Who is Robert Anyway and Why Does He Have So Many Rules?

  • 03 Apr 2013 10:29 PM
    Message # 1259091
    Mariana Fradman (Administrator)

    Who is Robert Anyway and Why Does He Have So Many Rules?

    By: Donna M. Huntermark, RP®, Pa.C.P.

    NFPA Region IV Director

    If you have attended any NFPA Policy Meeting at convention or a NFPA Board Meeting or even your own association’s board meeting, you probably have heard mention of Robert’s Rules. But just who was this person, why did he come up with so many rules and why do boards use these rules. Also, who really knows all those rules?

    Robert's Rules of Order is a book written by Brig. Gen. Henry Martyn Robert, containing rules of order intended to be used as a parliamentary authority for use by a deliberative assembly, such as board of directors.

    Henry Martyn Robert (May 2, 1837 – May 11, 1923) was born in Robertville, South Carolina, and raised in Ohio, where his father moved the family because of his strong opposition to slavery. Robert was nominated to West Point, and graduated fourth in his class in 1857. He became a military engineer. Robert was president of the Board of Engineers from 1895 to 1901. He was made brigadier general on April 30, 1901, and was appointed Chief of Engineers. He died in Hornell, New York, and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. He is most famous for his Pocket Manual of Rules of Order for Deliberative Assembliesundefineda collection of rules regarding parliamentary procedure, published in 1876. The author's interest in parliamentary procedure began in 1863 when he was chosen to preside over a church meeting and, although he accepted the task, felt that he did not have the necessary knowledge of proper procedure. He sta rted the manual in response to his poor performance in leading the church meeting that turned into open conflict because of abolitionist concerns at the church. He resolved that he would learn about parliamentary procedure before attending another meeting. In his later work as a member of several organizations, he discovered that members from different areas of the country had very different opinions regarding what the proper parliamentary rules were, and these conflicting views hampered the organizations in their work. He became convinced of the need for a new manual on the subject, one which would enable many organizations to adopt the same set of rules. The rules are loosely based on procedures used in the United States House of Representatives, but the rule book was not intended for use in national and state legislatures.

    Parliamentary procedure is used by all types of decision-making bodies on a daily basis: school boards, homeowners' associations, city councils, and non-profit boards of directors, for example. Parliamentary procedure also defines what duties people typically have when they are elected the president, secretary, or treasurer of an organization. Parliamentary procedure defines how groups of people, no matter how formal or informal, can most effectively meet and make decisions in a fair, consistent mannerundefinedand make good use of everyone's time. For fair and orderly meetings and conventions, Robert’s Rules provides common rules and procedures for deliberation and debate in order to place all members on the same footing and speaking the same language. Robert's Rules provides for constructive and democratic meetings, to help, not hinder, the business of the assembly. No "undue strictness" is allowed to intimidate members or l imit full participation.

    But who truly knows all the intricacies of all the rules? That is where the parliamentarian comes into play. A parliamentarian is an officer or outside consultant designated by an organization to serve as an expert in parliamentary procedure. At the NFPA convention, there is always a parliamentarian at the Board of Directors’ podium to answer any questions that the Board or a delegates may have regarding a debate, agenda topic, discussion or vote.

    A Professional Registered Parliamentarian (PRP) is an individual who has received professional accreditation from the National Association of Parliamentarians. In order to receive this designation, this member must pass an examination on advanced knowledge of parliamentary law and procedure according to Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised, and must successfully complete a practical course demonstrating an ability to provide professional services such as presiding, performing the role of parliamentarian for a presiding officer, and issuing professional opinions. A PRP is qualified to assist organizations or individuals in the application of parliamentary procedure for the orderly conduct of business. Good parliamentary procedure is based on sound democratic principles and respect for the dignity of the individual. A PRP offers an opinion or an interpretationundefinednever a rulingundefinedbut may be expected to cite a specific rule or reference to support an opi nion. A PRP offers advice to the presiding officer in an unobtrusive manner, and does not call attention to small errors unless they infringe upon the rights of the members or are in violation of the bylaws or other organization rules.[1]

    Here are the basic elements of Robert's Rules, used by most organizations:

    1. Motion: To introduce a new piece of business or propose a decision or action, a motion must be made by a group member ("I move that......") A second motion must then also be made (raise your hand and say, "I second it.") After limited discussion the group then votes on the motion. A majority vote is required for the motion to pass (or quorum as specified in your bylaws.)

    2. Postpone Indefinitely: This tactic is used to kill a motion. When passed, the motion cannot be reintroduced at that meeting. It may be brought up again at a later date. This is made as a motion ("I move to postpone indefinitely..."). A second is required. A majority vote is required to postpone the motion under consideration.

    3. Amend: This is the process used to change a motion under consideration. Perhaps you like the idea proposed but not exactly as offered. Raise your hand and make the following motion: "I move to amend the motion on the floor." This also requires a second. After the motion to amend is seconded, a majority vote is needed to decide whether the amendment is accepted. Then a vote is taken on the amended motion. In some organizations, a "friendly amendment" is made. If the person who made the original motion agrees with the suggested changes, the amended motion may be voted on without a separate vote to approve the amendment.

    4. Commit: This is used to place a motion in committee. It requires a second. A majority vote must rule to carry it. At the next meeting the committee is required to prepare a report on the motion committed. If an appropriate committee exists, the motion goes to that committee. If not, a new committee is established.

    5. Question: To end a debate immediately, the question is called (say "I call the question") and needs a second. A vote is held immediately (no further discussion is allowed). A two-thirds vote is required for passage. If it is passed, the motion on the floor is voted on immediately.

    6. Table: To table a discussion is to lay aside the business at hand in such a manner that it will be considered later in the meeting or at another time ("I make a motion to table this discussion until the next meeting. In the meantime, we will get more information so we can better discuss the issue.") A second is needed and a majority vote required to table the item being discussed.

    7. Adjourn: A motion is made to end the meeting. A second motion is required. A majority vote is then required for the meeting to be adjourned (ended). [2]

    [1] National Association of Parliamentarians, http://parliamentarians.org/

    [2] http://www.ulm.edu/staffsenate/documents/roberts_rules_of_order.pdf(compose message here)

    Sent by Donna M. Huntermark, RP, Pa.C.P., Director, Region IV

    Last modified: 09 Jul 2018 10:27 AM | Mariana Fradman (Administrator)

ContactCreditsJoinPrivacy PolicyTerms of Use • © New York City Paralegal Association Inc.
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software