Standing on Business

What Does “Standing on Business” Mean?

In governing bodies, the phrase “standing on business” refers to the suspension of normal proceedings to address an important issue. This parliamentary procedure allows lawmakers to temporarily suspend regular rules or activities to address pressing issues or handle urgent matters. Understanding when and how “standing on business” is used can provide information about legislative processes and priorities.

Introducing Standing for Business

Standing on business is a procedural tactic used in legislative bodies to pause regular proceedings and address urgent or noteworthy business. Typically, a legislator will rise and request to stand on business, then explain their reasoning once acknowledged.

This causes the body to enter a temporary state where it is solely focused on the identified business matter, rather than following the normal order. The goal is to address critical issues quickly before returning to normal operations. Standing on business gives lawmakers the freedom to balance both daily legislative routines and pressing needs as they arise.

Why Standing on Business Is Invoked

There are numerous reasons why a legislator may request a position on business. Generally, it is used for matters that are deemed particularly important or timely. Examples include:

  • Debating a significant new bill or issue that recently emerged
  • Responding to an unexpected event or crisis.
  • Managing budgetary issues and deadlines
  • Reacting to actions by other legislative bodies.
  • accommodating the schedules of key participants.
  • Streamlining decision-making regarding critical legislation

Standing on business usually indicates that a specific issue requires immediate attention before normal activity can resume. The decision to temporarily shift focus indicates that the identified issue requires preferential treatment or a separate block of consideration.

How Standing on Business Differentiates from Other Procedural Moves

Legislators have a variety of procedural options to achieve different objectives. Standing on business, unlike motions to recess or adjourn, does not end or interrupt a session. It also differs from introducing legislation, which postpones matters for unspecified periods of time. Instead, this parliamentary tactic creates a block of deliberative space to focus on important issues in the short term before returning to standard procedures.

Some important differences include:

Recessing stops all business, whereas standing on business pauses only regular activity.

Adjourning terminates a session permanently, as opposed to standing on business, which is only temporary.

Legislation is tabled, whereas business is prioritized.

Amending agendas alters outlines, whereas standing on business is more impromptu.

As a result, using this tactic allows lawmakers to briefly shift their focus to important issues without losing momentum or their place in daily affairs.

The Procedure for Standing on Business

In most legislative settings, the actual process of transitioning to a stand-alone business follows well-defined protocols. Typically, it involves the following core steps:

  • A legislator seeks recognition by introducing a motion such as “I stand on business.”
  • The presiding officer requests that the legislator explain their reasoning.
  • The legislator explains why the issue deserves preferential treatment and immediate attention.
  • The presiding officer or body votes to confirm standing on business.
  • If approved, the discussion shifts entirely to the highlighted topic, suspending regular rules.
  • Once addressed, the presiding officer returns to any unfinished general orders before acknowledging the request to stand on business.
  • Following these guidelines allows standing on business to be invoked in a clear order before dealing with urgent matters in designated blocks of debate.

Examples Where Standing on Business May Apply

Standing on business is relevant in all types of legislative bodies when pressing issues arise. Here are several examples:

State legislatures – A budget crisis must be addressed before a deadline.

Congress – An ongoing international conflict necessitates prompt action to authorize military intervention.

County Commissions – In the event of a weather emergency, personnel and resources must be redirected to disaster response.

City Councils – A major local employer announces a plant closure, prompting a special meeting to plan community assistance.

In such cases, standing on business enables lawmakers to demonstrate responsiveness by scheduling dedicated discussion times for important issues affecting constituents before returning to more routine legislative activities.

Benefits of Standing in Business

This important procedural rule has numerous benefits for legislative bodies with busy agendas. Key advantages include:

  • Promoting good governance by quickly addressing pressing issues outside of strict protocols when necessary. This shows nimbleness and responsiveness.
  • Providing the public with transparency about priorities by formally announcing when an issue becomes important enough to suspend regular orders and procedures.
  • Creating a space for robust debate without the delays and obstacles of traditional rules, thereby accelerating consensus-building.
  • Making better use of resources by addressing related issues together in a dedicated block rather than piecemeal across disjointed sessions over longer periods.

In essence, allows lawmaking bodies to move forward despite emerging developments while still meeting constituent needs.

Criticisms and controversies Regarding Standing on Business

Standing on business, while designed to provide flexibility, is not without criticism. Several complaints include:

Excessive use takes away too much time from general orders and scheduled tasks. Overuse of this reduces overall productivity.

  • Some legislators may be caught off guard by unexpected changes, limiting their ability to make meaningful contributions. Similarly, constituents may feel excluded from the decision-making process if changes are made quickly and without public notice.
  • Misuse can suppress minority viewpoints if used manipulatively to advance partisan interests rather than universal concerns. This undermines transparency in governance.
  • Standing on business, when invoked secretively, may appear suspiciously similar to closed-door dealmaking hidden from the public record under the guise of urgent need. This erosion of access and trust in institutions eventually undermines democracy.

Like any procedural maneuver subject to human judgment, the privileged application of necessitates prudent checks and balances to prevent overreach or abuse at the expense of accountability.


In summary, “standing on business” is a unique parliamentary procedure that allows legislative bodies to temporarily suspend regular activity when vitally important issues warrant preferential treatment. By bringing key issues to the forefront, lawmakers demonstrate responsiveness to emerging events that affect constituents in real time, adding nimbleness to normally rigid procedural processes.

The ability to stand on business in support of good governance must be balanced by ongoing public scrutiny to ensure that issues warrant an exception and receive thoughtful solutions based on facts. With transparency in invocation and vigilance against misuse, this tactic ultimately exists to shed light where and when it is most needed to improve representation. 

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