MSA Senate enforces better parliamentary procedure

Senate Speaker Jake Sloan said he wants to avoid speeding up the legislative process.

The Missouri Students Association Senate has recently clarified it will avoid moving legislation from first reading to second reading of acts.

This comes as an effort to maintain the parliamentary procedure outlined in the MSA bylaws.

Although the bylaws allow moving acts straight to second reading, it is preferred that acts get readings at two full Senate meetings, Sen. Ben Bolin said. The senate bylaws and Robert’s Rules of Order both specify that legislation should be given two full readings. Two full readings allow senators more time to read, understand and discuss legislation before voting on it.

“We are allowed to (move to second reading of acts) with our rules, but we are trying to avoid it simply because if there is a process set in place for it to go through two readings of full Senate, then it needs to go through two readings at a full Senate, not just a single reading,” MSA Senate Speaker Jake Sloan said.

Sometimes, though, it is necessary for the Senate to expedite the process and move straight to second reading of acts when there are time constraints. For example, if an organization is in need of funding, the Senate can move to second reading. The movement requires a majority vote.

“There are certain times when things are time sensitive and need to be changed immediately,” Sloan said. “In the past we have had to move the date of elections, so things of that nature obviously we don’t have time to go through that (two full readings). But, one of the main points is the fact that people have more time to sit through and listen and understand what is happening (if there are two full readings).”

This push to give legislation two full readings is part of Senate's efforts to enforce correct parliamentary procedure. The parliamentary procedures as set forth in the bylaws and Robert’s Rules of Order are important to keep an orderly, civil and fair debate, Bolin said.

To ensure that senators understand parliamentary procedure, they are trained at the annual Senate retreats. Additionally, at each Senate meeting, senators are given a sheet that outlines parliamentary procedure.

“In a very general sense, I think (parliamentary procedure) gives order to chaos,” operations committee chairman Logan Borgsmiller said. “Otherwise it would be 65, 70 people trying to insert their opinion. There would be no order to the proceedings. Also, I think the way it’s most important is that it guarantees that every piece of legislation is respected and is given due consideration and that inherently we as a Senate are passing what is best for the student body as a whole.”

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