Robert's Rules of Order
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Robert's Rules is a time-tested standard, providing common rules of parliamentary procedure for
deliberation and debate in order to place the whole membership on the same
footing and speaking the same language. The conduct of ALL business is
controlled by the general will of the whole membership - the right of the
deliberate majority to decide. Complementary is the right of at least a strong
minority to require the majority to be deliberate - to act according to its
considered judgment AFTER a full and fair "working through" of the issues
involved. Roberts Rules provides for constructive and democratic meetings, to
help, not hinder, the business of the assembly. Under no circumstances should
"undue strictness" be allowed to intimidate members or limit full participation.
The fundamental right of deliberative assemblies require all questions
to be thoroughly discussed before taking action. The assembly rules -
they have the final say on everything! Silence means consent!
- Obtain the floor (the right to speak) by being the first to stand when
the person speaking has finished; state Mr./Madam Chairman. Raising your
hand means nothing, and standing while another has the floor is out of
order! Must be recognized by the Chair before speaking!
- Debate can not begin until the Chair has stated the motion or resolution
and asked "are you ready for the question?" If no one rises, the chair calls
for the vote!
- Before the motion is stated by the Chair (the question) members may
suggest modification of the motion; the mover can modify as he pleases, or
even withdraw the motion without consent of the seconder; if mover modifies,
the seconder can withdraw the second.
- The "immediately pending question" is the last question stated by the
Chair! Motion/Resolution - Amendment - Motion to Postpone
- The member moving the "immediately pending question" is entitled to
preference to the floor!
- No member can speak twice to the same issue until everyone else wishing
to speak has spoken to it once!
- All remarks must be directed to the Chair. Remarks must be courteous in
language and deportment - avoid all personalities, never allude to others by
name or to motives!
- The agenda and all committee reports are merely recommendations! When
presented to the assembly and the question is stated, debate begins and
- Point of Privilege: Pertains to noise, personal comfort, etc. -
may interrupt only if necessary!
- Parliamentary Inquiry: Inquire as to the correct motion - to
accomplish a desired result, or raise a point of order
- Point of Information: Generally applies to information desired
from the speaker: "I should like to ask the (speaker) a question."
- Orders of the Day (Agenda): A call to adhere to the agenda (a
deviation from the agenda requires Suspending the Rules)
- Point of Order: Infraction of the rules, or improper decorum in
speaking. Must be raised immediately after the error is made
- Main Motion: Brings new business (the next item on the agenda)
before the assembly
- Divide the Question: Divides a motion into two or more separate
motions (must be able to stand on their own)
- Consider by Paragraph: Adoption of paper is held until all
paragraphs are debated and amended and entire paper is satisfactory; after
all paragraphs are considered, the entire paper is then open to amendment,
and paragraphs may be further amended. Any Preamble can not be considered
until debate on the body of the paper has ceased.
- Amend: Inserting or striking out words or paragraphs, or
substituting whole paragraphs or resolutions
- Withdraw/Modify Motion: Applies only after question is stated;
mover can accept an amendment without obtaining the floor
- Commit /Refer/Recommit to Committee: State the committee to
receive the question or resolution; if no committee exists include size of
committee desired and method of selecting the members (election or
- Extend Debate: Applies only to the immediately pending question;
extends until a certain time or for a certain period of time
- Limit Debate: Closing debate at a certain time, or limiting to a
certain period of time
- Postpone to a Certain Time: State the time the motion or agenda
item will be resumed
- Object to Consideration: Objection must be stated before
discussion or another motion is stated
- Lay on the Table: Temporarily suspends further
consideration/action on pending question; may be made after motion to close
debate has carried or is pending
- Take from the Table: Resumes consideration of item previously
"laid on the table" - state the motion to take from the table
- Reconsider: Can be made only by one on the prevailing side who
has changed position or view
- Postpone Indefinitely: Kills the question/resolution for this
session - exception: the motion to reconsider can be made this session
- Previous Question: Closes debate if successful - may be moved to
"Close Debate" if preferred
- Informal Consideration: Move that the assembly go into
"Committee of the Whole" - informal debate as if in committee; this
committee may limit number or length of speeches or close debate by other
means by a 2/3 vote. All votes, however, are formal.
- Appeal Decision of the Chair: Appeal for the assembly to decide -
must be made before other business is resumed; NOT debatable if relates to
decorum, violation of rules or order of business
- Suspend the Rules: Allows a violation of the assembly's own rules
(except Constitution); the object of the suspension must be specified
© 1997 Beverly Kennedy
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