800-06
RULES OF DEBATE, DECORUM, VOTING REQUIREMENTS AND PROCEDURES

POLICY & PROCEDURE

Subject:

RULES OF DEBATE, DECORUM, VOTING REQUIREMENTS AND PROCEDURES

Index: LEGISLATIVE

Number: 800-06

Effective Date

8/6/2007

Supersedes

8/1/1985

Page

1 of 5

Staff Contact

Jay Covington

Approved By

Toni Nelson

1.0 PURPOSE:

To establish voting requirements and procedural guidelines to assist Council as it conducts business in official meetings.

2.0 ORGANIZATIONS AFFECTED:

City Council

3.0 REFERENCES:

Robert’s Rules, RCW 35A.12.100, RMC 1-6, RCW 35A.12.120, RCW 42.23, RCW 42.36

4.0 POLICY:

4.1    Rules adopted to expedite the transaction of the business of the Council are procedural only. Failure to strictly observe such rules shall not affect the jurisdiction of the Council or invalidate any action taken at a meeting that is otherwise held in conformance with the law.

4.2    In the normal course of business and notwithstanding the laws or regulations relating to conflict of interest (RMC 1-6), each Councilmember shall at all times be open-minded, objective, impartial, and make no judgment or engage in any partisan position until all of the evidence pertaining to an issue has been submitted to the Council at a regular public meeting.

4.2.1    This language shall not be construed to limit Council committees in reviewing information and developing recommendations for subsequent Council consideration.

4.2.2    It shall be understood that a Councilmember or prospective Councilmember may, in the course of seeking elective office, be asked to state positions on general issues that may eventually come before the Council at a later date. This policy shall, in no way, impair that individual’s right to consider the issue and vote as he/she determines is appropriate.

4.3    In order to avoid an attack on the validity of Council hearings, members of the hearing body shall avoid any private meetings, conferences, or discussions on the merits of the matter or issue before the body, including, but not limited to, specific zoning and related land use proposals, comprehensive planning, and like matters with proponents and opponents of said issues.

4.4    Every Councilmember, unless disqualified by reason of a conflict of interest or otherwise provided by law, shall cast his/her vote upon any matter put to vote by the legislative body.

4.5    Any Councilmember who abstains from voting without a valid reason shall be deemed to have voted with the majority on that particular issue.

4.5.1    A Councilmember who publicly announces that he/she is abstaining from voting or participating in debate on a particular matter for specified reasons shall not subsequently be allowed to withdraw that abstention.

4.6    Tie votes shall be lost motions and may be reconsidered unless the tie is broken by the Presiding Officer’s vote, if permitted pursuant to RCW 35A.12.100/120.

4.7    A Councilmember may change his/her vote only if the request to do so immediately follows the last vote cast and is prior to the time that the result of the vote has been announced by the Presiding Officer or the City Clerk.

4.8    A motion to reconsider any action taken by the City Council may be made only on the day the action was taken or at the next regular meeting of the City Council.

4.8.1    A motion to reconsider may be made only by one of the Councilmembers who voted with the prevailing side.

4.8.2    Nothing in this policy shall be construed to prevent any Councilmember from making or remaking the same or any other motion at a subsequent meeting of the Council.

4.9    Rules of Decorum:

4.9.1    Councilmembers: While the Council is in session, all members must preserve order, decency, and decorum, and no member shall delay or interrupt the proceedings of the Council or disturb any member while speaking, or refuse to obey the order of the Presiding Officer.

4.9.1.1    Discussion by members of the Council shall relate to the subject matter at hand and shall be relevant and pertinent to allow for the expeditious disposition and resolution of the business before the body.

4.9.2    Employees: Members of the City staff shall observe the same rules of order and decorum as applicable to members of the City Council.

4.9.3    Public Addressing Council: Any person making personal, impertinent, or slanderous remarks or who becomes boisterous or, in any way, impedes or interrupts the proceedings of the Council may be barred from further audience before the Council by the Presiding Officer. An individual so barred may not return for the remainder of that meeting unless permission is granted by a majority vote of the City Council.

4.9.3.1    A commissioned representative of the Police Department shall act as Sergeant at Arms for the purpose of maintaining order, peace, and decorum at Council meetings.

4.9.3.2    Any Councilmember may move to require the Presiding Officer to enforce the rules, and the affirmative vote of a majority of the Council shall require him/her to do so.

4.10    Rules of Debate: Except as otherwise provided for in this policy, any special rule adopted by the City Council, or as otherwise provided by state statute, the procedures of the City Council meetings shall be governed by the latest revised edition of “Robert’s Rules of Order.”

5.0 DEFINITIONS:

N/A

6.0 PROCEDURES:

6.1    Rules of Debate.

6.1.1    Getting the Floor: Any Councilmember desiring to speak shall first address the chair, gain recognition by the Presiding Officer, and shall confine remarks to the question under debate. Members shall not engage in any indecorous, abusive, or inappropriate language and shall avoid personal attacks on any other members of the Council or City officials; or impugn the integrity, honesty, or motives of such officials.

6.1.2    Interruptions: A Councilmember, once recognized by the Presiding Officer, shall not be interrupted when speaking unless called to order by the Presiding Officer, or unless a point of order or personal privilege is raised by another Councilmember, or the speaker chooses to yield to a question by another member of the Council. If a Councilmember is called to order, he/she shall cease speaking immediately until the question of order is determined; and, if determined to be in order, he/she shall proceed.

6.1.3    Limitation of Debate: No Councilmember shall be allowed to speak more than once upon any particular subject matter until every other Councilmember desiring to do so has spoken. Each Councilmember shall limit his/her remarks on a particular subject matter to not more than ten (10) minutes.

6.1.4    Points of Order: The Presiding Officer shall determine all points of order, subject to the right of any Councilmember to appeal to the City Council. Upon an appeal, a majority vote shall conclusively determine a question of order.

6.1.5    Point of Personal Privilege: The right of a Councilmember to address the Council on a question of personal privilege shall be limited to cases in which his/her integrity, character, or motives are questioned, or where the welfare of the Council is concerned. Any Councilmember raising a point of personal privilege may interrupt another Councilmember who has the floor only if the Presiding Officer recognizes the privilege.

6.1.6    Privilege of Closing Debate: The Councilmember moving the adoption of an ordinance, resolution, or motion shall have the privilege of closing debate.

6.1.7    Synopsis of Debate: Any Councilmember may request, through the Presiding Officer, the Privilege of having an abstract of his/her statement on any subject under consideration entered into the minutes. If the Council consents, such statement shall be entered in the minutes.

6.1.8    Protest Against Council Action: Any Councilmember shall have the right to have the reasons for his/her dissent from or protest against any action of the Council entered in the minutes. Any such protest or dissent must be in summary form to avoid unnecessary delay or interference with Council business.

6.2    Addressing the City Council:

6.2.1    Manner of Addressing Council: Each person desiring to address the Council shall proceed to the speaker’s stand upon recognition from the Presiding Officer. The speaker shall state for the record his/her name, the city of residence, the subject he/she wishes to discuss, and whom he/she is representing. Unless further time is granted by majority vote of the Council, the speaker shall limit his/her remarks to five (5) minutes. All remarks shall be pertinent to the subject at hand. All remarks must be addressed to the Council as a whole and not to any member individually. No questions shall be asked of a Councilmember or member of the City staff without the permission of the chair. If residents wish a response or to be contacted, they should provide their name and address on a speaker card or via the sign-in sheet to the City Clerk to allow for follow-up contact where the citizen desires it, but in a way that maintains confidentiality of their personal information.

6.2.2    Spokesperson for a Group: In order to avoid repetitious presentations and delay in the business of the Council, whenever any group of persons wishes to address the Council on the same subject matter, it shall be proper for the Presiding Officer to request a spokesperson be chosen by the group to represent their position. It is also appropriate for the Presiding Officer to limit the number of persons addressing the Council if additional matters are to be presented by any other member of such a group.

6.2.3    After Motion: After a motion has been made or a public hearing has been closed, no member of the public shall address the Council from the audience on the matter under consideration without first securing permission to do so from the Presiding Officer or a majority vote of the Council.

6.3    Voting Procedures:

6.3.1    Question to be Stated: After a motion has been properly offered and a second is acknowledged by the Presiding Officer, that person serving as Presiding Officer shall verbally restate each question immediately prior to calling for the vote. Following the vote, the Presiding Officer shall announce whether the question carried or was defeated. In the case of a roll call vote, the Clerk shall announce the results of the vote. The Presiding Officer may, at his/her discretion, publicly state the effect of the vote for the benefit of the audience before proceeding to the next item of business.

6.3.2    Roll Call Vote: In the case of a roll call vote, the sequence of the vote shall progress according to the seating arrangement in a clockwise or counter-clockwise order, with the direction alternating each month. Voting shall always begin with the Council President. Should the Council President be serving as the Presiding Officer or be absent, the roll call vote shall begin with the Council President Pro Tem.

6.3.3    Entry of Ayes and Nays on Record: At any time, at the request of any member of the Council, any question shall be voted upon by roll call and the ayes and nays shall be recorded in the minutes.