Slides of the presentation I delivered to the AU Student Government Undergraduate Senate during their orientation on October 10, 2010. Overviews parliamentary procedure and covers procedures used by this body.
The Quick“About Me” Slide Douglas BellParliamentarian Pro-Tem
A Brief History ofParliamentary Procedure• Originated from the British Parliament• 1801: Jefferson’s Manual of Parliamentary Procedure (Thomas Jefferson)• 1876: Robert’s Rules of Order (Henry M. Robert)• 1950: Sturgis Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure (Alice Sturgis)
Governing Documents of the Senate• Constitution On t www he W .ausg ebsit• Bylaws .org/ e docs• Rules of Debate and Decorum /• “Ethical and Judicial Standards”• Prior Parliamentary & Judicial Rulings• The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure
Holding a Meeting• Chair • Governs the meeting • Must remain impartial, but doesn’t lose the right to vote*• Clerk • Records minutes of actions taken for permanent record • Having minutes of all formal meetings is a legal requirement• Quorum: Majority (more than half) of all members
Doing Stuff• A motion is a proposal for the body to do a speciﬁc action• For us, main motions usually take the form of legislation• Subsidiary motions are used to affect how the body handles the consideration of a main motion• Also other procedural motions can be used to affect how the body transacts business
Steps to a Motion• Maker of the motion rises and awaits recognition by the Chair• Motion is stated• Motion is seconded• Chair restates motion, placing it before the body• Debate (and possibly subsidiary motions)• Call for the vote• Chair announces the results of the vote
During Debate• Sponsor of legislation presents for 4 minutes• Sponsor of legislation can be questioned for 4 minutes• Debate: Maximum one minute to speak in debate, plus no one may speak more than twice on the same question on the same day• All of these rules can be suspended by a 2/3 vote
During Debate• The maker of the motion is always offered the opportunity to speak ﬁrst to their motion, as courtesy• Each participant must be recognized by the Speaker before they may speak• Speeches during debate must always be addressed to the Speaker, not to a speciﬁc individual• Debate must be related to the motion on the ﬂoor (sorry, no ﬁlibustering allowed)• An “interrupting” motion means it can interrupt the ﬂow of debate; it is NEVER permissible to interrupt a speaker mid-sentence*• Be courteous and respectful at all times
Methods of Voting• Voice Vote • Division of the assembly• Roll Call Vote• Ballot Vote• General Consent
Voting FAQs• Do motions always require a second?• What constitutes a majority vote and a two-thirds vote?• When can the Speaker vote?• What does it mean to abstain from voting?
Subsidiary andProcedural Motions Or what I like to call “The Fun Part”
Motion to Amend• Purpose: Make a modiﬁcation to the speciﬁc wording of a motion or legislation• Once moved & seconded, debate focuses exclusively on the proposed amendment until it’s voted on• Amendments can be in the form of strike, insert, strike and insert, or substitute• Use amendment forms to help keep track of amendments that are proposed & adopted
“I move that we serve birthday cake at the next meeting.”• Strike: I move to strike the word “birthday.” • The motion would then read: “I move that we serve cake at the next meeting.”• Insert: I move to insert “and ice cream” after the word “cake.” • The motion would then read: “I move that we serve birthday cake and ice cream at the next meeting.”• Strike and insert: I move to strike “birthday cake” and replace it with “chocolate chip cookies.” • The motion would then read: “I move that we serve chocolate chip cookies at the next meeting.”• Substitute: I move to substitute the motion with a new motion: “I move that we host an ice cream social.”
Motion to Close Debate• Purpose: To end debate on the motion (or all pending motions) immediately and proceed straight to the vote• Two-thirds vote required• Cannot make this motion immediately after participating in debate
Other Subsidiary Motions• Motion to Refer: Refer a motion to committee for further consideration (majority)• Motion to Table Indeﬁnitely: Kill a motion without actually voting on it (majority)• Motion to Postpone (or Table to a Certain Time): Set a motion aside to be reconsidered under Unﬁnished Business at a future meeting (majority)• Motion to Limit or Extend Debate (2/3)• Division of the Question: Split a motion up into multiple motions when appropriate (no vote)
Procedural Motions• Point of Information: Ask a question to help you make an informed decision• Parliamentary inquiry: Find out how to do something the right way• Question of Privilege: Point out or make a request about your comfort, convenience, rights, privileges• Withdraw a Motion: Motions can be taken back by the maker w/ the consent of the body
Did we do something wrong?• Point of Order: Speaker makes ruling• Appeal: Parliamentarian makes ruling• Appeal to CRP: A special session of CRP decides whether or not to sustain the Parliamentarian’s ruling• Appeal to the Judicial Board: Makes the ﬁnal ruling on questions of procedure & Governing Documents
Bills• Direct the Student Government to take a certain action, establishes policy, etc.• Appears on Senate agenda as ﬁrst reading, Speaker will refer it to a committee for consideration • First reading can be waived by a 2/3 vote• Committee considers bill, can amend it, votes on whether to recommend it to the full Senate• A negative recommendation can be overturned by a 2/3 vote of the full Senate
Bills• Full Senate considers bills in second reading and may amend as desired• Roll call vote (by default), majority vote required• Bill delivered to the President for signature or veto• A veto triggers a special meeting of the Senate within 72 hours -- overriding a veto requires a 2/3 vote • Bills are not amendable during a post-veto debate
Bill 10-11-000: A Bill toShow What Bills Look Like Whereas, this is a statement of fact used to support the rationale for having a bill; and Whereas, these are not used as points of debate, nor are they generally debated or amended in a Senate meeting; now therefore be it Enacted, that this is a statement saying what the Student Government should do; and be it further Enacted, that the Student Government should also do whatever is written here.
Resolutions• A statement of opinion of the members of the Senate, not binding on the entire Student Government• No ﬁrst reading, goes directly before the Senate• Voice vote (by default), majority vote required• Does not require approval of the President• Format: Same as a bill, use “Resolved” instead of “Enacted”
Directives• Made from the ﬂoor directing another member of the SG to take speciﬁc actions • Ask for reports, temporarily direct the Speaker or Executives to perform a task, or authorize a time/ circumstance-limited course of action• May not supersede any previously established policy or bill• Roll call vote (by default), 2/3 vote required• Like a bill, requires President’s signature or veto
Policy Books• Outlines the policies of the SG or one of its organs• So far only the Board of Elections Policy Book and the Senate Rules of Debate and Decorum • New policy books cannot be submitted by an individual senator, they just “come up”• Reviewed annually by the Senate, review requires two readings (?) by the Senate
Referenda• Places a question before the student body, or can propose an amendment to the SG Constitution• Requires a 2/3 vote of the Senate or a petition signed by 10% of the undergraduate student body• Does not require approval of the President• 14 days written notice must be served to the campus media before voting on the referendum can commence• 2/3 vote of students needed to pass a constitutional referendum, majority vote to “pass” other referenda
Conﬁrmation of Nominees• Nominees go to CRP for referral to full Senate; only one reading required• Conﬁrmed by a roll-call vote (by default), majority vote required• Judicial Board members, the Parliamentarian, the Board of Elections Chair, and paid Cabinet members• Senators, Executives, and Class & School Council executives if appointed mid-term• Any other appointments can be made through Executive Order or Legislative Order without conﬁrmation by the Senate
Amending the Governing Docs• Constitution: Referendum of the student body required, 2/3 vote of students necessary• Bylaws: Amended through a bill that requires a 2/3 vote of the Senate and signature of the President• Rules of Debate and Decorum: Initially reviewed & approved annually (2/3 vote required) • Amendments made through privileged resolutions that are automatically referred to CRP • Approval of CRP automatically enacts the amendment, but can be reconsidered by the full Senate w/ a two-thirds vote
Amending the Governing Docs• Board of Elections Policy Book • Reviewed & approved by the Senate at the start of the fall semester • Can be subsequently amended through a bill • But, amendments cannot go into effect for 2 months, or until after the next election, whichever comes ﬁrst
Finger-Wagging Motions• Censure Motion: Ofﬁcial declaration of disapproval by the Senate, made from the ﬂoor• Motion of Suspension: Suspend an SG member from their position for a period of time (maximum one month)• Motion of No-Conﬁdence: Remove a member of the Senate leadership from their position• Charges of Impeachment: Remove any SG member from their position
Speaking Rights• All Senators, the four Executives and their Directors, the Chief of Staff, Student Activities Advisor, Parliamentarian, and RHA President enjoy speaking rights in the Senate • Except during the election of the Speaker or Committee Chairs, when only Senators can speak• Anyone else can be granted speaking rights by a two- thirds vote of the Senate• Only Senators can propose legislation, make motions, and vote• In committees: All Senators (others not clearly stated)
Committees• Standing committees are established by the Speaker through a Legislative Order• All members of the Senate must serve in one standing committee, will be assigned by the Speaker• Special/ad-hoc committees can also be established• Committee chairs are elected by the full Senate, Deputy Chairs and Clerks are elected by the committees themselves• Committees must meet at least twice monthly when the full Senate is meeting• All Senators have speaking rights in all committees
Committees• Committee on Rules and Privileges (CRP) • Members: All committee chairs and deputy chairs • Chaired by the Speaker • Deputy Chair of CRP becomes Speaker Pro- Tempore of the Sneate • Considers nominees, amendments to governing documents, other bills affecting the composition of the Senate, and ﬁrst appellate of rulings by the Speaker and/or Parliamentarian
Working in Committee• Meet at a regular time -- minimum twice monthly• Quorum applies -- majority of committee members• When considering bills, be ready to report the status of each bill & have a record of amendments passed• Committees can serve as a collaborative forum for drafting legislation, hearing from constituents, etc.
Minutes• Minutes are a legal record of actions taken in a formal meeting -- they are required• The 4 W’s of Minutes • Where you met • When you called to order & adjourned • Who was in attendance • What was done• Review & approve minutes at subsequent meeting - unanimous consent is all that’s required
Attendance & Proxies• Senators allowed a max. of 4 complete absences from full Senate per semester; proxy required for at least 2 of these• Senators allowed a max. of 4 complete absences from committee meetings per semester (+1 for each additional committee served); proxy required for at least 2 of these• Proxies must be from your constituency (except in committee meetings)• Ofﬁcial notice of proxy required at least 3 hours in advance of a full Senate meeting• Proxies are encouraged, but not required, to vote as you would want them to vote
Attendance & Proxies• Upon exceeding the maximum number of absences, you will be automatically suspended• Suspension can be lifted by recommendation of CRP and approval of the full Senate• If you don’t try to get your suspension lifted within 3 meetings, you will lose your position in the Senate
General Survival Tips• Be familiar with the Governing Documents, but don’t worry about memorizing them• Observe more experienced Senators, ask for advice• Take advantage of the Speaker and Parliamentarian for help and advice anytime you need help• Remember that parliamentary procedure is a tool, not a weapon• Don’t be afraid to try new things
Mission Statement The American University Student Government represents the needs and collective voice ofover 6,000 undergraduates. We provide policy, programming, and service initiatives for the student body. Our mission is to advocate forpolicies that will tangibly beneﬁt students, offer top-notch programs and lasting traditions,provide services and resources to students, andwork with clubs and student leaders to establish a positive cohesion between our groups.
Words of Wisdom• You were selected by your peers to represent their interests and needs in the Student Government• Make yourselves open and accessible to your constituents; they have something to say• Don’t focus on playing politics, focus on helping to ignite positive change on campus• Agree to disagree on the issues, but stay focused and committed to our common goals• Remember that everyone in the SG is a volunteer, and that we are all human• Make the most of this experience, and have fun!