PARLIAMENTARY PROCEDURES: A BASIC INTRODUCTION
(based on Robert’s Rules of Order)
Rules of order prevent chaos in a meeting while allowing for a standard to follow. These rules allow everyone to be heard in a fair manner. But members need to understand the reason for the rules and a few basic rules. These rules can be placed on the lectern for each meeting to guide the President and the Chair. Each organization needs to have Robert’s Rules of Order in the hands of the Parliamentarian
for each meeting.
In each case that follows, a member needs to stand and state his point. Then, if the Chair recognizes him, the member proceeds to elaborate. Remember that the one chairing the meeting cannot move a motion. The parliamentarian of the club can rule on an issue or question but only when asked by the Chair. Typically, all business and motions are made during the club business portion at the beginning of the meeting.
A quorum must be met for business decisions to be valid. The business meeting begins at the striking of the gavel by the presiding officer. A quorum, typically, is one more than 50% of the active members. The presiding officer needs to ask the Secretary to confirm is a quorum is present by counting members present. So if we have 24 registered, but only 20 are attending regularly and have paid dues, then 11 would be a quorum for that meeting. The number for a quorum changes as often as weekly as active members change. A member is not attending regularly if he or she has not attended for three straight meetings without a reason being told to the club.
Moving a Motion
If we want to talk about anything in the club, we need a motion. The motion needs to be simple but complete. The key words to tell the club you want to do something is to say
“ I move that….”
An example of a simple but complete motion follows. The key to a complete motion is to include, if possible, the who, what, when, where, and why of the motion. Otherwise, complications immediate result in making a club decision.
“I move that our club have a member appreciation party on September 17 during our regular club meeting from 6:30-8:00.”
This motion answers everything except the cost issue, agenda, and attendees. Will it be pot luck? Who will chair the meeting? Will there be certificates? Will we have a special speaker? Can guests and family members come? Will the meeting be open to the public? How will the agenda change?
These questions not answered in the motion should be addressed at an Executive Committee meeting before a motion is made to the club.
Immediately, a member needs to say “I second the motion.” That statement means the club can discuss the motion. The Secretary needs to be given time to write down the motion and to read it back to the club for accuracy.
Next, the maker of the motion gets to discuss it first. So the maker stands and explains. The explanation should state that the unanswered questions have been addressed already by the Executive Committee. The maker of the motion then states the answers to the questions.
Next, the Chair asks if anyone else wants to speak in favor of the motion. Following that, the Chair asks if anyone wants to speak against the motion.
Once the Chair realizes everyone has been heard, he calls for the vote. He asks, “ All in favor say,. “aye.” After the count, he asks, “All opposed say, “nay”.” Finally, ask, “All abstaining raise your hands.”
Once the count is clear, the Chair normally states, “The motion passes. Then he restates the motion. “The club has passed that our club has a member appreciation party on September 17 during our regular club meeting from 6:30-8:00.”
Finally, it is a good ideas for the Chair to state, “Mr. Secretary, please note in the minutes the passing of the motion.”
Moving an Amendment
If the motion is incomplete or you disagree with it, move to amend. The key words to start are
“I move to amend….”
Similar procedures as above are followed. However, several ways to amend exist. We may add words at the end of the main or first motion. We can delete, or we can delete and insert. Or we can insert words. An example follows.
“Mr. Chair, I move to amend the main motion by deleting 17 and inserting 24.”
This move to amend would mean that the mover of the amendment realizes that the club already has a special event on the 17th and others in the club forgot that!
Point of Information
This means that you need information. The key words are
“I rise to a point of information.”
The Chair would recognize the speaker and ask, “What is your point of information?” or “What is your question?”
An example might be, “Mr. President, will we have three speakers today or will we have time for an educational talk?”
Point of Personal Privilege
This one means you are uncomfortable, or you see others are uncomfortable. The key words here are
“I rise to a point of personal privilege.”
An example would be, “Mr .Toastmaster, please ask the Sergeant at Arms to open some windows. I am uncomfortable and it is stuffy in here.”
Point of Order
When rising to make a point of order, you are stating that a problem exists with the agenda. The Chair is not following the agenda, so you want to know why. The key words are
“I rise to a point of order.”
The Chair would ask, “What is your point of order?”
The member might respond, “We have had a long business meeting already, and we have three speakers. May we stop and proceed with table topics which is where we are supposed to be?”
Orders of the Day
This one should rarely be used. It is a demanding immediate requirement to stop what is going on and proceed to the item on the agenda that fits the current time on the clock.
The key words are
“I move the orders of the day.”
At this point, the Chair states, “The orders of the day have been called for. We shall proceed immediately to Table Topics.”
This special strong motion requires no second and no discussion is allowed. Everything stops. The member is stating his or her high frustration with the running of the meeting. So this one borders on rudeness, but it is categorical.