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For Fair and Orderly Meetings and Conventions
Robert’s Rules of Order provides common rules and procedures for deliberation and debate in order to place the whole membership on the same footing and to have them 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. Robert’s 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. You must be recognized by the chair before speaking.
  • The debate cannot 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 (the question) is stated by the chair, members may suggest modification of the motion; the mover can modify as he pleases or even withdraw the motion without the consent of the seconder; if the mover modifies, the seconder can withdraw the second.
  • The “immediately pending question” is the last question stated by the chair. The sequence is: 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 they are presented to the assembly and the question is stated, debate begins and changes occur.
The Rules
  • Point of Privilege: Pertains to noise, personal comfort, etc.—you may interrupt only if necessary.
  • Parliamentary Inquiry: Inquire as to the correct motion—to accomplish a desired result or to 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 (they must be able to stand on their own).
  • Consider by Paragraph: Adoption of a paper is held until all paragraphs are debated and amended and the 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 cannot 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 a question is stated; the 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 the size of the committee desired and the method of selecting the members (either by election or appointment).
  • Extend Debate: Applies only to the immediately pending question; extends until a certain time or for a certain period of time.
  • Limit Debate: Closing the debate at a certain time or limiting the debate 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: An objection must be stated before discussion or another motion is stated.
  • Lay on the Table: Temporarily suspends further consideration/action on a pending question; this motion may be made after the motion to close the debate has carried or is pending.
  • Take from the Table: Resumes consideration of an item previously “laid on the table”—state the motion to take it from the table.
  • Reconsider: Can be made only by one on the prevailing side who has changed his/her 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 the debate if successful—may be moved to “Close Debate” if preferred.
  • Informal Consideration: Move that the assembly go into “Committee of the Whole”—an informal debate as if in a committee; this committee may limit the number or length of speeches or may close the debate by other means by a two-thirds 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 it relates to decorum, violation of rules, or order of business.
  • Suspend the Rules: Allows a violation of the assembly’s own rules (except the Constitution); the object of the suspension must be specified.