Meeting Rules

Parliamentary Rules

Too much parliamentarism can make meetings, especially small meetings, harder rather than easier to handle, and can hinder rather than facilitate the airing of everyone’s views. However, even small meetings can benefit greatly from the observance of a few basic procedures.

1. Do not speak until recognized by the chair. To get the chair to recognize you when you wish to propose a motion or amendment, or participate in a debate on a motion or amendment, raise your hand. To be recognized for certain other purposes (see 7 & 9), stand up instead of raising your hand, so that the chair will know to give you priority.

2. To propose an action, say “I move …” . Someone must then say “I second …”before the chair will call for debate and a majority vote on your motion.

3. When you agree substantially with a motion, but you wish to propose a largely consistent addition or qualification, say “I move to amend …” No more than two amendments should be made to any one motion. Debate and a majority vote on the amendment come before continued debate and a vote on the motion.

4. You can “move to amend the amendment,” but an amendment to an amendment must be relevant to the amendment and the principle motion–and largely consistent with them both.

5. If a motion has become confusing because of amendments or otherwise, and you wish to offer a clearer motion with essentially the same content, say “I move as a substitute motion.” Without debate, the chair accepts or rejects the substitution.

6. To end debate on a motion or amendment, someone must “call for the previous question,” and someone else must second. Without debate, this goes to an immediate vote. Two thirds must vote to end debate, or debate continues.

7. To get clarification only, stand and say “I rise for information”. You should be recognized immediately. Then make your request for an answer or explanation.

8. If proper procedure is not being followed, and the effectiveness or fairness of the meeting is being reduced, stand and say “I rise for a point of order.” You may even interrupt another speaker to do so. The chair should recognize you and allow you to state your objection, then rule on the point of order without debate.

9. To challenge rulings (sparingly), stand and “appeal from the decision of the chair.” If someone seconds, the chair should let you say why you think the ruling was wrong, then the chair may say why she believes the ruling was correct. Without other debate, it goes to a majority vote. A tie vote upholds the chair’s ruling.