Parliamentary Education Continues

The Louise Saks Parliamentary Unit (LSPU)  meets the third Tuesday morning of the month at the First Presbyterian Church in Birmingham. The March meeting continued its parliamentary study with a lesson called Rules Governing Assignment of the Floor.

When a club is meeting, anybody wishing to speak rises and addresses the presiding officer by saying,  “Madame President” or “Mister President” or whatever title the presiding officer has.  Then the presiding officer recognizes the member with a simple nod in a small meeting or a more formal “The chair recognizes…” in a large meeting.

Suppose that two people rise at the same time and address the presiding officer:  In gentle, small meetings one person may demur with, “Go ahead.” But many meetings are neither gentle nor small.  Who does the presiding officer recognize to speak first?

  • Obviously the person who rose and addressed the presiding officer first is recognized.
  • But if one person making the motion to put business on the floor  hasn’t yet spoken, that person speaks first.
  • The person who has not yet spoken on the motion gets preference.

Suppose the presiding officer doesn’t know who was first.  She/he can seek the opinion of the assembly, with the person receiving the most votes (to speak first) is given permission to speak.

In large meetings like conventions where there may be several microphones for speakers to use, more formal ways of assigning the floor are established to help the presiding officer select speakers.  Sometimes a “pro” and “con” order is used to give each group equity and assist members in keeping track of arguments for and against an item of business.

Presenters Barbara Bonsignore and Joan C. Price answered many questions and offered participants a chance to enact a script that included assigning-the-floor situations.  Members shared their experiences, good and bad, related to seeking for floor to speak.

LSPU always welcomes guests who come to watch, participate, learn, and meet people who are parliamentary pro’s!  Next month we will meet April 18 at 9:30 a.m. at the First Presbyterian Church, 1669 West Maple in Birmingham. The lesson that day will be Meeting Scripts.