“Procedure is more than formality. Procedure is indeed the great mainstay of substantive rights . . . . Without procedural safeguards, liberty would rest on precarious ground and substantive rights would be imperiled.” ─William O. Douglas
"When everyone does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty." - Henry M. Robert
Robert's Rules of Order - Parliamentarian
SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT PROCEDURES/RULES OF ORDER
The purpose of parliamentary procedure is to facilitate the transaction of business and to promote cooperation and harmony. The rules of parliamentary procedure are based on a regard for the rights o the majority, the minority, especially a strong minority, greater than one third, individual members, absentees, and all these together RONR (11th ed.), p. li “The courts hold that all deliberative groups . . . must follow general parliamentary law whenever they are meeting to transact business. Even a small group . . . must observe parliamentary law. However, the procedure in such groups is usually more informal than it is in a large annual meeting. When a group meets for the purpose of presenting proposals, discussing them, and arriving at democratic decisions, parliamentary procedure is not only helpful but indispensable. In all organizations the rules of procedure must be observed if the actions of the assembly are to be legal.” The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure (4th ed.), p. 4
Where the procedures/rules or order come from: In order to facilitate the process of decision- making, include all members in orderly discussion, and ensure fairness, equality and common sense, the presiding officer will follow more formal procedures than many of us are used to in other settings. The procedures are derived from a number of sources. These are listed below in order of their rank (which means the one above “trumps” the one below). State Nonprofit Corporation Law: Cannot be suspended or amended by the annual meeting Articles of Incorporation: Can only be amended as per the state law or the articles themselves. Constitution and Bylaws of the organization: Can only be amended as per the constitution and bylaws requirements which include 30-day’s notice and two-thirds (2/3rds) vote for the constitution and majority vote for the bylaws. Any adopted special rules of order: Can be amended or rescinded without notice by 2/3 votes. Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised (11th ed.). Specific rules can be suspended at the annual meeting for a specific purpose by a 2/3 vote during the annual meeting.
Using Rules and Procedures in the meeting—the role of the presiding officer: The presiding officer is the servant of the assembly. His/her job is to help the members reach the decisions it needs to make in a manner that allows all to be heard, all to be respected. This is a much different role than his/her roles as leader and administrator away from the annual meeting. While the ultimate authority for decisions remains in the assembly, the membership grants to the chair the authority to make the procedural decisions during the meeting so that the members can concentrate on the business at hand. S/he will exercise that authority to: 1. Remind the members of the purposes outlined in the bylaws of the organization that underlie all actions and decisions of the meeting. 2. Move in and out of more formal procedures as the need arises 3. Keep the members informed about what is happening and what is being voted upon. 4. Prevent the violation of the principles of parliamentary procedure 5. Protect members from unfair treatment or abuse. 6. Recognize members impartially and alternate between those for and those against a motion/resolution 7. Be impartial and not enter into debate while presiding. 8. Give each member the opportunity to speak while preserving proper conduct & decorum during debate 9. Explain complex motions 10. Prevent members from using parliamentary procedure as a distraction or a manipulation. 11. Use unanimous consent to move ahead quickly when the matter is not controversial and there is no objection. 12. Make necessary rulings on questions of parliamentary law.
Using Rules and Procedures in the Meeting—How to participate as a member: Here are the most commonly used motions and some reminders about some common procedures (modified from Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised in Brief, Da Capo Press, 2011). After Being Recognized by the Chair to Speak: If you want to make a motion: "I move that . . ." If you want to change a motion: "I move to amend the motion by striking out . . . . by inserting . . . . by adding . . . . by striking out … and inserting . . . . by substituting for the pending motion the following . . . ." To get the vote counted on a motion: "I move that the vote be counted." To close debate and vote immediately: "I move the previous question." To take a recess: "I move to recess for 10 minutes." If you want some informal discussion on a motion: "I move that we discuss [name topic] informally for 10 minutes." If a motion needs more work than that: "I move to refer the motion to the [name committee] with a recommendations to be presented at the next annual meeting." Without Needing to Be Recognized By the Chair to Speak Second a motion (seated): "Second!" To doubt a ruling made by the chair (stand): "I appeal from the decision of the chair." To ask the chair for information on a matter of the procedures bearing on the question at hand (stand): "I rise to a parliamentary inquiry." If you think the rules are being violated (stand): "Point of Order!" To request information relevant to the business at hand: "I rise to a request for information
Some Procedural Reminders: In Writing Whenever any motion or amendment is made on the floor of the annual meeting, or a resolution is amended, a written copy must be immediately given to the Secretary of the annual meeting. Any substantive motion should be written and copies given to the presiding officer and to the secretary. The maker should state wording of the motion; do NOT say, “I so move.” Amendments Only two amendments (a primary amendment amending the main motion and a secondary amendment amending the primary amendment) can be pending on a main motion at one time. Remember, the main motion must always be voted on after all amendments have been dealt with. Limit or End Debate Any motions that limit or end debate require a 2/3s vote for approval. Procedural Questions If you have questions on whether a motion is appropriate or you wish to do something and you don’t know the procedure to do it, rise to a parliamentary inquiry, and the presiding officer will inform you if the motion is in order or what your options for action are. Unanimous Consent For routine matters, particularly where there seems to be no opposition, the chair will use unanimous consent: “There being no corrections, the minutes stand approved as read.” Or “The minutes stand approved as corrected.”
Copyright © 2020 Dr. Leonard M. Young, PRP - All Rights Reserved.