RONR (12th edition) is the current version of the most widely used authority on parliamentary procedure in the United States, used by 90% of all deliberative assemblies. The first edition was published in 1876 and has been regularly revised every ten years since 1970.
RONR is divided into twenty chapters. I through XX. and also into 63 sections. Each section has numbered paragraphs, thus the reference RONR 41:15 refers to paragraph 15 of section 41.
In addition, there are 50 pages of introductory material, pages i through l, a 52-page tinted section with charts, tables and lists, an appendix with sample rules for electronic meetings, and an index.
RONR is available from Amazon in paperback for $18, hardcover for $21, and Kindle for $25. Because RONR is over 800 pages, the bound editions will not lie flat for reading. A spiral-bound version is available for $25 from the National Association of Parliamentarians (NAP). A word-searchable electronic version is also available on thumb drive from NAP. (The search capability of the Kindle version is limited.)
Since RONR is a reference work, only the brave would attempt to read it cover-to-cover. For a clearer overview, RONR - In Brief is recommended. It is only 214 pages and an easier read. It will give a good overview of the rules in RONR. It is written by the same authorship as RONR and is available from Amazon for $8.
Below are reprinted specific citations from RONR referenced on this website. Some end-of-lines have been added for ease of reading.
See also Parliamentary Tips for comments on these rules.
4:58 In cases where there seems to be no opposition in routine business or on questions of little importance, time can often be saved by the procedure of unanimous consent, or as it was formerly also called, general consent. Action in this manner is in accord with the principle that rules are designed for the protection of the minority and generally need not be strictly enforced when there is no minority to protect. Under these conditions, the method of unanimous consent can be used either to adopt a motion without the steps of stating the question and putting the motion to a formal vote, or it can be used to take action without even the formality of a motion.
4:59 To obtain unanimous consent in either case, the chair states that “If there is no objection… [or, “Without objection…”],” the action that he mentions will be taken; or he may ask, “Is there any objection to…?” He then pauses, and if no member calls out, “I object,” the chair announces that, “Since there is no objection…,” the action is decided upon. If any member objects, the chair must state the question on the motion, allow any desired debate (unless it is an “undebatable” parliamentary motion—see 6 and pages t46–t47), and put the question in the regular manner. Or—if no motion has been made—the chair must first ask, “Is there a motion to… [stating the proposed action]”; or he must at least put the question, assuming such a motion. If an objection is made with reasonable promptness, even though the chair may have already announced the result as one of “no objection,” he must disregard such an announcement and proceed to state the question in the usual manner.
4:60 “Unanimous consent” does not necessarily imply that every member present is in favor of the proposed action; it may only mean that the opposition, feeling that it is useless to oppose or discuss the matter, simply acquiesces. Similarly, when a member responds to the chair's inquiry, “Is there any objection…?” with “I object,” he may not necessarily oppose the motion itself, but may believe that it is wise to take a formal vote under the circumstances. In other words, the objection is raised, not to the proposed action, but to the action's being taken without a formal vote. No member should hesitate to object if he feels it is desirable to do so, but he should not object merely for dilatory purposes. If a member is uncertain of the effect of an action proposed for unanimous consent, he can call out, “I reserve the right to object,” or, “Reserving the right to object,…” After brief consultation he can then object or withdraw his reservation.
16:6 Equal Application of Rules to Nonstandard Forms Such as “Call for the Question.” A motion such as “I call for [or “call”] the question,” “I demand the previous question,” “I move to close [or “end”] debate,” or “I move we vote now” is simply a motion for the Previous Question made in nonstandard form, and it is subject to all of the rules in this section. Care should be taken that failure to understand this fact does not lead to violation of members' rights of debate.
41:32 Consent Calendar. Legislatures, city, town, or county councils, or other assemblies which have a heavy work load including a large number of routine or noncontroversial matters may find a consent calendar a useful tool for disposing of such items of business. Commonly, when such a matter has been introduced or reported by a committee for consideration in the assembly, its sponsor, or, sometimes, an administrator, may seek to have it placed on the consent calendar. This calendar is called over periodically at a point established in the agenda by special rule of order, at least preceding standing committee reports. The matters listed on it are taken up in order, unless objected to, in which case they are restored to the ordinary process by which they are placed in line for consideration on the regular agenda. The special rule of order establishing a consent calendar may provide that, when the matters on the calendar are called up, they may be considered in gross or without debate or amendment. Otherwise, they are considered under the rules just as any other business, in which case the “consent” relates only to permitting the matter to be on the calendar for consideration without conforming to the usual, more onerous, rules for reaching measures in the body.
41:41 Orders of the day are divided into the classes of general orders and special orders. A special order is an order of the day that is made with the stipulation that any rules interfering with its consideration at the specified time shall be suspended except those relating:
(a) to adjournment or recess (8, 20, 21);
(b) to questions of privilege (19);
(c) to special orders that were made before this special order was made; or (d) to a question that has been assigned priority over all other business at a meeting by being made the special order for the meeting as described in 41:57.
An important consequence of this suspending effect is that, with the four exceptions just mentioned, a special order for a particular hour interrupts any business that is pending when that hour arrives. Since the making of a special order has the effect of suspending any interfering rules, it requires a two-thirds vote (except where such action is included in the adoption of an agenda or program for a session having no prescribed order of business). Any matter that is made an order of the day without being made a special order is a general order for the time named.
1) While the question is pending, it can be postponed (14) to the specified time by a majority vote (in which case it is a general order); or, by a two-thirds vote, it can be postponed to that time and made a special order.
2) A question that has not yet been brought before the assembly can be made a special order for a future time by means of a main motion adopted by a two-thirds vote. Similarly, it is possible, although less common, to make a question that is not pending a general order for a future time by a majority vote.
3) An agenda or program assigning a specific position or hour to the item of business can be adopted.
The subject is then a general order or a special order, depending on the form of the agenda or program (see 41:58). For the vote required to adopt an agenda, see Procedure for Adoption, 41:61.
Board Meeting Comments, March 2, 2022.
45:3 Right of Abstention. Although it is the duty of every member who has an opinion on a question to express it by his vote, he can abstain, since he cannot be compelled to vote. By the same token, when an office or position is to be filled by a number of members, as in the case of a committee, or positions on a board, a member may partially abstain by voting for less than all of those for whom he is entitled to vote.
45:4 Abstaining from Voting on a Question of Direct Personal Interest. No member should vote on a question in which he has a direct personal or pecuniary interest not common to other members of the organization. For example, if a motion proposes that the organization enter into a contract with a commercial firm of which a member of the organization is an officer and from which contract he would derive personal pecuniary profit, the member should abstain from voting on the motion. However, no member can be compelled to refrain from voting in such circumstances.
48:2 Content of the Minutes. In an ordinary society, the minutes should contain mainly a record of what was done at the meeting;, not what was said by the members. The minutes must never reflect the secretary's' opinion, favorable or otherwise, on anything said or done.
48:3 To modify the rules governing what is regularly to be included in the minutes requires adoption of a special rule of order, although a majority vote may direct the inclusion of specific additional information in the minutes of a particular meeting.
49:21 Procedure in Small Boards. In a board meeting where there are not more than about a dozen members present, some of the formality that is necessary in a large assembly would hinder business. The rules governing such meetings are different from the rules that hold in other assemblies, in the following respects:
1) Members may raise a hand instead of standing when seeking to obtain the floor, and may remain seated while making motions or speaking.
2) Motions need not be seconded.
3) There is no limit to the number of times a member can speak to a debatable question. [*3] Appeals, however, are debatable under the regular rules—that is, each member (except the chair) can speak only once in debate on them, while the chair may speak twice.
4) Informal discussion of a subject is permitted while no motion is pending.
5) When a proposal is perfectly clear to all present, a vote can be taken without a motion's having been introduced. Unless agreed to by unanimous consent, however, all proposed actions must be approved by vote under the same rules as in larger meetings, except that a vote can be taken initially by a show of hands, which is often a better method in small meetings.
6) The chairman need not rise while putting questions to a vote.
7) If the chairman is a member, he may, without leaving the chair, speak in informal discussions and in debate, and vote on all questions. [*4]
3. However, motions to close or limit debate (15, 16), including motions to limit the number of times a member can speak to a question, are in order even in meetings of a small board (but not in meetings of a committee; see 50:25), although occasions where they are necessary or appropriate may be rarer than in larger assemblies.
4. Informal discussion may be initiated by the chairman himself, which, in effect, enables the chairman to submit his own proposals without formally making a motion as described in 4:4–8 (although he has the right to make a motion if he wishes).
63:7 Most ordinary societies should never have to hold a formal trial, and their bylaws need not be encumbered with clauses on discipline. For the protection both of the society and of its members and officers, however, the basic steps which, in any organization, make up the elements of fair disciplinary process should be understood. Any special procedures established should be built essentially around them, and the steps must be followed in the absence of such provisions. As set forth below, these are: (1) confidential investigation by a committee; (2) report of the committee, and preferral of charges if warranted; (3) formal notification of the accused; (4) trial; and (5) the assembly's review of a trial committee's findings (if the trial has been held in a committee instead of the assembly of the society).
63:8 Confidential Investigation by Committee. A committee whose members are selected for known integrity and good judgment conducts a confidential investigation (including a reasonable attempt to interview the accused) to determine whether to recommend that further action, including the preferring of charges if necessary, is warranted.
63:9 Accordingly, if the rules of the organization do not otherwise provide for the method of charge and trial, a member may, at a time when nonmembers are not present, offer a resolution to appoint an investigating committee. This resolution is to be in a form similar to the following: Resolved, That a committee of… [perhaps “five”] be elected by ballot to investigate allegations of neglect of duty in office by our treasurer, J.M., which, if true, cast doubt on her fitness to continue in office, and that the committee be instructed, if it concludes that the allegations are well-founded, to report resolutions covering its recommendations.
63:10 To initiate disciplinary proceedings involving a member, a suitable resolution would be: Resolved, That a committee of… [perhaps “five”] be appointed by the chair [or “be elected by ballot”] to investigate rumors regarding the conduct of our member Mr. N, which, if true, would tend to injure the good name of this organization, and that the committee be instructed, if it concludes the allegations are well-founded, to report resolutions covering its recommendations.
63:11 For the protection of parties who may be innocent, the first resolution should avoid details as much as possible. An individual member may not prefer charges, even if that member has proof of an officer's or member's wrongdoing. If a member introduces a resolution preferring charges unsupported by an investigating committee's recommendation, the chair must rule the resolution out of order, informing the member that it would instead be in order to move the appointment of such a committee (by a resolution, as in the example above). A resolution is improper if it implies the truth of specific rumors or contains insinuations unfavorable to an officer or member, even one who is to be accused. It is out of order, for example, for a resolution to begin, “Whereas, It seems probable that the treasurer has engaged in graft,…” At the first mention of the word “graft” in such a case, the chair must instantly call to order the member attempting to move the resolution.
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