Roberts Rules of Order

Disclaimer: This page should help to explain some of the basics of NCSL parliamentary procedure and is by no means an exhaustive overview. Also for the purposes of class, the matter before the body will generally be a resolution, but here it is stated in more general terms.

The Chair: The chair is a person who serves as the moderator for debate and ensures that procedure is followed.

The Docket: The docket is essentially an agenda for the body, items are debated in the order specified by the docket.

Points: There are three types of points used in parliamentary procedure; Point of Order, Point of Inquiry, Point of Information and Point of Personal Privilege. Here are some examples of how they are used:

Point of Order: The chair has overlooked an aspect of procedure and a correction is in order. "Previous Question requires a 2/3's majority."

Point of Inquiry: There is a question about how to use procedure. "How would I motion to vote?"

Point of Information: There is a fact that the body would benefit from being aware of. "North Carolina has 200,000 school busses."

Point of Personal Privilege: A member of the body has a request. "I cannot hear the speaker, can he speak louder?"

Motions: Motions are requests put before the body to take a certain action. Examples of more prevalent motions are:

Motion to Table - Takes the current item on the docket and postpones it to a later time.

Motion to Adjourn - Ends the meeting of the body.

Motion to Move the Amendment at the Table - Proposes and amendment for a particular item before the body at that time.

Amendments: Amendments are a proposed change to a matter before the body. The must be germain and should not negate the intent of the matter before the body. Amendments are introduced by a motion to move the amendment at the table. Once an amendment is proposed, the body automatically moves into debate on the amendment. Amendments can be either friendly or unfriendly and require a majority vote to become incorporated into the matter before the body. Once voted upon, the debate topic returns to the resolution as a whole.

Speaking: The chair will recognize members of the body to speak on a topic in the following order: For, Against, To, and On. A to speech should be neither for nor against the matter before the body and should present an item that merely requires the body's consideration. An on speech can serve as either for or against the matter before the body. After speaking, the speaker may yield one of three ways; the chair, queries or to another delegate.

Voting: In order to vote, a member of the body must call for it by saying "Question." This may be objected to by any member. "Previous Question" may then be called forcing the body to a 2/3's majority vote on whether or not to vote. Once voting begins, no one may enter or leave the room and no talking is permitted. A majority vote will be taken on the resolution as a whole with any amendments that have been made.

Quick Tips:

Always state your full name and school before giving a speech or asking a question so that the body may be informed.

When refering to others in the body, refrain from using the word "you" as this refers to the chair. "The Author," "The Speaker," "The Querist," "The Honorable Delegate," and other terms may be used to address another member of the body.

After a querist has stated their question to the speaker, the speaker should refrain from dialog with the querist unless a request for clarification has been granted by the chair.


Other Resources

NCSL Alumni Jim Slaughter's Robert's Rules Site

Elon NCSL Constitution

Last Update -- February 19, 2008
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