Helpful Terms

Representative - Refers to student competitors. They are Representatives because the final round of the tournament is held in the House of Representatives Chamber at the Tennessee Capitol. Representatives in each house compete against one another during the two preliminary rounds on Monday to be in the top bracket for their house in order to get a seat in the final round on Tuesday, March 31st.

Presiding Officer (PO) - Experienced student competitor who facilitates the round using parliamentary procedure according to Robert's Rules of Order. Presiding officers from each house compete against each other with a rotating panel of judges that observes each officer several times during the round.

House - The group of people with whom students are competing. Usually each House is given a name, i.e. the Polk House and the Jackson House.

Junior Varsity - Students ages 8-12

Varsity - Students ages 13-18, including experienced and older 12 yr olds.

Bill - Legislation that is being voted on to become law. Bills can be either federal or state level legislation. See the "bill format" tab for instructions on how to write one.

Resolution - An idea that a representative wants the house to adopt. It's not a law that makes something clearly legal or illegal. A Resolution might be used for something like declaring a new national or state holiday.

Calendar - The list of bills that will be debated each session.

Preliminary Rounds - The two rounds that are debated on Monday where representatives compete against those in their house.

Final Round - The round competed on Tuesday where the top representatives and the top presiding officer compete in the House of Representatives Chamber at the Capitol.

Well - The podium at which representatives stand to give speeches.

Floor - when a member has the full attention of the assembly to speak (also refers to the area where the assembly meets, where its members speak, and where it conducts its business).

Amendment - a specific change to an item of legislation, explaining exactly which words it modifies, and not changing the intent of the legislation itself.

Precedence - standard rule in most debate leagues which requires the presiding officer to choose speakers who have spoken least (or not at all). The only exception to precedence is when a speaker has authorship privileges to legislation when it is introduced for debate. In those cases, the presiding officer must recognize the author first. If no author is present, selecting a sponsor is based on precedence.

Recency - is where the presiding officer not only employs precedence, but also selects speakers based on who has spoken least recently or earliest.