Mason's Manual

10/30/2020

Mason's Manual

About the Manual

Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedure is a premier parliamentary authority for state legislatures.

The original Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedure was authored by Paul Mason in 1935, and he subsequently updated it six times. Now, the National Conference of State Legislatures holds the book's copyright. NCSL follows Paul Mason's tradition of updating and reprinting the book approximately every 10 years.  The American Society of Legislative Clerks and Secretaries assists NCSL with its revisions. 

The Current Edition—2020 Edition 

With the most up-to-date citations of case law and sources of authority, the 2020 Mason’s Manual is essential for the 2021 legislative session. And, for the first time ever, the 2020 edition of Mason’s Manual is available in both print and digital formats, allowing users to access it online anytime. Accessing parliamentary laws, rules and procedures has never been easier.

Here's what's different in the 2020 edition of Mason’s Manual. 

  • The use of certain words was changed for consistency.
  • Sections about remote participation were added.
  • The section about legislative privilege and immunity was rewritten.
  • The section about the enrolled bill rule versus the journal entry rule was reorganized.
  • More internal cross references were added.
  • Parliamentary manual citations were reviewed and updated as needed.
  • Case law from 2009 to 2019 was reviewed, and case citations were updated as needed.
  • The index was updated.

Individual Book: You choose, print OR digital.

  • Legislator or legislative staff        $90
  • All others                                       $110

Package Rate: Can’t decide? Get BOTH versions!

  • Legislator or legislative staff         $120
  • All others                                          $155

All orders include free shipping, and a 10% discount will be applied to orders of 25 or more print edition books.

Please note: Due to license management for the digital edition, the purchaser of the digital book or package (print AND digital book) will be the sole owner of the digital book’s license and the account is not transferable. Each digital edition must be purchased separately.

Purchase your 2020 edition today!  If you have any questions about ordering an edition, click here.

Important: Log into your NCSL account before trying to make a purchase. Login is required.

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E-Learning and Training on the Manual

A central mission of the 2020 Mason’s Manual Commission was to develop teaching modules to further understanding of Mason’s Manual. So, the Commission created these short educational videos about parliamentary procedure and the 2010 Mason’s Manual. Check them out!

10 Principles of Parliamentary Procedure

Best Practices for Debate and Decorum

Mason's Manual Commissions—General Background

Mason's Manual Commissions are created to oversee the revisions of Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedure. Each commission is named after the edition on which it will work. For example, the 2020 Mason's Manual Commission was responsible for developing the 2020 edition.

2020 Mason's Manual Commission

The 2020 Mason’s Manual Commission was created in June 2011 by ASLCS President Robert Marchant, chief clerk of the Wisconsin Senate. The 2020 Mason's Manual Commission had two main goals:

  1. Develop parliamentary procedure training materials. 
  2. Create the 2020 edition of Mason's.
     

The 2020 Mason’s Manual Commission held 27 meetings during its term. The 2020 List of Changes provides a summary of the changes that the commission made to the 2010 edition of Mason’s Manual to create the 2020 edition. The 2020 Mason's Manual Commission dissolved in October 2020.

Membership. During its 10-year existence, 25 ASLCS members served on the commission:

  • Bonnie Alexander of the Idaho House (2011-2016).
  • David Byerman, secretary of the Nevada Senate (2011-2014).
  • Joseph Carleton, secretary of the Maine Senate (2012).
  • Liz Clark, secretary of the Alaska Senate (2011-2020).
  • Laura Clemens, clerk of the Ohio House (2011).
  • Claire Clift, secretary of the Nevada Senate (2016-2020).
  • Ann Cornwell, secretary of the Arkansas Senate (2011-2020).
  • Yolanda Dixon, secretary of the Louisiana Senate (2011-2020).
  • Jim Drake, chief clerk of the Arizona House (2015-2020).
  • Susan Furlong, chief clerk of the Nevada Assembly (2011-2020).
  • Robert Haney, chief clerk of the Texas House (2018-2020).
  • Russell Humphrey, chief clerk of the Tennessee Senate (2011-2020).
  • Susan Kannarr, chief clerk of the Kansas House (2017-2020).
  • Ramona Kenady Line, chief clerk of the Oregon House (2011-2014).
  • Joel Kintsel, parliamentarian/administrator of the Oklahoma House (2013-2017).
  • William MaGill, clerk of the Vermont House (2011-2020).
  • Robert Marchant, chief clerk of the Wisconsin Senate (2011).
  • Steven Marshall, assistant secretary of the Vermont Senate (2012-2020).
  • Megan Martin, secretary of the Pennsylvania Senate (2013-2020).
  • Bernadette McNulty, deputy secretary of the California Senate (2014-2020).
  • Tara Perkinson, deputy clerk of the Virginia Senate (2011-2020).
  • Paul Smith, clerk of the New Hampshire House (2020).
  • Alfred Speer, clerk of the Louisiana House (2011-2019).
  • Denise Weeks, principal clerk of the North Carolina House (2011-2017).
  • Joyce Wright, chief clerk to the secretary of the Alabama Senate (2011-2020).

2010 Mason's Manual Commission

The 2010 Mason’s Manual Commission was created in December 2002 by ASLCS President Ann Cornwell, secretary of the Arkansas Senate; its members were appointed in February 2003. 

Initially, three subcommittees were created to perform most of the revision work. The Legal Citation Review Subcommittee was responsible for the review of existing legal citations and new case law. The Internal Integrity and Layout Subcommittee reviewed existing parliamentary manual citations and created a new index. The Substantive Review Subcommittee searched parliamentary manuals and legislative rules for supplemental material and reviewed the existing text for inconsistencies. Later in the revision cycle, a fourth subcommittee was formed to assist with the final review and editing of manual drafts.

The 2010 Mason’s Manual Commission held 22 meetings during its term. The final report of the 2010 Commission provides more detail about the work of the commission and its subcommittees. The 2010 List of Changes provides a summary of the changes that the commission made to the 2000 edition of Mason’s Manual to create the 2010 edition. The 2010 commission was dissolved on Sept. 7, 2010, at the ASLCS Professional Development Seminar in Milwaukee, Wis.

During its seven-year existence, 20 ASLCS members served on the 2010 commission:

  • Dave Avant, administrative assistant of the Alabama Senate (2003-2010).
  • Diane Bell, assistant clerk of the Florida House (2003-2010).
  • Joe Blough, administrative programs officer of the Oklahoma House (2003-2004).
  • Laura Clemens, clerk of the Ohio House (2003-2010).
  • Claire Clift, secretary of the Nevada Senate (2005-2010).
  • Ann Cornwell, secretary of the Arkansas Senate (2003-2010).
  • Mark Corrigan, secretary of the Pennsylvania Senate (2003-2005).
  • Jeff Finch, deputy clerk of the Virginia House (2003-2010).
  • Russell Humphrey, chief clerk of the Tennessee Senate (2007-2010).
  • Ramona Kenady, chief clerk of the Oregon House (2006-2010).
  • Millie MacFarland, clerk of the Maine House (2003-2010).
  • Don Milne, clerk of the Vermont House (2003-2010).
  • Norman Moore, chief clerk of the Arizona House (2003-2009).
  • Pat O’Donnell, clerk of the Nebraska Legislature (2003-2010).
  • John Phelps, clerk of the Florida House (2003-2006).
  • Susan Schaar, clerk of the Virginia Senate (2003-2004).
  • Patsy Spaw, secretary of the Texas Senate (2004-2010).
  • Alfred “Butch” Speer, clerk of the Louisiana House (2003-2010).
  • Karen Wadsworth, clerk of the New Hampshire House (2003-2010).
  • Denise Weeks, principal clerk of the North Carolina House (2003-2010).

1989-2000 Mason's Manual Revision Commission

The Mason's Manual Revision Commission was created in 1984. When first formed, the commission was a continuous body. The Mason’s Manual Revision Commission was responsible for the 1989 and 2000 editions of Mason’s Manual. 

1989 Edition. 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.”


2000 Edition. 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.

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, Texas, the Revision Commission met and adopted a proposed standing order, which it submitted to the ASLCS Executive Committee. On Aug. 14, 2001, the ASLCS Executive Committee adopted an amended version of the standing order. The new standing order dissolved the Revision Commission, effective Aug. 15, 2001.

Membership. During its 18-year tenure, 29 ASLCS members served on the Revision Commission.

  • Stephen Arias, chief clerk of the New Mexico House (1992-2001).
  • Hogan Brown, assistant secretary of the South Carolina Senate (1993-2001).
  • Joe Brown, secretary of the Florida Senate (1984-1993).
  • Edward Burdick, chief clerk of the Minnesota House (1984-2001).
  • Grace Collins, principal clerk of the North Carolina House (1984-1993).
  • Mark R. Corrigan, secretary of the Pennsylvania Senate (1984-2001).
  • Patrick Flahaven, secretary of the Minnesota Senate (1983-2001).
  • Gregory Gray, clerk of the West Virginia House (1984-2001).
  • Janet Jones, chief clerk of the Kansas House (1993-2001).
  • William Kandler, secretary of the Michigan Senate (1984-1986).
  • Ramona Kenady, chief clerk of the Oregon House (1992-2001).
  • Betty King, secretary of the Texas Senate (1984-2001).
  • Mouryne Landing, chief clerk of the Nevada Assembly (1984-1995).
  • McDowell Lee, secretary of the Alabama Senate (1991-2001).
  • Joseph Mayo, clerk of the Maine House (1994-2001).
  • Clyde W. McCullough, Jr., chief clerk of the Tennessee Senate (1984-2001).
  • Patrick O’Donnell, clerk of the Nebraska Legislature (1984-2001).
  • Carole Peterson, chief clerk of the Utah House (1993-1995).
  • John B. Phelps, clerk of the Florida House (1984-2001).
  • Robert Picher, clerk of the Vermont House (1984-1993).
  • Jane Richards, chief clerk of the Arizona House (1984-1993).
  • Susan Schaar, clerk of the Virginia Senate (1994-2001).
  • Donald J. Schneider, chief clerk of the Wisconsin Senate (1984-2001).
  • Alfred Speer, clerk of the Louisiana House (1992-2001).
  • Janice Thomas, secretary of the Nevada Senate (1995-2001).
  • Karen Wadsworth, clerk of the New Hampshire House (1994-2001).
  • Larry Warden, chief clerk of the Oklahoma House (1993-2001).
  • Denise Weeks, principal clerk of the North Carolina House (1995-2001)
  • Kenneth Wright, secretary of the Illinois Senate (1984-1986)