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    Parliamentary Procedure | Quick Reference Parliamentary Procedure Information

    Parliamentary Procedure

    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
    In Parliamentary Procedure it is customary for every group to adopt a standard order of business for meetings. The following template may be used to create your agenda:

    I. Call to order
    II. Reading and approval of minutes
    III. Reports from officers and standing committees
    IV. Reports from special committees
    V. Unfinished business
    VI. New business
    VII. Program
    VIII. Adjournment

    In parliamentary procedure 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:    
      1. The person who proposed the motion
      2. A member who has not spoken yet to the motion
      3. A member who seldom speaks to one who frequently addresses the assembly
      4. 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.

    1. Methods of amending: 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."

    • Hostile is meant opposed to the spirit and aim of the motion to which it is applied.
    • 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).

    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.

    University of Oregon 11/29/11


    By Definition

    Parliamentary procedure is the body of rules, ethics, and customs governing meetings and other operations of clubs, organizations, legislative bodies and other deliberative assemblies.  

    In the United States, parliamentary procedure is also referred to as parliamentary law, parliamentary practice, legislative procedure, or rules of order.  In the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and other English-speaking countries it is often called chairmanship, chairing, the law of meetings, procedure at meetings, or the conduct of meetings.

    At its heart is the rule of the majority with respect for the minority. Its object is to allow deliberation upon questions of interest to the organization and to arrive at the sense or the will of the assembly upon these questions.  Self-governing organizations follow parliamentary procedure to debate and reach group decisions—usually by vote—with the least possible friction.

    Rules of order consist of rules written by the body itself (often referred to as bylaws), but also usually supplemented by a published parliamentary authority adopted by the body. Typically, national, state, and other full-scale legislative assemblies have extensive internally written rules of order, whereas non-legislative bodies write and adopt a limited set of specific rules as the need arises.

    Wikipedia 9/4/11


    Committee Meeting Procedure Example

    Roll Call

    The Secretary/Historian will call roll at the beginning of each meeting.  A quorum (2/3 of the Committee) must be present for any vote beyond meeting procedural matters to be taken during a meeting.

    Community Concerns

    Anyone present may speak on any topic. Speakers may be added to the list at any time. Comments must be limited to five minutes. The Community Concerns section will be limited to thirty minutes, unless extended by the Committee by a majority vote of the members present. At his discretion, the Chair may open a speaker’s list to facilitate orderly discussion. At the end of thirty minutes, the Chair, allowing listed speakers to finish their remarks, will close the speaker’s list.


    1. Should a member of the community wish to address a complex topic or issue the Committee respectfully requests the speaker provide the Chair with their written remarks 48 hours in advance of the meeting.  These remarks will be distributed to the Committee to consider before the meeting in the interests of time and better informing Committee members.

    1. The Committee shall provide a sheet of paper on which individuals wishing to speak on Community Concerns may record their names, e-mail addresses, and such other contact information as they please. This information shall be disseminated to all the members of the Committee within 24 hours of the meeting.

    1. After all persons (other than members of the Committee) who wish to speak on a particular issue during Community Concerns have done so, the Chair shall invite discussion of that issue by members of the Committee. During this period, Committee members may ask questions of any speaker. Discussion of each issue will be limited to 10 minutes, unless extended by the Committee by a majority vote of members present. Discussion under this rule shall not be counted towards the time allotted for Community Concerns.

    Officer Reports

    Each of the five Executive officers will brief the Committee on his or her activity since the previous meeting.  Committee members may ask questions of each officer. Remarks from each Executive officer will be limited to five minutes, unless extended by a majority vote of the members present.

    School Representative Reports

    Representatives from two of the University schools designated by the Chair one week in advance will brief the Committee on their activity within their school since their last report.  Committee members may ask questions and offer suggestions to any presenting representatives.  Discussion about each report will be limited to 10 minutes, unless extended by the Committee by a majority vote of the members present.

    Old Business

    Debate on any proposal under Old Business will be limited to fifteen minutes, unless extended by the Committee by a 2/3 vote of the committee present.  At the end of the fifteen minute period, the Chair, allowing speakers to finish their remarks, will close the speaker’s list. Proposal sponsors will be granted the right of reply, also limited to one minute.  A motion to table a proposal shall require a majority vote of those present.

    New Business

    Proposals should be introduced by their Committee sponsors. Proposals will be introduced for preliminary discussion at least one week before debate and voting take place, except by a 2/3 vote of the Committee present.  Debate on a proposal will be limited to 30 minutes, unless extended by the Committee by a majority vote of the members present.

    If necessary, the Chair shall decide any matter of meeting procedures not covered by the standing rules, and resolve any ambiguities in the standing rules, but the Chair may be overridden by a motion passed by a majority of the Committee.

    *University of Virginia

    For information on how to take meeting minutes and for a template, visit MinutesofMeeting.org.

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