A Guide to Parliamentary Procedure: Part 1


“What the @#%$ is going on!”

This may run through your head during your first time at an SRCC general meeting if you aren’t familiar with parliamentary procedure. And unless you are a past SRCC President or U.S. Speaker of the House, we really don’t expect you to be an expert parliamentarian!

But meetings can be a lot more fun if you know what it means to motion, second, vote and suspend the rules (gasp). So here’s an FAQ for all our members (new and longtime veterans):

Why do we use “Parliamentary Procedure”?  To make sure meetings don’t end up in chaos! SRCC and other deliberative assemblies follow similar procedures to accomplish the following:

  1. Establish common rules to allow all members to be heard regardless of position
  2. Create a fair and open forum to thoroughly discuss agenda topics
  3. Effectively drive debate toward deliberative action — vote, postpone, appeal, etc.
  4. Set a framework to document meeting actions for future review

Will I be shamed if I don’t know all the rules?  Nope! We’ve all been there and participation will not restricted by strict application of the rules. Our procedures exist to create a welcoming environment for all topics and opinions.

Where do the rules come from?  SRCC general meetings and executive committee sessions follow our SRCC bylaws and one of the holy books of democratic assemblies, Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised.

What are “Robert’s Rules of Order”?  This book. Written by a U.S. Army colonel and based on procedures used in the House of Representatives, Robert’s Rules of Order provides a common operating framework for local democratic assemblies. By following such a definitive source, SRCCers (SRCCians?) will also become comfortable with how other deliberative bodies operate (like other neighborhood associations or CoA meetings).

Do we bang a gavel?  Sometimes.

What are the most important terms to know? Here’s some.

  • Bylaws: Permanent rules governing a body, which cannot be changed but for formal notice and strict voting thresholds
  • Chair: The presiding officer (usually the SRCC President)
  • Motion: a proposal that the assembly take certain action (e.g. “I move for the adoption of this resolution”)
  • Precedence: refers to motions that must be considered first before a related motion can be addressed (more on this in a future post)
  • Quorum: minimum number of members required to be present to conduct official business (SRCC bylaws state 10% of eligible voting members)
  • Second: a seconding motion is required to act on a motion; this is intended to ensure that a motion has support from more than one member
  • Stating the Motion:  the Chair states the exact wording of the motion to clarify what is being acted upon. Prior to making a motion, the body can have an informational Q&A about an issue. Upon stating the motion and a seconding motion, the Chair opens discussion about acting on the motion at hand. Specific actions including amendments will be covered in a later post!

Author’s Note: The above is intended as an educational guide and do not supercede SRCC bylaws which govern the operation of all SRCC meetings. Please contact the President with any questions.

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