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QUORUM.— No subject of parliamentary law has attracted such wide attention in recent years as that of quorum, and the various rulings thereon. Section 10 of article 3 of the Constitution of the State of New York provides that a majority of each house shall constitute a quorum to do business, and section 20 of the same article provides that all bills appropriating the public moneys or property for local or private purposes shall receive the assent of two-thirds of all the members elected, and section 25 of the same article further provides that on the final passage, in either house of the Legislature, of any act which imposes, continues or revives a tax, or creates a debt or charge, or makes, continues or revives any appropriation of public or trust money or property, or releases, discharges or commutes any claim or demand of the State, the question shall be taken by yeas and nays, which shall be duly entered upon the journals, and three-fifths of all the members elected to either house shall, in all such cases, be necessary to constitute a quorum therein.

It was under the provisions of section 25 that Lieut.Governor Hill held (Senate Journal, 1883, p. 360) that the constitutional requirements therein set forth were entirely satisfied by the presence of members even if they did not vote, and accordingly he directed the Clerk of the Senate to put down the names of certain Senators as present and not voting, and in so ruling the Chair stated “The parliamentary question presented is whether this bill has been duly passed. It has received the votes of a majority of all the Senators elected to the Senate. It has received all the affirmative votes which the Constitution requires to pass such a bill. The section does not provide that three-fifths of all the Senators elected shall vote for the bill or that such a number shall vote at all upon the bill, but simply that such a number shall be present in order to constitute a quorum. The presence or absence of Senators is a physical fact known to the President and Clerk. It requires only the exercise of their senses to determine the question. If a Senator is in fact present, his refusal to vote, which is a violation of his duty, does not make him absent in a parliamentary sense. He can be counted by the President and Clerk as one of three-fifths necessary to constitute a quorum. The President of the Senate is required to certify as to the passage of all bills, and to certify the fact whether they are passed by the required number and with a constitutional quorum present. He may obtain that information as to the number of Senators who are present either from his own observation or from the tally list if that shows it, or from the journal. He is bound to know and certify whether there was present the requisite quorum, and as his certificate is the evidence of such fact, the question presented is peculiarly in his own province.”

The substance of this ruling was made by Mr. Speaker Reed in the Fifty-first Congress, and was later declared constitutional by the United States Supreme Court in the case of the United States v. Ballin, 114 U. S. Sup. Ct. Rep. I. These rulings and decisions were followed by Lieut.-Gors. Jones, Sheehan and Saxton, and are now accepted without question. Senate Rule 33 expressly provides this method of ascertaining a quorum,

A quorum is presumed to be present, if no member raises the question. The method of securing a quorum is fully set forth under the heading “ Call of the House."

Communication from the Governor may be received although a quorum is not present.

Lt.-Gov. Woodruff, Senate Journal, 1897, Vol. 1,

p. 382. Rule 1, p. 31. But see Constitution,

art. 3, sec. Io. A quorum is not necessary in order to take a recess.

Lt.-Gov. Woodruff, Senate Journal, 1897, Vol. 1,

[. 115. A call of Senate may be ordered at any time but such call shall not be in order after the third reading of a bill has been completed; nor after the motion to close debate has been ordered pursuant to Rule 33, unless it shall appear by actual count by the President that a quorum is not present.

Lt.-Gov. Jones, Senate Journal, 1891, p. 381 ;

Rule 47. Senators present and not voting may be counted present for the purpose of constituting a quorum.

Lt.-Gov. Jones, 1891, p. 854; Rule 33. RECESS.-A quorum is not necessary in order to take

a recess.

Lt.-Gov. Woodruff, Senate Journal, 1897, Vol. 1,

p. 115. - When not in order.- Pending a motion to suspend the rules, so as to take an immediate vote on a proposition, a motion for a recess is not in order.

Barclay's Digest, p. 207.

Pending a call of the house a motion for recess is not in order.

RecoNSIDERATION.--The right to move a.-Where a vote is not taken by ayes and nays, and consequently no record made of each member's vote, it is the wellsettled practice to permit any member to move a reconsideration.

-When in order.— It is in order at any time, even when a member is on the floor, or the highest privileged question is pending, on the same or succeeding day, to move a reconsideration, and have it entered, but it cannot be taken up and considered while another question is before the house.

- If papers are out of the house. A motion to reconsider, if made in time, may be entertained, notwithstanding the papers connected with the original proposition have gone out of the possession of the house. .

It is not in order to move a reconsideration of a vote sustaining a decision of the chair, after subsequent action has resulted from such decision which it is impossible for the house to reverse.

Where a motion to reconsider has been once put and decided, it is not in order to repeat the motion.

A motion to reconsider a vote laying a motion to reconsider on the table, is not in order.

Barclay's Digest, p. 198.

Roberts, p. 62. Motion to reconsider can be made by any member regardless of how he voted upon the question sought to be reconsidered.

Speaker O'Grady, Assembly Journal, 1897, p. 2789.


The Senate Rules provide that a majority of all the Senators elected shall be required to reconsider the vote on the final passage of a bill appropriating public moneys or property, or creating, continuing, altering or renewing any body politic or corporate, but all other bills which may have been lost may be reconsidered by a majority of the Senators present and voting.

Rule 23, Clerk's Manual, 1906, p. 610.

- Cannot reconsider:
A motion to lay on the table.
A motion to take from the table.
A motion to adjourn.

Warrington, p. 45.

A motion to suspend the rules for a particular purpose, when lost cannot be reconsidered.

Cushing, p. 487.

Held that such motion could be reconsidered.

Lt.-Gov. Saxton, Senate Journal, 1896, p. 551.
Lt.-Gov. Woodruff, Senate Journal, 1902.

A motion for the previous question.

Assembly Rules, Rule, No. 34.

A motion to reconsider is not amendable.

Previous question may be moved to suppress any other original motion, but not on an amendment, on any other merely subsidiary motion, as to commit or postpone.

Cushing, p. 556.


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