1989-2000 Mason’s Manual Revision Commission
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) asked the American Society of Legislative Clerks and Secretaries (ASLCS) to assist with the revisions of Mason’s Manual of Legislative Procedure. In 1984, the American Society of Legislative Clerks and Secretaries (ASLCS) created the Mason’s Manual Revision Commission (the Commission’s original name). The Revision Commission was a continuous body; members served until resignation or removal in order to provide consistency and continuity to the revision process.
ASLCS President Betty King, Secretary of the Texas Senate, appointed the first Revision Commission members in 1985.
Officers and Members
The first Revision Commission chair was Patrick Flahaven, and Greg Gray was the Commission’s first vice chair. In September 1992, the Revision Commission elected new officers—Betty King was elected as the chair, Patrick O’Donnell as the vice chair, and Greg Gray as the associate vice chair.
The original members of the Revision Commission were:
The Revision Commission membership fell to 14 members upon the resignations of two members—William Kandler and Kenneth Wright—in late 1986. The Revision Commission remained at 14 members until October 1991, when McDowell Lee, Secretary of the Alabama Senate, was appointed to fill one of the vacancies.
- Joe Brown, Secretary of the Florida Senate
- Edward Burdick, Chief Clerk of the Minnesota House
- Grace Collins, Principal Clerk of the North Carolina House
- Mark R. Corrigan, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Senate
- Patrick Flahaven, Secretary of the Minnesota Senate
- Gregory Gray, Clerk of the West Virginia House
- William Kandler, Secretary of the Michigan Senate
- Betty King, Secretary of the Texas Senate
- Mouryne Landing, Chief Clerk of the Nevada Assembly
- Clyde W. McCullough, Jr., Chief Clerk of the Tennessee Senate
- Patrick O’Donnell, Clerk of the Nebraska Legislature
- John B. Phelps, Clerk of the Florida House
- Robert Picher, Clerk of the Vermont House
- Jane Richards, Chief Clerk of the Arizona House
- Donald J. Schneider, Chief Clerk of the Wisconsin Senate
- Kenneth Wright, Secretary of the Illinois Senate
Discussions to increase the size of the Revision Commission occurred during early to mid-1992. In September 1992, during the ASLCS Professional Development Seminar in Albany, New York, the Revision Commission added three members—Stephen Arias, Chief Clerk of the New Mexico House; Ramona Kenady, Chief Clerk of the Oregon House; and Alfred Speer, Clerk of the Louisiana House, raising its membership to 18.
In April 1993, Hogan Brown, Assistant Clerk of the South Carolina Senate, and Larry Warden, Clerk of the Oklahoma House, were appointed to replace Grace Collins and Jane Richards. In November 1993, Janet Jones, Chief Clerk of the Kansas House, and Carole Peterson, Chief Clerk of the Utah House, were appointed to replace Joe Brown and Bob Picher.
The size of the Commission remained at 18 until October 1994. Members were having difficulty attending meetings, so it was decided to add two alternate members who could fill in for absent members. The alternates appointed were Joseph Mayo, Clerk of the Maine House, and Susan Schaar, Clerk of the Virginia Senate. About the same time, special recognition was given to Karen Wadsworth, Clerk of the New Hampshire House, who had been attending Commission meetings of her own accord; she was given “associate” status.
In October 1995, Joseph Mayo, who had been an alternate member, and Janice Thomas, Secretary of the Nevada Senate, were appointed as members to replace Mouryne Landing and Carole Peterson. Denise Weeks, Principal Clerk of the North Carolina House, was named as an alternate member.
After the 2000 edition was published, there was a serious discussion about the Commission and its future. During the 2001 NCSL Annual Meeting in San Antonio, the Revision Commission met and adopted a proposed standing order, which it submitted to the ASLCS Executive Committee. On August 14, 2001, the ASLCS Executive Committee adopted an amended version of the standing order. The new standing order dissolved the Revision Commission, effective August 15, 2001.
Work of the Revision Commission
The Mason’s Manual Revision Commission was responsible for the 1989 and 2000 editions of Mason’s Manual.
The Revision Commission originally thought that its first revision would take a year or less, so it began going through the 1979 edition section by section. The Commission soon realized that significant changes were needed. Subcommittees were created and assigned sections of the book to review. The full Commission voted on the text changes recommended by each subcommittee. The Commission also conducted an exhaustive search for new cases that might apply to legislative procedure and updated those that Paul Mason had cited.
Some of the major changes made to the 1979 edition of Mason’s Manual to create the 1989 edition included the following.
- Earlier editions of the manual included rules for state and local legislative bodies, administrative bodies and private associations. The Revision Commission decided that the manual should focus on state legislative procedures, so it deleted almost all provisions applicable to administrative and local legislative bodies and private associations. Some provisions were retained but adapted for state legislatures.
- The Revision Commission recognized the evolving relationship between the legislative and executive branches of state government. Provisions were added that describe legislative authority to delegate rule-making power to administrative agencies, to review agency regulations and to oversee the operations of the executive branch.
- Changes were made to recognize new constitutional and statutory provisions that allow legislatures to call themselves into special session.
- Language was added clarifying the authority of legislative committees to conduct public hearings, gather information and work on proposed legislation during the interim between sessions.
- The language about the appointment—and removal—of committee officers and members was strengthened.
- Limitations on the procedure concerning disagreements between the houses that may lead to a conference committee were imposed.
- Amendments to bills and resolutions must be submitted in writing.
- Presiding officers were given more power to decide questions of germaneness and who is entitled to the floor.
- Legislative custom takes precedence over an adopted parliamentary authority, such as Mason’s Manual.
- The sections on privilege of members from arrest were revised in accordance with judicial developments.
- The term “chief clerk” was changed to “chief legislative officer.”
- The Revision Commission attempted to make the manual “gender neutral.”
Subcommittees were created and assigned sections of the book to review. The full Commission voted on the text changes recommended by each subcommittee.
The Commission searched for and reviewed cases that applied to legislative procedure and that had occurred after the publication of the 1989 edition.
The 2000 List of Changes summarized the changes made to the 1989 edition of Mason’s Manual to create the 2000 edition.
To order the 2000 edition of Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedure, please click here.