Chapter 9



Each house of the Hawaii Legislature adopts the rules of procedure under which it operates. The rules, for the most part, are based on traditional procedures for the orderly conduct of business and for the protection of a member's rights. When a particular parliamentary situation is not covered by any rule, the Senate and the House of Representatives rely on Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedures. (House Rule 59; Senate Rule 86)

Decisions; Appeals

The presiding officers of each house decide on motions and questions raised before their respective houses. No motion may be received and considered by any house until it is seconded. A question of order may be raised at any point in the proceedings, except during a roll call. After a decision by the chair on any question of order, it may be appealed to the members. If an appeal of a decision of the chair is laid on the table, the ruling of the presiding officer is sustained. A decision of the chair can be set aside by a vote of the majority of members. (House Rule 26; Senate Rule 68)

Obtaining the Floor

To obtain the floor for any purpose, a member must rise and address the presiding officer, "Mr. President" in the Senate and "Mr. Speaker" in the House. After being recognized by the chair, the member may then proceed with the member's remarks, questions, or motion. A member who has the floor may hold it, subject to the rules of debate, until the member yields the floor, either by sitting down or by permitting another member to speak. (House Rule 27.4; Senate Rule 74) In the Senate, no member may speak more than twice in a debate on any subject unless the member is the maker of the motion before the body. The senator making the motion before the body may close the debate after all members wishing to speak have been heard. (Senate Rule 69) The House imposes a similar restriction on the number of times a member may speak and, in addition, imposes a time limit on any member speaking on a question before the body. In the House, however, when a member yields the floor to the member addressing the question before the House, the member's time continues, unless the member yields to allow a specific question to be asked. (House Rule 50.2)

Question of Personal Privilege, Point of Order, Request for Information, and Call for a Division of the House

These questions require immediate consideration and are always in order. Unlike regular motions, they do not require seconds and may occur at any point during the proceedings.

When the rights and privilege or the comfort and convenience of a member of the Legislature are challenged or questioned, that member may rise and say, "I rise to a question of personal privilege" or, as is usually stated in the House, "I rise on a point of personal privilege". The presiding officer then directs the member to state the question or point of personal privilege, after which the presiding officer renders a decision on the question. Once the question is settled, the proceedings continue at the point where they were interrupted.

When any irregularity or noncompliance with established parliamentary procedure occurs, a member may rise and say, "I rise to a point of order". The presiding officer then interrupts the proceedings; and, if a member is speaking, the member immediately yields the floor. The presiding officer then directs the questioning member to state the point of order. Such statement should be brief and concise and cite the parliamentary authority for the point. The presiding officer considers the member's statement and renders a decision which may be appealed to the legislative body.

When a member desires information from another member who is speaking, the member may rise and say, "I rise for information". The presiding officer then asks the speaker if the speaker will yield to a question. If the speaker is willing, then the inquiring member may proceed to state the member's question to the presiding officer. In the House of Representatives, a member may say, for example, "I would like to inquire as to whether the representative from the fifth district would yield to a question". (Parliamentary rules require that, during debate, members refrain from referring to another member by name, and to instead describe the member by the member's seat in the house, or as the member who spoke last, or by some other equivalent expression.)

When the outcome of a voice vote is questionable, any member may rise and say, "I call for division of the house". The presiding officer then puts the question once more, and a count of ayes and noes is taken by a rising vote. In a rising vote, those voting in the affirmative rise from their seats and remain standing until counted. The negative vote is tallied in the same way.


Motions are proposals for action requiring a decision by the legislative body. Any member, excluding the presiding officer, may make a motion if the member has been recognized by the presiding officer. Motions are usually made orally and must be seconded before they can be considered. Only the following motions, listed in their order of precedence in each house, are relative to any question under discussion: (House Rule 45; Senate Rule 63)

         House                         Senate 
     1.  To lay on the table;.         To lay on the table; 
     2.  To postpone to a certain time To postpone to a certain time 
     3.  To commit;                    To postpone indefinitely; 
     4.  To amend; and                 To commit; and 
     5.  To postpone indefinitely.     To amend.

The procedures in Mason's Manual governing motions apply in the House and the Senate, if not inconsistent with their rules. (House Rule 59; Senate Rule 86)

Reconsideration of Drafts to a Bill After Deadlines

The question arises from time to time concerning the passage of a bill which has been amended by a house of the Legislature after it is too late to send the amended bill back to the originating house for agreement to the bill as amended. Generally, this question arises after adoption of the draft to the bill when the bill passes second reading. In order for the Legislature to pass such a bill, the house having control of the bill must reconsider its prior action regarding the bill and return the bill to the form in which it was received from the originating house. Therefore, the house concerned must reconsider the reading and the adoption of the draft to that bill so that the situation reverts to the point where the draft never existed. After reconsideration, that house then may pass the bill on second and third readings in the form in which it was received. (See, H.B. No. 1971, H.D. 1, Regular Session of 1982)

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