Parliamentary Procedure

Five Basic Principles

Only one subject may claim the attention of the assembly at one time.
Each proposition presented for consideration is entitled to full and free debate.
Every member has rights equal to every other member.
The will of the majority must be carried out and the rights of the minority must be preserved.
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.

A member addresses the presiding officer for recognition.
The member is recognized.
The member proposes a motion.
Another member must second the motion.
The presiding officer states the motion to the assembly.

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:

The person who proposed the motion,
A member who has not spoken yet to the motion,
A member who seldom speaks to one who frequently addresses the assembly,
Discussion must be confined to the question that is "before the house".

The presiding officer takes the vote on the motion. Voting can be done by voice, show of hands or balloting.
The presiding officer announces the result of the vote.
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:
By addition or insertion--to add something to the motion which it did not contain.
By elimination or by striking out--to subtract or eliminate something from a motion that was originally part of it.
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 Amendments

Amendment of the First Rank: an amendment to a motion.
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.
Discussion is held and the vote taken upon the amendment to the amendment (amendment of second rank).
Discussion is called for and the vote is taken upon the amendment to the motion (amendment of first rank).
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.

For information on how to take meeting minutes and for a template, visit Minutes of Meeting.