Parliamentarian Instructions

If you need help, text Josh Schneider at 813-298-8267.

Duties of a Parliamentarian

The primary duty of the Parliamentarian is to be available to settle problems that might arise relating to procedure within a chamber. As long as things run smoothly, you should stay in the background. Even on minor parliamentary errors, you should sit back and let the chamber have an opportunity to recognize the error and resolve it. You may wish to point out the error briefly at the end of the session. The general philosophy should be to let the members of the chamber solve their own difficulties.

Only when a major problem or error has been made should you step in and correct matters. In particular, if debate or progress in the chamber bogs down, you should step in and point out ways out of the parliamentary quagmire. You MAY counsel the Presiding Officer on his/her discretionary power to rule dilatory motions out of order and to watch out for speakers that might try to monopolize time.

If the PO has (or is asked) a procedural question that s/he cannot answer, s/he may refer the question to you. Do your best to answer; consult the Congress Manual if you need further guidance. If you need to escalate the question to the tab staff, please do so.

You also function as a resource for the Scorers in your chamber. Their questions will likely go to you first, and please do not hesitate to give your best guidance in accordance with the rules. Please direct all questions concerning tournament procedures, scoring guidelines, and scoring ranges to the Tab Room. The Tab Room and the Congress Coordinator are available as a resource for you.

Starting the Session

Before the start of the first session, you will be given a Master Ballot (paper or electronic), a legislative calendar form, and three copies of the seating charts:

  • Copy 1 is your copy to keep track of recency over the course of the day.
  • Copy 2 is the PO’s copy, again to keep track of recency. Each PO is expected to pass this copy on to the next PO.
  • Copy 3 is an extra; if the PO’s copy becomes unusable for whatever reason, copy your recency records onto this chart and give it to the PO.

These charts are “backwards” relative to the online charts because they reflect the view from the PO’s desk at the front of the room. You are expected to sit next to the Presiding Officer. The charts will also have the Tabroom-generated recency list attached, on the back, or penciled in.

At the start of the Congress, you should preside initially, take attendance from your seating chart, conduct the PO election, and help the chamber set the calendar. You may appoint a Temporary Presiding Officer from the chamber to conduct preliminary business.

Setting the Calendar

When setting the calendar, follow these priorities:

  1. Items with an author present (or a substitute from the same school without legislation of her/his own) must be scheduled before all other items.
  2. Among items with an author (or substitute), one item from each school must be considered before a second item from any school may be considered. Items without an author (or substitute) present need not consider school affiliation in determining calendar order.
  3. All items must be placed on the calendar. Supplemental items, if provided, must be placed last.

Please send a copy of the calendar, the name of the PO, and any absent students to the Congress Coordinator (phone number is at the top of this page).

Guidance for Parliamentarians

Sessions are 1 hour and 30 minutes (or 1 hour and 45 minutes if there are only three sessions). This includes the PO election and any other special orders. However, if the chamber has voted on every item on its calendar, it adjourns sine die, no matter how much time is remaining. By rule, recesses are out of order due to the short session times.

During the Congress, please assist the Presiding Officer by keeping a very careful record of all speeches given during each session and verifying speaker order and recency with the Presiding Officer occasionally. You should track speeches using your seating chart.

Service as Presiding Officer counts as the first speech of the session.

Priority accrues over all four sessions and DOES NOT reset to zero. This is a 2022-2023 NCFL rule.

Scores, Ballots, and Nominations

You will not score the Presiding Officers. However, you may write comments for them, and you are encouraged to do so.

At the end of the last session, you will be asked to rank ALL the legislators in the chamber (1 being the best). You are obligated to consider the Presiding Officers. When ranking the legislators, keep in mind it is not based solely on speeches! You should also consider their activity in the chamber: asking questions, making motions, and how they conduct themselves.

Good luck! Enjoy your time in the chamber!