House Rules

General Rules of Order and Procedure



General Rules of Order and Procedure
Rules Relating to Members of the House
Rules Relating to the Presiding Officer
Rules Relating to Committees
Rules Relating to the Clerk and the Journal
Joint Rules of the Two Houses


Rule 1. The Clerk shall on meeting days, thirty minutes before the session begins, clear the floor of the House of all unauthorized persons.

The proceedings of the House shall be public but no person shall be admitted to the floor of the House while the same is in session, except members of the Legislature, the officers and employees of the two Houses, the Governor and his or her representative, the Lieutenant Governor and his or her representative, legislative interns, news media representatives who shall be placed by the Clerk of the House, and other persons to whom the members, by unanimous vote, extend the privileges of the floor.

The families of the members of the House shall have the privilege of the floor on the first legislative day of any regular or special session.

When former members are admitted to the floor, they shall not engage in any lobbying activities. Former members who are either registered lobbyists or who are employed by registered lobbyists shall not have privileges of the floor. Former members who lobby on the floor may be banned from the floor for the remainder of a session, subject to a recommendation from the Internal Affairs Committee.

Rule 2. No motion shall be deemed in order to admit any person on the floor of the House to present any petition, memorial, or address, or to have any such read.

Rule 3. Only the Speaker shall introduce visitors in the House gallery. Such introductions shall be made at the request of any House member, but shall be made only at such time as not to interrupt or disturb the orderly transaction of business.

Rule 4. Unless it is otherwise specifically provided for by resolution or motion, the House shall meet at ten o'clock a.m. Debate on any motion or resolution pertaining to when the House will convene is limited to 30 minutes, at which time the Speaker shall call for a vote on the pending substitutes or amendments, or both, if there be any, in their order, and then on the main question. The Speaker shall endeavor to equitably apportion debate time among the various members or groups of members wishing to debate.

Rule 5. The Speaker shall take the chair every day at the hour fixed on the preceding adjournment. The Speaker shall immediately call the members to order, and on the appearance of a quorum begin the order of business.

If the Speaker calls the House to order and there are not enough members present to constitute a quorum, and the Governor has declared a state of emergency pursuant to Section 31-9-8 of the Code of Alabama 1975, then the Speaker may set the date and time for the House to reconvene for its next day of business. The Speaker must give the members notice of the next meeting time at least 12 hours before the time set for the House to convene.

Rule 6. The order of business shall be:

(1) Prayer

(2) Pledge of Allegiance

(3) Roll call

(4) Approval of the Journal. The reading of the journal may be dispensed with on motion, which motion shall be decided without debate.

(5) Leaves of absence

(6) The reports of standing committees of bills, which shall be read by their titles a second time. In the call of committees the Speaker shall call them in their order.

Standing committees may also report at any time later in the same legislative day, prior to adjournment, by filing their reports with the Clerk.

(7) Introduction of bills and resolutions and recognizing members for purposes of stating points of personal privilege.

Bills and resolutions may also be introduced at any time later in the same legislative day, prior to adjournment, by filing them with the Clerk.

(8) The report of the Committee on Rules on resolutions, which shall be read by their titles and a proper disposition made of them.

(9)(a) The consideration of local bills that are uncontested that do not involve a tax, fee, or constitutional amendment.

(b) Uncontested local bills involving a tax, fee, or constitutional amendment.

(10) The consent calendar as proposed by the Rules Committee.

(11) The unfinished business in which the House was engaged at its last adjournment.

(12) The consideration of bills in the order presented on the calendar.

Rule 7. Executive or Senate messages shall have priority over other business, and as soon as they are called by the Speaker they shall be read by the Clerk and a proper disposition made of them. Motions relating to Executive or Senate messages relating to local bills or local constitutional amendments are subject to limited debate. The House shall then proceed with the business engaged in when interrupted by the message.

Rule 8. No motion to carry over all bills on the calendar to reach a certain bill shall be in order.

Rule 9. The rules of the House shall not be suspended except by a four-fifths vote of a quorum present and voting.

Rule 10. No rule change shall be proposed without one day's written notice of the change thereof being given to the Clerk who shall place such notice in each member's House mailbox.

All proposed rule changes shall be considered when requested by the member who filed such notice. Such consideration shall be during the introduction of bills and resolutions pursuant to Rule 6(7) and shall be in resolution form and offered by the member.

Rule changes shall be enacted by a majority vote of the House membership.

Rule 11. No special order for the consideration of bills shall be set except by a resolution reported from the Committee on Rules and adopted by a vote of a majority of the members present and voting. Debate on any special order calendar reported from the Rules Committee is limited to 2 hours, at which time the Speaker shall call for a vote on the pending substitutes or amendments, or both, if there be any, in their order, and then on the main motion. The Speaker shall endeavor to equitably apportion debate time among the various members or groups of members wishing to debate.

A resolution from the Committee on Rules setting a special order:

(1) May be offered at any time.

(2) May specify the time of day that a bill or resolution will be called for consideration.

(3) May, by a three-fifths majority of the members present and voting, limit the length of time that a bill will be considered before the Speaker shall call for a vote on the pending substitutes or amendments, or both, if there be any, in their order, and then on the main question.

(4) May be amended or substituted by a vote of a three-fifths majority of the members present and voting.

The Rules Committee may propose a consent calendar of bills. A list of bills for every proposed consent calendar shall be posted by placing notice on the notice boards by number and short title. Before the bills on the consent calendar are considered by the House, the notice shall be posted for at least two legislative days after the date the Rules Committee proposed the consent calendar. A list shall also be available to members electronically. A list of proposed consent calendar bills, listed by number and short title and the date they were posted shall be maintained in the Rules Committee office for review by members and the public. Bills on a consent calendar shall be removed from the consent calendar if eleven members sign their names on the Rules Committee list next to the short title of any bill that the members want removed. Any bill removed from a consent calendar shall be so removed at least one legislative day before the consent calendar is to be considered by the House. The House sponsor may remove a bill from the consent calendar at any time. The consent calendar shall be called in the order of business specified in Rule 6. Once bills have been placed on the consent calendar, they shall not be amended or substituted on the floor except by a committee substitute. Bills and amendments to bills on a consent calendar are not subject to debate.

Rule 12. Upon the introduction of a bill or resolution, the same shall be read by its title and referred by the Speaker to a standing committee. A bill or resolution offered by a member of the House shall not be accepted for introduction if its title exceeds two pages.

Rule 12.1. Official acknowledgement of commendation, condolence, congratulation, recognition, and sympathy may be done by certificates prepared by the Office of Member Services. Each member may receive 25 certificates per year, and not more than five copies of each certificate.

Resolutions of commendation, condolence, congratulation, recognition, and sympathy may be voted on en masse. House resolutions and House joint resolutions of commendation, condolence, congratulation, recognition, and sympathy will be limited to 10 per member per session, and copies of each resolution limited to five, with the exception of resolutions honoring individuals with the Law Enforcement Medal of Honor or those approved for consideration by the Rules Committee. House interim resolutions are limited to five per member per year, with copies limited to five per interim resolution. Members seeking more than five interim resolutions must get the approval of the Rules Committee chair or designee.

Rule 13. All bills shall be referred to a standing committee in the order in which they are introduced, unless the House otherwise directs.

Rule 14. A bill may be recommitted to the same or another standing committee and on recommitment the bill shall be open to amendment.

Rule 15. The total number of votes necessary for the passage of any bill or resolution in which the Constitution of the United States of America is to be amended or altered shall be no less than the number of votes necessary to amend the Constitution of the State of Alabama.

Rule 16. When a motion is made it shall be stated by the Speaker; or if it is in writing it shall be read aloud by the Clerk. A motion shall be reduced to writing if the Speaker or any member requests it.

Rule 17. After a motion is stated by the Speaker or read by the Clerk, it shall be deemed in possession of the House, but it may be withdrawn by the member who made the motion at any time before a vote is taken thereon.

Rule 18. When any motion, bill, or other matters are before the House, it shall not be in order to entertain a substitute motion for the passage of a bill, resolution, or other matters not before the House.

Rule 19. [Reserved]

Rule 20. When a House bill is in position for final passage, an identical Senate bill listed on the House calendar may be substituted by a majority vote.

Rule 21. [Reserved]

Rule 22. Any bill temporarily carried over and not brought back up for consideration during the same legislative day in which it was carried over shall resume its regular place on the calendar.

Rule 23. Any local bill may be contested by one or more member(s) filing a written statement of contest with the clerk.

Rule 24. A motion to adjourn shall always be in order, even in the absence of a quorum.

Rule 25. The previous question shall be in the following form, and shall be in writing: "I move the previous question."

If adopted by a vote of a three-fifths majority of the members present and voting, its effect shall be to cut off all debate and bring the House to a direct vote, first upon the pending substitutes or amendments, or both, if there be any, in their order, and then on the main question.

Unless otherwise specified in the motion, a motion "I move the previous question" shall be construed to apply to all pending amendments, pending substitutes, related matters, and the main question. The motion may be restricted to lesser application and may, when appropriately expressed, be applied to particular pending amendments, substitutes, and related matters.

If the call of the previous question is sustained, the opponents of the bill or resolution, or the pending amendment, substitute, or other matter, as the case may be, shall have the right to speak for not more than a cumulative total of ten minutes before the member having charge of the bill or resolution, or the pending amendment, substitute, or other matter, as the case may be, shall close the debate.

Rule 26. The following are classified as procedural motions and are not subject to substitute motions or debate: to adjourn, to lay on the table, to remove from the table, and the previous question. A motion to recess is not debatable. It is not subject to subsidiary motions, except to amend as to the length of recess. The motion to suspend the rules is not subject to substitute motions, but is subject to limited debate.

Rule 27. Debate on Reports from Committees on Conference shall be limited to one hour.

Rule 28. Any member may call for a division of the question when the sense of the proposition will admit it.

Rule 29. If the House is equally divided on a recorded vote, the question shall be lost.

Rule 30. When a vote has been announced by the Speaker--except on a previous question, or on a motion to lay on the table, or to remove from the table--it shall be in order for any member to move for a reconsideration thereof; provided, that the motion is made on the same day, or by filing a written motion with the Clerk within one hour after the House convenes on the succeeding day.

Such motion shall be considered forthwith after disposition of any business then before the House or any business taking precedence thereto.

When a motion for reconsideration is decided that decision shall not be reconsidered and no question shall be reconsidered more than once.

Rule 31. No member shall be permitted to explain his or her vote after a vote has been ordered upon any question except by unanimous consent.

Rule 32. When taking the yeas, nays, and abstentions, the electrical roll call system shall be used.

When the electrical roll call system is not operable, votes shall be viva voce and names of members shall be called alphabetically and each member shall answer from his or her seat.

When the House is ready to vote upon any question requiring a roll call, the Speaker shall announce: "The question is on (as the question may be). Those in favor shall vote 'yea', and those opposed, 'no'. The Clerk will unlock the machine and the members will vote."

Members may vote yea, no, or may indicate abstention by pressing the appropriate button on the vote-recording equipment.

The Clerk shall immediately start the vote-recording equipment and when the Speaker has determined that every member who wishes to has voted, the Clerk shall lock the machine and record the vote and the Speaker shall announce the vote to the House.

No member shall vote for another member, except by unanimous consent; nor shall any person not a member cast a vote for a member.

Rule 33. The members of the House shall vote by recorded vote on any motion to suspend the rules to consider a contested local bill.

Rule 34. [Reserved]

Rule 35. When any person sitting in the balcony attempts to attract attention of any one on the floor by word, deed, or otherwise, or when any person in the balcony makes gestures to attract attention from the floor and by his or her conduct commits any other action deemed by the Speaker to be detrimental to the orderly business of the House, such person shall be ousted from the balcony. Signs, banners, and posters shall not be displayed in the balcony and shall be confiscated by House Security.

Any member of the House who deems any person guilty of conduct described above may request the Speaker to oust such person from the balcony. If the Speaker does not agree with the member, the member shall be entitled to a vote.

Rule 36. The following provisions shall apply to resolutions that are provided for in Section C of Section 1 of Amendment 448 to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901:

(1) The Speaker shall determine the time allowed for debate before calling for a vote.

(2) If the resolution receives the three-fifths majority of the members present and voting required by the Constitution of the State of Alabama, the Clerk shall call the attached bill.

(3) If the resolution is not adopted, the House shall proceed with other business.

(4) Each resolution is subject to one motion for reconsideration.

Rule 37. Every bill the principal purpose of which is to make an appropriation from state revenue shall be referred to either the standing Ways and Means Education Committee or Ways and Means General Fund Committee, as appropriate, before being placed on the calendar.

Rule 38. Any bill that makes an appropriation from state revenue shall be treated as a general bill.

Rule 39. Any bill providing for or dealing with pari-mutuel betting, gambling, or games of chance, any bill providing for or dealing with an environmental issue, and any bill providing for or dealing with inter-county annexation shall also be treated as a general bill. Further, a local bill creating a new pari-mutuel betting or gambling facility, or affecting an existing facility, shall first be assigned to the appropriate local legislation committee, and if receiving a favorable report from the committee, shall then be assigned to an appropriate standing committee.

Rule 40. Any bill which adds a group or individual to an existing state retirement fund and which allows members of the group or the individual to purchase credit for previous service or any bill which allows a current member of any state retirement fund to purchase credit for previous service shall not be considered on third reading unless the bill requires the individual or group to pay the total cost (employer and employee costs as determined by the actuary for the retirement fund) for the previous service purchased.

The Legislative Fiscal Office shall notify the Clerk, before third reading, of any bills that are covered by this rule.