Committee Procedure

Committee Sessions: (Friday at the State Conference from 1:00 – 4:00 PM)

The Senate and two Assemblies’ (Liberty and Freedom) will arbitrarily be divided into committees. Each committee will have one Committee Chair’s identified by their District Coordinator.  Each chair may select a clerk to assist the Chair.

The Committees have several purposes:

  1. This is the last chance the sponsor(s) have to amend their bill before it is brought to the chamber floor.
  2. All members of the committee should work together to improve all their bills.
  3. As in the real state legislature, the primary purpose of the committee is to improve the bills by group discussion and amendments.

Procedures

      Time limits are recommended to ensure each bill a fair hearing.  The committee chair will take the total allotted time and determine the approximate amount of time that can be spent on each bill (e.g.: if you have 6 bills to cover in one hour, each bill can be discussed in approximately 10 minutes).  They must include ranking and opening team building activities. This will be done on Thursday prior to the conference during committee chair training.

 

If running behind schedule, it is the responsibility of the Chair to interrupt: (“time for discussion of the bill has expired.  We will now proceed to the ranking of this bill.”), and set new time limits.

 

After the Chair calls the meeting to order, s/he will have the members of the committee introduce themselves.  After all introductions are complete, it may be necessary for the Chair to explain any procedures (ranking…etc.)

  • The chair will appoint one member of the committee to serve as clerk. The clerk is responsible for reading bills and recording the outcome on the bill.  Amendments may be made at any time after the clerk reads the bill [THERE IS A LIMIT OF 2 PROPOSED AMENDMENTS PER BILL]
  • The bill sponsor is asked to speak on the purpose and major provisions of his/her bill (OPENING STATEMENT)
  • Committee members in turn question the bill sponsor about the bill, asking for specific information, background information and any other pertinent information necessary to make a decision. (TECHNICAL QUESTIONS)
  • Chair asks if there is anyone present wishing to speak against (con) the bill and if there is, invites him or her to speak. Chair asks if there is anyone present wishing to speak for (pro) the bill.  (This goes back and forth – for and against until all speakers wishing to speak have spoken or the Chair rules the time allotted has expired) Chair calls on bill sponsor to give a summation speech. (After author’s summation, committee may consider the bill for Consent calendar) [CLOSING STATEMENT]
  • After its sponsors have presented each bill, committee members will go into a period of ranking the bill they have just heard. Once ranking is complete, the next bill will be presented
  • PROCEDURE REPEATS ITSELF UNTIL EACH BILL HAS BEEN HEARD!

 

Flow of Committee Hearing

  1. Bill intent (An Act To) is read by Clerk
  2. Sponsor’s Opening Remarks
  3. Technical Questions
  4. Period of pro/Con Debate [amendments can be made during the beginning of pro/con debate for a limited time]
  5. Sponsor’s Closing Remarks
  6. Possible consideration for Consent Calendar
  7. Ranking sheets for this bill are distributed
  8. All ranking sheets are collected

REPEAT STEPS 1-9 until all bills are heard

 

Chambers

Formal parliamentary procedure will be followed at all times during the session.   The following procedures apply within the Senate

  • The presiding officer calls the chamber to order at the beginning of the first session and after every recess.
  • A Presiding Officer or designee will share an opening thought at the beginning of Sunday’s session.
  • The President Pro Tempore leads the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of Sunday’s session.
  • The Bill’s Clerk reads each bill aloud before it is debated.
  • The Bills are debated and voted on in the order that they appear on the docket.
  • Debate continues until session is adjourned.
  • Presiding officers through the Advisor Sgt. at Arms shall regulate movement in and out of the chambers. Only members of the Chamber and the presiding officers have the right to be admitted.
  • Formal parliamentary procedure will be followed at all times.
  • Procedures in the Assembly are the same as in the Senate, except that the Deputy Speaker will lead the Pledge of Allegiance.
  • Movement in an out of the chamber is left up to the chair’s discretion.

 

DEBATE PROCEDURE

This form of parliamentary procedure, adapted from Robert’s Rule of Order, is to be followed at all formal legislative sessions.  It is the responsibility of the legislature to maintain order and efficiency by following these forms.  The following is a list and definitions of all possible motions, periods and procedures.

  • Addressing the Chair  

All remarks to the legislature must be addressed through the Chair.  Nothing you say at any time is really being said directly to the legislature.  It is all being relayed through the Chair.  This means that you must begin each question or statement with either “Mr. Chair” or “Madame Chair.” You may be ruled out of order by the Chair is you fail to do so.  This helps to maintain order and to cut down on PERSONAL REFERENCES.

  • Adjourning

This is done through making a motion to adjourn.  You must be seconded as well as be recognized by the Chair.  If the Chair rules the motion in order, it must pass a two-thirds majority vote.  The Chair will then announce the time for reconvening.

  • Opening Statement

This is given by the Bill sponsor(s) from the podium.  It is their chance to explain the purpose of their bill and to argue in favor of it.  It is the legislature’s first impression of the bill, so use it wisely to give your bill the best possible chance of passing.  All the sponsors of the bill have the right to go to the podium at this time, and remain there until the end of debate, but they may also remain on the floor to debate if they wish.  When you are done making your statement, it is common practice to end it with “Therefore, I urge the passage of this Bill and yield the remainder of my time to my summation.”

  • Closing Statement

This is given by the sponsor(s) at the podium.  They will have a period of time (decided by the Chair) to restate their position, rebut argument, or introduce new arguments in favor of their bill.

  • Division

If the outcome of a voice vote is unclear, any member or the Chair can call division. The Chair will then call for a placard count vote.

  • Moving the Previous Question

This is used to end debate.   This can be done on a con recognition, or after two consecutive pro recognitions. You must raise your placard and be recognized by the Chair.   Your motion must be seconded before the Chair can call for a vote.    If two-thirds or more vote for the motion, the legislature moves into the AUTHOR’S CLOSING STATEMENT.

  • Overriding a Gubernatorial Veto

Although the Governor has vetoed a piece of legislations does not necessarily mean that the bill is dead.  If the chamber disagrees with the Governor’s veto, they can request a re-hearing of the bill (this would mean that the docket would be halted to allow the bill to come up again).  The regular process of the docket will continue once the re-hearing is complete.  The bill would have to go through three (3) rounds of pro-con debate once again.  When the bill is up for a re-casting of votes, there must be a 2/3 majority of the chamber voting for the bill for it to be overridden.  If a 2/3 vote is not attained, the bill will remain vetoed.

 

  • Personal Reference

At no time should you refer to another legislator by name.  Use phrases such as “the previous speaker,” if you need to make references.  This is to enforce the principle that a debate is a debate, not a personal attack.

 

  • Point of Information

Used to ask a question to another member of the legislature.  To ask a question, raise your placard and wait to be recognized by the Chair.  When asked to do so, state your question. Be sure to ADDRESS THE CHAIR beginning you question with “Mr. Chair” or “Madame Chair.”

 

Points of information are most often used during TECHNICAL QUESTIONS, but the Chair may allow other questions to be given to the sponsor(s) or other legislator during debate

 

  • Point of Inquiry

Use this to ask questions directly to the Chair.  You must raise your placard and wait to be called on.  This is most commonly used to ask about parliamentary procedure, the amount of time allowed by the Chair for statements, or the schedule.

 

  • Point of Order

When someone violates parliamentary procedure, alert the chair through this point.  You may interrupt a speaker to call a point of order, and the Chair must immediately recognize you.  The Chair then decides whether your point is valid or not.

 

Sample points:

“Point of order!  Isn’t he supposed to be speaking pro?”

“Point of order!  That wasn’t a technical question.”

 

  • Point of Personal Privilege

Use this if there is something disturbing you in the chamber that the Chair can improve. You can interrupt a speaker for this point, and the Chair will decide if it is valid.

Sample points:

” Point of personal privilege!  Would the sponsor speak up so I can hear him?”

“Point of personal privilege!  There is too much talking in the back of the room.”

The Chair may also require you to rise to a point of personal privilege if you want to leave the room.

 

  • Tabling or Removing from the Table

This is used to postpone debate on a bill until a later time.  It can be done at any time during the debate and requires a two-third majority vote either to table or remove from the table.

 

  • Technical Questions

The sponsors at the podium receive questions on their bill.  All questions must be purely technical, not debatable.  “What does ‘felony’ mean?” and “Why did you chose December 1st as the effective date?” are both technical. “Won’t this cause an increase in drunk driving?” is not technical, and should be ruled out of order by the Chair.

 

To ask a technical question, raise you placard and wait to be recognized by the Chair.  When you are recognized, say “POINT OF INFORMATION” and the Chair will recognize a speaker and then his/her question will be answered immediately by the sponsor(s).  This cycle will continue for the time period assigned by the Chair.

 

  • Voting Procedure

During all voting, whether it is on a procedural motion or an actual bill, the Chair must ask that the doors be barred and no further notes be passed.  The delegates must be silent during a vote, or a re-vote may be called.

 

The Chair decides whether the legislature shall vote by voice, raising placards, or rising in place.  If there is a question as to the outcome of a vote, DIVISION may be called to ask for a placard count.

 

The results of all votes are final.  An issue cannot be brought to a vote again unless it is reintroduced once the Chair has declared the result.

 

Quick Reference Outline of Debate

Remember to address all comments through the Chair.

Period                                                      Motions Allowed

  1. Opening Statement Point of Order

given by sponsor, time                          Point of personal privilege

allotted by Chair

 

  1. Technical Questions Point of order

Questions asked and immediately            Point  of personal privilege

responded to by the Sponsor                 Point of Information

Point  of inquiry

 

  1. Pro/Con Debate Point  of order

alternates between pro                        Point of personal privilege

and con, must end on a                         Point  of inquiry

con by moving the                                                  Point  of information

previous question.                                    * Other motions permitted by the

Chair.

 

* The Chair may choose to allow more complicated motions such as TABLING and AMENDING, or may choose not to allow them because of time restraints.

 

  1. Closing remarks                                          Point of Order

Given by sponsor, time                                         Point of personal privilege

allotted by the Chair

 

  1. Voting Procedure Point of order

Silence must be maintained                                  Point of personal privilege

and doors barred                                             Division

 

NOTE: This section is intended as a guide to those participating in the debate.  The presiding officers and chairpersons are expected to be more familiar with parliamentary procedure and how to deal with many different motions that may be brought up.