request Information

"Point of Order"

Yes, if urgent

No

No

No

No Vote Required

Ask for a vote by actual count to verify a voice count

"I call for a division of the house"

No3

No

No

No

No Vote Required Unless Someone Objects4

Object to considering some undiplomatic or improper matter

"I object to consideration of this question"

Yes

No

No

No

2/3 Vote Required

Take up a matter previously tabled

"I move we take from the table..."

No

Yes

No

No

Majority Required

Reconsider something already disposed of

"I move we now (or later) reconsider our action relative to..."

Yes

Yes

Yes, if original motion is debatable

No

Majority Required

Consider something out of its scheduled order

"I move we suspend the rules and consider..."

No

Yes

No

No

2/3 Vote Required

Vote on a ruling by the chair

"I appeal the chair's decision"

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Majority Required

 

1. The first nine motions or points are listed in established order of precedence. When any one of them is pending, you may not introduce another that is listed below it, but you may introduce another that is listed above it.

The next eight motions, points and proposals have no established order of precedence. Any of them may be introduced at any time—except when the meeting is considering one of the top three matters (motion to adjourn, motion to recess, point of privilege).

2. In this case, any resulting motion is debatable.
3. However, divisions must be called for before another motion is started.
4. Then majority vote is required.

Adapted from the Student Activities and Leadership Office at the University of Michigan.