Monday, October 28, 2013

Parliamentary Procedure: Manuals and Rules Congress, State Legislatures, Organizations

Parliamentary  procedure, sometimes called parliamentary practice, is applied to a code of reference, a book or manual, that contains parliamentary rules that are adopted for use by varying  organizations. Three distinct groups use this form of practice as described below.

Manual of Parliamentary Practice for the Use of the Senate of the United States was written by Thomas Jefferson in 1801. This is the first American book on parliamentary procedure.
Jefferson studied parliamentary procedure at the College of William and Mary.

In 1828, the Senate published a version of “Jefferson’s Manual,” eliminating the Senate Rules. Then starting in 1888 through 1977, the Senate Manual included Jefferson’s Manual in the biennial editions. The Senate removed Jefferson’s Manual because their manual was growing in a section entitled “General and Permanent Laws Relating to the United States Senate.”

The House of Representatives incorporated Jefferson’s Manual into its rules starting in 1837. The House prints an abridged version entitled Constitution, Jefferson’s Manual and Rules of the House of Representatives. This version is online starting with the 104th Congress in 1995 to the present time. The State Library has the current  paper edition at the Reference Desk.

Mason’s Manual of Legislative Procedure is the only publication designed for state legislature. It is published by NCSL (National Conference of State Legislatures) and is divided into ten parts: including Parliamentary Law and Rules; Rules Governing Particular Motions; Quorum, Voting and Elections; Conduct of Business and Investigations and Public Order.

Mason’s is available for purchase from the NCSL bookstore, information about the publication can be found here. The State Library has a copy at the Reference Desk.

Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised, was originally published in 1876 by General Henry Martyn Robert who was involved in church and civic organizations and had studied parliamentary law. Its original title was: Pocket Manual of Rules for Deliberative Assemblies. There has been 11 revised editions of the rules starting in 1876.

The cover states that Robert’s is “the only current and authorized edition of the classic work on parliamentary  procedure.” The book is primarily designed for societies. The most current edition recognized that technology has created change. The index has references to emails, videoconferences and teleconferences.

The State Library welcomes all to room 341 of the State House from 9am to 5pm, Mondays through Fridays.