Senate General Rules of Order and Procedure



 

RULE 1.

(a) The President shall take his/her chair at the hour to which the Senate has been previously adjourned, and shall serve as Presiding Officer. If a quorum appears to be present, the Presiding Officer shall call the Senate to order and call for a prayer to be delivered by the Chaplain of the Day. If a quorum does not appear to be present, the Presiding Officer may delay the call to order for a reasonable time until a quorum does appear to be present.

(b) The Presiding Officer shall then call for recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America.

(c) In the absence of the President, the President Pro Tempore shall serve as Presiding Officer. When the President returns, he/she shall assume the duties of Presiding Officer. In the absence of both President and President Pro Tempore, the Senate Majority Leader shall serve as Presiding Officer. In the absence of the President, President Pro Tempore, and the Senate Majority Leader, the Chairperson of the committee as named in order in Senate Rule 48 shall perform this duty until the President or the President Pro Tempore returns.

(d) The Presiding Officer shall call the Senate to order and order the roll to be called.

(e) If there is a quorum present, the previous day's journal shall be read, unless dispensed with on motion, which shall be decided by majority vote without debate. The Presiding Officer shall then entertain a motion to excuse absent members, which shall be decided by majority vote without debate. The Senate shall then proceed with the transaction of its business. If no quorum is present, a lesser number may adjourn from day to day or compel the attendance of absent members, as provided in Rule 37.

RULE 2.

Unless it is otherwise specifically provided for, the Senate shall meet at ten o'clock a.m., except on Mondays, when the Senate shall convene at twelve o'clock noon. The Senate shall meet at twelve o'clock noon on the first day of any Organizational, Special, or Regular Session unless otherwise provided for.

RULE 3.

When the question of a quorum has been requested, after the expiration of ten minutes, the roll shall be called immediately and, if the absence of a quorum shall be determined, then the Senate shall stand in adjournment until the following calendar day unless otherwise provided for previously by resolution or motion. No more than one quorum call will be recognized per each two-hour period.

RULE 4.

No person shall be admitted to the floor of the Senate Chamber while the Senate is in session except current members of the Legislature; former members of the Legislature; former Governors or Lieutenant Governors, except registered lobbyists; the officers and employees of the two houses; up to three employees of the President of the Senate; up to three employees of the President Pro Tempore; the Governor and up to two of his or her employees; representatives of the press; and the Directors and employees of the Legislative Reference Service and the Legislative Fiscal Office. The Director of the Office of Examiners of Public Accounts, the Director of the Alabama Law Institute, the legal counsel for the Rules Committee Chairman, and one employee of the majority caucus and two employees of the minority caucus shall also be admitted to the floor in aid of the Senate in its work. Anyone admitted to the floor of the Senate Chamber shall be placed by the Secretary of the Senate. The Secretary shall ensurethat the presence of non-members shall not impede the business of the Senate. On the first legislative day of any Regular, Special, or Organizational Session, the families of the members of the Senate shall have the privileges of the floor, but only for that specific legislative day. This rule shall be enforced by the Secretary of the Senate without such enforcement being suggested or requested by a member of the Senate.

RULE 5.

The Presiding Officer of the Senate shall introduce visitors in the Senate gallery. Such introductions shall be made at the written request of any Senator, but only at such time as will not interrupt or disturb the orderly transaction of the business of the Senate. Persons in the Senate Gallery shall, at all times, conduct themselves so as not to disturb or distract the Senate. No signs or placards of any type shall be allowed into the Senate Gallery. When any person in the gallery makes gestures to attract attention from the floor and by his or her conduct commits any other action deemed by the Presiding Officer or the Secretary of the Senate to be detrimental to the orderly business of the Senate, such person shall be warned or ousted from the gallery, at the direction of the Presiding Officer or the Secretary.

RULE 6.

No person shall be allowed to lobby in the Senate Chamber while the Senate is in session. In the event a lobbied senator files a written complaint with the Secretary of the Senate stating that a former member/lobbyist has lobbied him/her while on the floor of the Senate, the Secretary shall notify the former member/lobbyist of the complaint. In the event a second written complaint is filed by a member against a former member/lobbyist, said former member/lobbyist's floor privileges shall be automatically suspended for twelve months, and the Secretary shall so notify the former member/lobbyist and the Senate.

RULE 7.

No motion shall be deemed in order to admit any person whomsoever, or any group, within the doors of the Senate Chamber while the Senate is in session, to present any petition, memorial, or address, or to have any such petition, memorial, or address read, or for any Senator or Senators to invite any individual or group into the Senate Chamber for the purpose of honoring such group with a resolution or by any other manner, including for the purpose of the demonstration of a performing art. On any legislative day, the Senate Chamber shall be open one hour prior to the convening of the Senate, exclusively and for no other purpose than for Senators to bring individuals or groups into the Chamber for the purpose of honoring such individuals or group with a resolution or by any other manner, or for the purpose of the demonstration of a performing art.

RULE 8.

(a) After the previous day's journal has been read or dispensed with, the regular order of transacting business for the Senate shall be:

1st, Introduction of bills;

2nd, House and Executive messages;

3rd, Reports from standing committees;

4th, Reports from select committees;

5th, Motions and resolutions;

6th, Uncontested local bills;

7th, Bills on third reading.

(b) Signing of bills may be executed throughout any legislative day.

RULE 9.

(a) The regular order of business shall not be set aside except by a majority vote of the Senate, upon a resolution reported by the Committee on Rules, following a meeting of the Rules Committee in which a majority of its Members are recorded as voting in the affirmative to submit such resolution before the Senate. All items on such proposed Special Order Calendar shall be posted by the Rules Committee twenty-four hours prior to said resolution being offered, unless a majority of the Rules Committee votes to set this provision aside. This notice shall not apply during Special Sessions. Any amendment or substitute to a Rules Committee report of a Special Order Calendar shall prevail only with a concurrence of not less than twenty-one affirmative votes. The total debate prior to the voting of its adoption shall not exceed twenty (20) minutes. The adoption of any Special Order Calendar shall be by a majority on a recorded vote.

(b) A Special Order Calendar may not be amended after adoption and items must be called in the order listed, but a Special Order Calendar may be superseded by a new Special Order Calendar. Business not on the Special Order Calendar may be taken up by unanimous consent.

(c) A House bill on the Senate Regular Order Calendar may be substituted for an identical Senate bill on a Special Order Calendar in a single motion carrying over the Senate bill and calling the House bill with unanimous consent. If necessary, the Senate bill may first be amended or substituted in order to make it identical to the House bill.

RULE 10. The assignment of Executive messages shall be made by the President Pro Tempore, or his/her designee. The referral of House messages containing House bills passed by the House of Representatives shall be made by the President Pro Tempore, or his/her designee. Such bills shall be read in the same manner as Senate bills. At the request of any member, the full title of a House bill or joint resolution may be read.

RULE 11. (a) No bills other than local bills, advertised or otherwise, shall be introduced in the Senate during a Regular Session after the Senate adjourns on the 24th legislative day.

(b) On motion, as provided in subsection (c), and by majority vote, a Senate bill may be recommitted by the President to the same or a different Standing Committee for further consideration at the discretion of the President, subject to appeal, at any time after its initial referral. On motion, as provided in subsection (c), and by majority vote, a House bill may be recommitted by the President Pro Tempore to the same or a different Standing Committee for further reconsideration at any time after its initial referral.

(c) Before a bill receives its second reading, only the committee chairman to which the bill was originally referred may move to recommit a bill. Thereafter, only the committee chairman to which the bill was originally referred, the President Pro Tempore, or the sponsor of the bill, may move to recommit a bill.

(d) On the 24th legislative day bills may be introduced at any time and will be processed in the same manner as bills introduced under a unanimous consent order that allows bills to be introduced any time during the day.

RULE 12. The unfinished business in which the Senate was engaged at the last preceding adjournment shall be placed at the top of the Regular Order Calendar for the next legislative day.

RULE 13. When Sunset Bills are the order of business, pursuant to Section 41-20-10 of the Code of Alabama 1975, the provisions of which are incorporated herein by reference, a bill under consideration may be carried over on motion by the President Pro Tempore or his or her designee, without debate, by a three-fifths roll call vote. If no bill is pending, on motion by the President Pro Tempore or his or her designee, and without debate, the Senate may set aside the Sunset Bills and consider other business by a three-fifths roll call vote. While other business is being considered, the usual rules of the Senate apply to such business. Once the other business is disposed of, Sunset Bills again becomes the pending business.

RULE 14.

[Reserved]

RULE 15. When reports of standing committees are in order, the chair of the committee whose report is called, or the President Pro Tempore, shall be entitled to the floor. On second reading, bills shall be read by the bill number, the sponsor, and the first line of the title, but any member may request that the title be read at length.

RULE 16.

(a) Every motion shall be reduced to writing upon request of any Senator, but a separate request must be made for each motion. Written motions shall be delivered to the Secretary at the desk and read before the same shall be debated.

(b) The requests set out below may be made by any member, except as otherwise provided in the rules. When such requests are in order, they shall be granted by the Presiding Officer without debate:

1. Request for reading at length,

2. Request for a roll call vote (To be granted, the request must be joined by at least two other members, by show of hands),

3. Request that a motion be reduced to writing,

4. Request for a question of a quorum,

5. Request for a division of a question.

RULE 17.

A brief statement of the contents of any memorial or petition to the Senate may be made by the introducer before it is received, but such statement shall not exceed five minutes in duration. Such statements are not subject to debate.

RULE 18.

(a) When a question is under debate, no motion shall be received except a motion:

1. to adjourn,

2. to adjourn to a day certain,

3. to recess,

4. to table,

5. to carry over,

6. to carry over to the call of the chair,

7. to recommit,

8. to substitute, or

9. to amend,

which several motions shall have precedence in the order they stand arranged. The motions to adjourn, to adjourn to a day certain, to recess, to table, and to carry over, shall always be in order, unless the time for debate on the pending question has expired, and such motions shall be decided without debate. Approval of a motion to carry over to the call of the chair is not subject to debate and requires unanimous consent of the Senate.

(b) When a bill or resolution is called for final passage, committee amendments or substitutes must be disposed of before floor amendments or substitutes may be considered. Committee amendments or substitutes are not open for amendment until adopted.

(c) To the extent necessary, floor amendments shall be read aloud so the Secretary can determine if the proposed amendment is in proper form. If the Secretary determines that the amendment is not in proper form, the Presiding Officer shall rule it out of order, and it shall not be considered. Committee amendments need not be read aloud.

(d) A bill carried over or carried over to the call of the chair shall be returned to the Regular Order Calendar, but at the discretion of the Presiding Officer, a bill carried over to the call of the chair may be called by the Presiding Officer on motion by the President Pro Tempore, the bill sponsor, or the bill manager at any time when other business is not pending.

RULE 19.

The motion to table an amendment or substitute shall not carry with it the original bill, resolution, or proposition.

RULE 20.

(a) The Committee on Rules may report a special rule or petition that debate on any measure shall cease at a certain hour and a vote be taken on the measure. The consideration of such special rule or petition shall not exceed twenty minutes, when a vote shall be taken thereon; and if three-fifths of the members elected shall vote to limit debate, then said rule or petition shall have been adopted by the Senate. However, consideration of a special rule or petition dealing with only the Education Budget and/or the General Fund Budget and their related appropriation bills and/or a bill to redistrict the Alabama Legislature, State Board of Education Districts, and/or Alabama Congressional Districts shall only require 18 affirmative votes to adopt such special rule or petition from the Senate Rules Committee to limit debate.

(b) In addition to the procedure set out in (a) above, a petition signed by twenty-one or more Senators to the effect that debate on a pending measure shall cease at a certain hour and a vote be taken on the measure filed with the Secretary or the designee of the Secretary while the Senate is in session, shall have the same effect as a report of the Committee on Rules regarding debate. Filing such petition shall be considered a motion to adopt the petition and to cut off debate at the time stated in the petition. The consideration of such petition shall not exceed twenty minutes, when a vote shall be taken thereon; and if three-fifths of the members elected shall vote to limit debate, then said petition shall have been adopted by the Senate. However, consideration of a petition dealing with only the Education Budget and/or the General Fund Budget and their related appropriation bills and/or a bill to redistrict the Alabama Legislature, State Board of Education Districts, and/or Alabama Congressional Districts shall only require eighteen (18) affirmative votes to adopt such petition to limit debate.

(c) After a special rule or petition to limit debate has been adopted under (a) or (b) above, no motion or request, except a request for reading at length, shall be in order. Votes shall take place immediately at the time specified in the petition on any pending amendments, substitutes, and final passage.

RULE 21.

House messages, executive messages, and conference reports may be called, and immediately handled or referred, at any stage of business by the President Pro Tempore, or in his/her absence, the Majority Leader or any member authorized in writing by the President Pro Tempore, except while the yeas and nays are being called, or during consideration of sunset bills. A motion to accede to a House request for conference is not debatable. House amendments to Senate bills, and conference reports, may be read at the request of any Senator, unless a copy of the amendment or conference report is made available to all Senators for not less than 30 minutes prior to the vote on the motion to adopt. The 30-minute period shall be subject to a motion to dispense by majority vote without debate.

RULE 22.

(a) The Presiding Officer shall announce when a roll call vote is to be taken. The Secretary shall ring the quorum bell immediately prior to commencement of the roll being called. No discussion or debate shall be allowed while a vote is being taken. Those previously engaged in debate, either for or against a proposition or debatable motion, and any and all other members, shall upon announcement of such impending vote, immediately retire from the well of the Senate. Members must be in the Senate Chamber in order to announce their vote and may make such announcement at any place in the Chamber, other than the well of the Senate.

(b) When the yeas and nays shall be called for by three or more Senators, the Presiding Officer shall instruct the Secretary to call the roll on the question before the Senate. No member shall be permitted to vote after the decision is announced by the Presiding Officer. In taking the yeas and nays, and upon the call of the Senate, the names of the Senators shall be called alphabetically.

RULE 23.

(a) Every Senate bill on first reading shall be referred to a standing committee by the President, or his/her designee. The Secretary shall read the bill by the bill number, the sponsor, and the first line of the title, but any member may request that the title be read at length.

(b) A bill may be withdrawn by the sponsor if it has been filed with the Secretary, but has not received first reading.

RULE 24.

When the reading of any paper (not including bills, resolutions, conference reports, House and executive messages and the like) is requested by a member and the reading of same is objected to by a member, the question shall be determined by a vote of the Senate without debate.

RULE 25.

If the question in debate contains several points, each of which is able to stand on its own as determined by the Presiding Officer, any member may call for a division. It shall not be in order, however, to move for a division of the question on a motion to strike out and insert.

RULE 26.

The rejection of a motion to strike out and insert one proposition shall not prevent a motion to strike out and insert a different proposition; nor shall a subsequent motion simply to strike out prevent a subsequent motion to strike out and insert, provided however, the Presiding Officer may rule out of order any motion to strike out and insert which he/she judges to be solely dilatory.

RULE 27.

In filling blanks, the largest sum and longest times shall be put first.

RULE 28.

(a) When a roll call vote has been taken on any question, except those set out in (b) below, it shall be in order for any Senator of the prevailing side to move for the reconsideration thereof. But no motion for the reconsideration of any vote shall be in order after the bill, resolution, message, report, amendment, or motion upon which the vote was taken shall have gone out of the possession of the Senate. Nor shall any motion for reconsideration be in order unless it is made on the same day on which the vote was taken, or by twelve o'clock p.m. the next legislative day, or one hour after the Senate convenes, if after twelve o'clock p.m. The motion shall be decided by majority vote without debate.

(b) It shall not be in order to move to reconsider the vote to:

1. recess,

2. adjourn,

3. adjourn to a day certain,

4. table,

5. excuse absent Senators,

6. dispense with the reading of the previous day's Journal,

7. confirm,

8. adopt a Special Order Calendar,

9. carry over,

10. carry over to the call of the chair,

11. adopt a Budget Isolation Resolution,

12. adopt a petition for cloture, or

13. reconsider.

(c) If a motion to reconsider is approved, the matter to be reconsidered becomes the pending business, the sponsor is entitled to the floor, and the question is open for debate, amendment, or substitution like any matter under consideration for final passage.

(d) When a majority of those members present vote in the affirmative on the question, but the proposition fails because it is one requiring more than a majority for adoption or passage, any member may move for reconsideration.

RULE 29.

Resolutions proposing amendments to the Constitution or requiring the formal approval or signature of the President shall be treated in all respects in the introduction and form of proceedings thereon as bills. Resolutions granting money out of funds appropriated for the Legislature must be introduced and reported by the Rules Committee. The provisions of this rule may be waived by unanimous consent two hours after the motion to waive is offered.

RULE 30.

All motions to go into executive session shall be decided without debate. Executive sessions shall be held with closed doors, and the doorkeepers shall clear the press rooms and galleries of all persons except Members, the President of the Senate and his or her advisor, and necessary employees of the Senate, as determined by the Secretary. The Secretary shall turn off the broadcast feed from the Senate Chamber immediately after the Senate decides to go into Executive Session.

RULE 31.

Executive messages shall be considered with open doors unless it is otherwise requested in the message or otherwise ordered by a majority vote of the Senate.

RULE 32.

All nominations and appointments shall be referred to, and be reported from the Committee on Confirmations before consideration by the entire Senate. A rejection by the Committee on Confirmations of any nomination or appointment shall be considered a rejection by the entire Senate. If the Senate rejects a nomination or appointment, the Secretary of the Senate shall forward the rejection to the appointing authority and request a new nominee to be submitted, or, in the event that the pertinent statute permits, the Senate may select a substitute appointment. Confirmation messages are not subject to a motion to recommit, but the nomination may be carried over.

RULE 33.

The final question upon every bill or resolution requiring three readings prior to passage shall be put in this form: "The question is final passage of the bill (or resolution)." At the conclusion of the debate on any such bill or resolution, and prior to the start of the roll call, any member may request that the bill (or resolution) be read at length. The reading may be suspended or waived by unanimous consent requested by any member. No amendment shall be received for discussion after the third reading of any bill, resolution, constitutional amendment, or motion, except by a suspension of the rules, before the final passage of any such bill, resolution, constitutional amendment, or motion, to move its recommitment, and if such recommitment takes place and an amendment is reported by the committee, the bill, resolution, constitutional amendment, or motion shall be again read a second time, and then the aforesaid question shall be put.

RULE 34.

(a) All amended bills shall be correctly engrossed prior to transmittal to the House of Representatives.

(b) During a Regular Session, no bill that has originated in the Senate shall be sent to the House of Representatives for its first reading in the House after the Senate adjourns on the 26th legislative day.

RULE 35.

(a) No motion to alter, modify, or amend any rule or any part thereof shall be in order except on two legislative days' notice in writing, which notice shall specify precisely the rule or part thereof proposed to be suspended, modified, or amended. Before any vote shall be taken on such motion, it shall be first referred to the Committee on Rules, and said committee must report favorably with a majority of the membership thereof voting in the affirmative, before such rule change can be considered by the Senate. Any change or alteration of the rules shall require the affirmation of three-fifths of the elected members of the Senate by roll call vote and may not be accomplished by suspension of the rules.

(b) Except as otherwise provided in these rules, any rule may be suspended by the unanimous consent of the Senate. Any Senator objecting to a suspension of the rules will be identified by name and upon request of any other Senator, the name of any objecting Senator shall be entered into the record. Any action that may be taken by voice vote may be taken by unanimous consent of the Senate.

(c) Motions to suspend the Rules shall be decided without debate.

RULE 36.

During the period between the end of the Regular Session and the convening of the next Regular Session, or, in the first year of a quadrennium, between the Organizational Session and the Regular Session, members may deliver bills to the Secretary of the Senate, which shall be known as "pre-filing." Such bills shall be numbered by the Secretary in the order of receipt and otherwise processed for introduction when the Regular Session has been convened. Pre-filed bills shall be assigned by the President, or his/her designee, with the concurrence of the President Pro Tempore, or his/her designee, to a standing committee for study and shall be formally referred to the same committee upon commencement of the Regular Session; provided, however, that no bill shall be pre-filed under this rule after the commencement of the last Regular Session of the Legislature in any quadrennium and before the Organizational Session following the general election.