Why would you need a Parliamentarian?
Five minutes into a Convention, and delegates were looking at the Convention Rules — and already there was a motion to adopt the Rules, a proposed amendment, a ruling by the Chair on the amendment, a vote on the Rules (adopted by 2/3 vote), a re-statement of the amendment, a ruling by the chair on the vote required for adoption of the amendment, an appeal from the decision of the Chair, a vote on the appeal (majority vote, Chair’s decision sustained), and a vote on the amendment (2/3 vote required, lost).
That’s why you’d want a Parliamentarian right next to the Chair.
My fee ranges from $50 to $150 per hour. The amount is established once we have a conversation about what your issues are and what help you need.
Parliamentarians are advisors.
They assist the Chair in running a meeting by advising how to follow the rules. What is the most important rule? Be fair. And the second most important rule? Communicate clearly. People can (and do!) disagree, but meetings really deteriorate if there is a feeling that people are not being treated fairly.
Organizations that follow Robert’s Rules of Order start their Conventions under those rules. Then a Convention will adopt rules specific to the Convention. These typically restrict members’ rights such as the length of debate or the length of speeches during debate.
Often, there is a script to help the Chair run the meeting smoothly. A good script will anticipate what will happen. Robert’s Rules of Order come into play once a motion is on the floor — as in the example above. The Chair needs to know how to handle each motion and what vote is required. The Parliamentarian is there to assist the Chair in following the rules and typically assists with script writing for a Convention.
Presiding at a meeting
In some organizations, it is desirable to have a completely neutral party run the meeting. Parliamentarians can be hired to do this; some are known as professional presiders.
Amending the bylaws
It is good practice to carefully read your bylaws at least once a year. You should of course be consistent with your bylaws! But if you cannot follow your bylaws, amend them so you will be compliant with them. Many organizations amend their bylaws at every Annual Meeting or at every Convention. Separately from the bylaws, you also may have standing rules. These two sets of rules should not contradict each other. It’s helpful to get the advice of a Parliamentarian when writing or revising your Bylaws.
Governance of your organization
Robert’s Rules of Order is not the only authority around , but it is in common use. Bylaws should stipulate a Parliamentary Authority. Why? For the situations not in your Bylaws – there’s no point trying to figure out what to do about something — you just look it up.
For example, a motion was adopted but now you want to un-do that motion. How do you do that? [2.] Or someone makes a motion that you think is entirely improper. Can you try to prevent the motion from being discussed? [3.] Or you would like to revise your bylaws, as changes are needed throughout. [4.]
- Demeter’s Manual of Parliamentary Law and Procedure; Mason’s Manual of Legislative Procedure; American Institute of Parliamentarians Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure.
- Rescind a motion, RONR (12th ed.) 35:1-12 [RONR (11th ed.) pp. 305 – 310]; Reconsider a motion, RONR (12th ed.) 37:1-10 [RONR (11th ed.) pp. 315 – 335].
- Object to Consideration of the Question, RONR (12th ed.) 26:1-9 [RONR (11th ed.) pp. 267 – 270].
- Amendment/Revision of Bylaws, RONR (12th ed.) 57:5 [RONR (11th ed.) p. 593].
Sometimes an organization needs help with elections — carrying them out properly; having an outsider provide oversight; or having non members collect and count ballots.
(A couple of things to know about elections: you really should always take nominations from the floor. A nomination does not need a second — the question before you is: are you nominating this person or that person, not can you nominate a person. And when you have an election, the question before you should be: do I vote for this person or that person? Not do I vote Yes or No for one particular person. )