House Clerk Paul Smith’s Parliamentary Points

  • Learn House Rules.
  • Mason’s is fourth on our precedent list and only speaks where rules are silent.
  • Debate must be confined to the question before the body and avoid personalities. (Mason’s 124.1)
  • Debate on a bill is confined to the bill confined to the bill under consideration and does not extend to criticism of other bills before the house OR in committee, even though they related to the same subject. (Mason’s 101.4)
  • No one is to speak impertinently, or beside the question, superfluously or tediously. (Mason’s 121.1)
  • No person may indulge in personalities, use indecent or profane language, or participate in conduct that disrupts or disturbs the orderly proceedings of the body. (Mason’s 121.2)
  • It is out of order in debate to refer to matters not yet reported out by a committee or to refer to committee procedure, including what was said or done in committee or by any member of the committee, unless it is referenced in the committee report itself. (Mason’s 101.5)
  • No member should refer to the other members by name in debate. (Mason’s 110.2, 124.2)
  • It is not the person but the measure that is the subject of debate, and it is not allowable to arraign the motives of a member… (Mason’s 124.3)
  • It is irregular and unparliamentary for a member of one body to quote or refer to the vote by which a measure passed the other body of the legislature. (Mason’s 111.2)
  • Any matter awaiting adjudication in a court should not be debated or discussed in a legislative body. (Mason’s 111.3)
  • The purpose of a question is to obtain information and NOT to supply it to the body. A question may not contain statements of fact unless they be necessary to make the question intelligible and can be authenticated. (Mason’s 114.6)
  • Debate on a point of order is closed when the presiding officer makes a decision thereon. (Mason’s 100.5) The decision of the speaker on a question of order shall be conclusive unless the decision is IMMEDIATELY appealed to the house. (House Rule 2) An appeal is debatable… the question of which an appeal rose is not subject to debate on appeal, but only the specific question involved in the point of order from which the appeal was taken. (Mason’s 232.2, 3)
  • Motions to limit debate are not debatable, but are amendable. (Mason’s 358.1, 2)
  • The presiding officer of a house of a state legislature is always addressed as Mr. or Madam Speaker or in committee, including committee of the whole, Mr. or Madam Chair. (Mason’s 110.3)

Example of a Parliamentary Inquiry: LINK

Debatable Motions

  • Postponing to a day/time certain
  • Commit (or recommit)
  • Withdrawing bill from committee
  • Disposition of bills
  • Reconsideration (within limits)
  • Adopting/Amending Rules
  • Suspending Rules
  • Appeals

Non-Debatable Motions

  • Adjourn
  • Lay on the Table
  • Previous Question (Limit Debate)
  • Remove from the Table
  • Call of the house
  • Recess (when other business is pending)
  • Parliamentary inquiries
  • Questions relating to priority of business for the day
  • Dividing the question