1. Committees in legislative bodies are of three kinds - Standing, Select, and Committee of the Whole.

Standing Committees

2. Standing committees form an important feature in every legislative or other permanent deliberative assembly.

3. They are appointed by the presiding officer, after consultation with his advisers, or a caucus of members may recommend certain persons for each committee.

4. They remain in office until the final adjournment of the assembly, unless sooner relieved for cause, or removed by death or resignation.

5. Each standing committee has one class of deliberative work confided to it for consideration.

6. With its chairman it constitutes a strong branch of the assembly; has power in legislative bodies to summon witnesses and call for papers to expedite its work, and employs a clerk.

Select Committees

7. Select (or special) committees are appointed by the presiding officer of the assembly for a specific purpose, such as the consideration of any one branch of regular business that may be referred to a committee.

8. The first person appointed to serve on a committee is usually honored with its chairmanship.

9. The mover of the appointment of a committee should be the first person named by the chairman to serve upon it, and his refusal to do so is a breach of legislative courtesy, unless a good reason is given for declining.

10. The decisions of a committee are made by a majority vote, and are sent to the assembly in the form of a report, which may embody a series of resolutions.

11. It is the privilege of the minority, however, to express their views in another report, and present it to the assembly, showing why they differ from the majority.

12. After a committee has reported upon the question which it was called to consider, it should be moved by some member of the assembly that the report of the committee be accepted and the committee discharged, unless it is decided to recommit.

Committee Of The Whole

13. A committee of the whole includes every member of the assembly, and its object is to interchange views on the merits of any special matter under discussion, prior to putting it upon its passage.

14. This form of consideration is usually moved by a member who is interested in the measure, is seconded, and then adopted or defeated by a majority vote.

15. Its business is confined to the one measure to be considered.

16. The presiding officer of the assembly does not act as chairman of the committee of the whole, although he must be present, but appoints some competent member to take his place.

17. As the committee of the whole is simply a deliberative body, it cannot call the ayes and nays on the main question, but may limit its session (at the outset) to a certain lenght of time, and regulate the debate by rule.

18. When the discussion is ended, the committee does not adjourn - it only "rises," then dissolves into the original assemblage, reports progress, and asks for permission to sit again, if the business is not finished.

19. A quorum of the assembly constitutes a quorum of a committee of the whole.

20. The assistant of the clerk of the assembly usually acts as clerk of the committee of the whole.


1. A motion to refer a measure to a committee opens the main question to debate.

2. It cannot be made, however, while the floor is occupied.

3. A motion to commit must be seconded.

4. Has preference in debate to the main or previous question, (for it is debatable), a motion to postpone, or a motion to amend.

5. It can be so amended as to name the number of persons to comprise the committee, the manner of their appointment, and the time when they shall report.

6. It requires only a majority vote to carry it.

7. If carried it may be reconsidered.

8. A measure thus committed may, or may not, be accompanied with specific instructions as to its consideration.

9. Such instructions, when given, must be followed.

10. If no instructions are given, the committee may exercise its own methods untrammelled.

11. If a measure has been reported by a committee to the assembly in such a manner as to be unsatisfactory, it may be returned to the same committee for reconsideration. This is called recommitment, and requires a new report.

Chairman's Decision

1. A motion to appeal from the decision of the chairman may be debated.

2. Cannot be amended.

3. May be reconsidered, if carried.

4. May be made at any time, whether the floor is occupied or not.

Debate - How Conducted

1. A debate cannot begin until a motion is made, thus bringing some measure before the assembly, nor until the motion is seconded.

2. No member may speak more than twice on the same measure, unless a motion to amend is made, and then only concerning the amendment, unless by a vote of the assembly.

3. Whatever time is allotted by rule to each member for debate, it may be extended by a vote of the assembly.

4. The member who introduced the measure may open and close the debate, if he chooses to do so.

5. Random reflections on individual members or on the acts of the assembly are forbidden during debate.

6. A member speaking must yield the floor to the chairman when he rises to state a point of order or of information.

7. A call to order requires a member to cease speaking until the question is decided.

8. Respectful attention to the speech of the member who has the floor is only ordinary courtesy.

9. To interrupt a member who is speaking by hisses or other marks of dislike is a breach of decorum, to be frowned down by the assembly.

10. If two or more members rise at the same time to speak to a question, etiquette gives the one opposed to it the preference.

11. Members are not to be spoken of by name, but custom allows reference to them by such terms as " the gentleman from Texas," "the previous speaker," or ", the member on my right."