Inside the Division


Parliamentary Procedure is the constructive and ethical practices use to encourage and facilitate the orderly and effective transaction of business in deliberative assemblies under the established rules of parliamentary law and unwritten laws of common sense, courtesy, fairness and cooperation.  Decisions are made by the majority.  Protection of the minority is provided.

General Classification of Motions,

A. Main or Principal Motions:  is a motion made to bring before the assembly, for its consideration, any particular subject.  (Must have a second, can be debated or amended) A main motion cannot violate national or state laws or the bylaws of the organization.  Even if a motion is passed by an unanimous vote it is null and void if the violates the law or bylaws.

B.  Subsidiary Motions:  is a motion that can be made while a main motion is pending; and are such as applied to other motions for the purpose of most appropriately disposing of them, by means of modification or action posted or referred to committee etc.

  • Lay on the table (not debatable)

  • The Previous Question (2/3 - not debatable)

  • Limit or extend limits of debate (2/3)

  • Postpone definitely, or to a certain time.

  • Commit, refer or recommit

  • Amend (debatable unless the motion to be amended is not debatable)

  • Postpone indefinitely

C. Incidental Motions: are such as arise out of another questions which is pending and therefore take precedence of and must be decided before any other business is taken up.

  • Questions of Order and Appeal**(Mr. Chairman, I rise to a point of order Breach of rules or conduct) (Does not need a second and not debatable)

  • Suspension of Rules (2/3) (not debatable)

  • ** Objection tot he Consideration of a Question (2/3) (not debatable)

  • Division of Assembly (no second - not debatable)

  • Motion relating to Methods of Making or to Closing or to reopening Nominations.

  • Requests growing out of Business Pending.  A request for information, for leave to Withdraw a Motion, to read papers, to be excused from duty, etc.

D. Privileged Motions: are such as, while not related to the pending question are of so great importance as to require them to take precedence of all other questions

  • Fix the time to adjourn

  • Adjourn (not debatable)

  • Take a Recess (not debatable)

  • **Raise to a question of privilege (Mr. Chairman I rise to a point of Privilege, heat, noise etc.) (Not debatable)

  • Call for Order of the day (2/3)

Sample of a meeting


Today we are an club of gourmet diners.  The meeting has been called to order by the chairman.  The secretary has taken the roll call and we have a quorum.  The Chairman announced as quorum and says we can proceed with  the business of the day.  The minutes have been read and approved.   All reports have been made and approved.  We will proceed to new business.

The Chairman recognizes a member who wants the floor.   The member says: "Mr. Chairman, my name is  __________. I move that Post Department Vice commander Tony Carman take us to lunch at our noon recess today."   This is a Main Motion and must be seconded and can be debated and amended.  With out rising  another member seconds the motion.   The Chairman restates the motion and opens it to debate.

Another member rises to be recognized and says:   "Mr. Chairman my name is  _________ I agree, but I would like to keep the amount of money Past Department Vice Commander Carmen spends within reason, so I move that the main motion be amended that he spends no more than $5.00 per person for the lunch." This is a subsidiary motion that needs a second, can be debated and amended.  Without rising, another member seconds that motion. (There are now tow motions on the floor, a main motion that Past Department Vice Commander Carmen takes us to lunch today and a subsidiary motion to amend that main motion that it will cost no more than $5.00 per person)

A third member rises to get the floor. "Mr. Chairman, my name is _______ I move that we refer this question to committee for discussion and that the committee then report to us at our next months."  This is a subsidiary motion but outranks a motion to amend Hence, this motion must be acted on before the motion to amend is acted on.  (If the question were to  referred to committee for action next month it would be a moot question since that main and subsidiary motion to amend are for lunch today.  Hence, the Chairman is within his rights to rule this motion our of order.)

Before the Chairman can continue a member rises and says: :I rise to a point of privilege." (This is a Privileged motion which does not need a second, cannot be debated, cannot be amended.  There is no vote, and the member can interrupt a speaker on the floor.)  The Chairman asks what his questions is?  The member says" It's too hot in here can we open a window?"  The Chairman determines that it is in fact warm and stuffy and asks the Sgt-at-Arms to open a window.  Another member stands and says: "I move that we recess for five minutes while the room airs out."  This is a Privileged motion which needs a second but cannot be debated and is of higher rank than any motion on the floor. However, it can be amended and need a majority vote to pass.   The Chairman restates the motion and says:  Are you ready for the question?   All in favor of taking a five minute recess signify by saying aye, those opposed no.  The ayes have it.

After the recess the Chairman reconvenes the meeting.   He again restates the motion to amend and opens it to debate.  A member rises and says: " I agree that Past Department Vice Commander Carmen should take us to lunch and that it shouldn't cost over $5.00 per person but I further move that since we are a group of gourmets who really enjoy fine food that we lunch at McDonalds."   A member seconds that motion.  This another subsidiary motion asking to amend an amendment.  This is a amendment of the 2nd degree and no other amendments can now be added to the main motion.

The Chairman opens the second amendment that we eat at McDonalds, for discussion.  (During debate each person can speak one time for a stated number of minutes which are usually indicated in the rules.  However, after all members have spoken the member that mode the motion can speak one more time.   They should rise and speak directly to the Chairman, and never to other speaker by name.  The Chairman should alternate speakers, for and against the question.)   After a brief discussion where some wanted to go to Arby's and others wanted to go to Burger King the Charmin says, "Are you ready for the question?"  If no further debate is wanted the Chairman should  say: "All those in favor of going to McDonalds signify by the sign of Aye.  Those opposed say no."  The Chairman will then give his decision, The Ayes have it and the second amendment has passed.

The Charmin restates the first amendment that lunch will cost no more than $5.00 per person, and opens it to discussion.  When discussion is finished or if there is no discussion the Chairman says: "Ate you ready for the question?  All in favor of lunch costing no more than $5.00 per person signify by saying aye, those opposed no.  The ayes have it."

Now the Chairman restates the original main motion which have been amended that Post Department Vice Commander Carmen take us to lunch at McDonalds and that it costs no more than $5.00 per person, and opens it to discussion.   (During the recess Past Department Vice Commander Carmen had tried to muster support against the question.  Hence, there is a great deal of discussion both pro and con to the question.)   After discussion has concluded the Chairman says: "Are you ready for the question?  All in favor of Department Vice Commander Carmen taking us to lunch at McDonalds at a cost of no more than $5.00 per person say aye, opposed no."  It sounds like a very close vote and before the Charmin makes up his mind a member rises and says: I call for a Division." A Division is an incidental motion which requires no second, cannot be debated or amended and is not voted on.  A Division calls for standing vote. The Chairman restates the motion  and asks all in favor to stand and be counted, those opposed to stand and be counted.  The Chairman then announces the count and winning vote.  Pat Commander Carmen must take us to lunch!

At this point if there is no further business the Chairman will entertain a motion to adjourn.  The motion to adjourn is a privileged motion which need a second but cannot be debated or amended and needs a majority vote to succeed.

In this simple exercise we have given examples of main, subsidiary, incidental and privileged motions.  These can be applied to any organization for any kind of business and is the proper way to conduct a meeting.