Convention Rules

In common with a legislature or other deliberative body, the Convention has need to establish and adopt rules for the orderly conduct of its work and to prescribe for such officers as it deems necessary with a general statement of the duties and powers to be exercised by them. There are, however, certain unique features of a constitutional convention which require departure from the usual legislative rules. A most important distinctive feature of the deliberations of the Convention is that its end product, a Constitution, must be a unified instrument which expresses with consistency and clarity, in logical order, and in harmonious, understandable style, the multiple and broad topics of which it treats. Such a unified instrument is to be fashioned by the fifty-five Delegates from the many and diverse ideas and proposals initially introduced and can therefore be readily recognized as a difficult task. This feature is in large contrast to the deliberations of a legislature where the end product is composed of numerous laws which are introduced, considered, and finally passed upon separately and independently of each other. The Convention rules and procedures should be designed to accomplish the task of coordinating the work of the various committees and bringing together efficiently and effectively the articles produced into a unified whole: the Constitution.

Another distinctive feature as compared to the typical legislature is that the Convention sits as a single house, so that legislative rules contemplating a bicameral body may not be in point in many particulars. The Convention is also distinctive in that it is a single session body which acts without continuity of procedure with preceding or subsequent sessions and without necessary reference to an established body of legislative law.

All of these distinctive factors have given rise to the adoption of a special set of rules for constitutional conventions, adapted to the circumstances of the particular convention. The Delegates at College may wish, therefore, to operate under temporary rules during a period of time sufficient to consider carefully a suitable set of permanent rules. To aid in this consideration there will be available for the use of the Delegates, copies of the rules used in other recent constitutional conventions, including those of Missouri, Hawaii, and New Jersey.

The subjects normally dealt with in permanent rules are set forth below:

1. Officers of the Convention and a general description of their duties and authority.
2. Standing committees including their method of selection and the scope of their activities.
3. Committee of the whole including its purposes, use and procedures.
4. Conduct of business including quorum, order of business, motion, debate, decorum, and parliamentary authority to be followed, such as Roberts or Cushing.
5. Procedures and form for proposals, submissions, and other information addressed to the people.

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