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Vermont Representatives Get Training on Legislative Etiquette

Vermont House members took a pause from usual deliberations on Tuesday for a session on proper decorum in the chamber.

House members will soon debate some divisive bills. Following an evening debate two weeks ago on the budget marked by unorthodox debating tactics, House leaders agreed to a session Tuesday to review the rules of etiquette and proper debating practice.

Vermont Speaker of the House Democrat Shap Smith explains that the decorum sessions are conducted once or twice a year.

Smith felt it was now an appropriate time for the session, given pending bills that the House will soon review.

House Minority Leader Republican Don Turner agreed to suspend regular deliberations for the review of etiquette.

The afternoon session included questions from the floor.

The questions were directed to First Assistant Clerk of the House Bill MaGill, who explains that the rules are meant to keep personalities out of debates.

Magill says most of the rules are based on common sense, although some are ceremonial.

Minority Leader Turner expects the volatility of debate to intensify as the session moves forward.

Audio from the decorum session is courtesy of Vermont Public Radio’s live stream from the Statehouse.