If your organization follows The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure (often referred to as “Sturgis”), or the AIP Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure, or you simply want to learn more about parliamentary practices at meetings, there’s a new book to check out: the American Institute of Parliamentarians Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure, Second Edition.
Stay with me here for some necessary background–
Originally by Alice Sturgis, The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure was first released in 1950 as a simpler alternative to the Robert’s Rules of Order of its time. The Standard Code had fewer motions, updated archaic terms, modernized some practices, and cited court decisions about procedure as evidence of correct meeting procedure. In short, Sturgis focused more on principles than having a rule for every situation.
While holding a much smaller market share than Robert’s, The Standard Code has a loyal following. For instance, many of my physician and dentist association clients use some version of Sturgis due to preferring its practices, including the process around “reference committees.” (For more information, see Parliamentary Authorities: Robert’s Rules of Order vs Sturgis vs The AIP Standard Code)) Sturgis has a special place in my heart, as it’s the parliamentary book given to me by my father (a dentist) over forty years ago when I expressed an interest in parliamentary procedure.
Alice Sturgis died in 1974, but in 2001 the American Institute of Parliamentarians published The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure, Fourth Edition. Without getting into the weeds of authorship and copyright, the 2001 Fourth Edition is almost certainly the last in the line of books that can accurately be called “Sturgis.”
In 2012 the American Institute of Parliamentarians published the American Institute of Parliamentarians Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure. The book is not a direct successor to The Standard Code (so not called “Sturgis”), and organizations that follow Sturgis would not automatically hop to the new AIP Standard Code without a change to governing documents. However, the 2012 AIP Standard Code was based on the same principles of simplification, modernization, and ease of comprehension enunciated by Alice Sturgis. It too eliminated several motions and devices found in Robert’s. For those familiar with Sturgis, many practices and passages are the same. (For more information, see Is There a Difference between The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure (“Sturgis”) and AIP’s Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure?)
With that as background . . . The Second Edition of American Institute of Parliamentarians Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure has been released!
For organizations that already follow the AIP Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure, this new edition will likely replace the 2012 edition on January 1, 2024. That’s because Bylaws often refer not to a specific book but to the “latest edition.” For such groups, the Second Edition in section .31 states that “the effective date for this to be deemed the ‘current’ edition shall be January 1, 2024.” For organizations that follow “Sturgis” or “The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure,” consideration should be given as to whether the Second Edition should be made the organization’s parliamentary authority, particularly since the last “Sturgis” is now over 20 years since publication.
There are far more updates in the new edition than I’ll be able to mention here, so take a look yourself. However, here are some immediately recognizable differences:
- Bigger book–the First Edition was 326 pages; the Second Edition is 428 pages.
- The Second Edition’s paper size is larger.
- Section and subsection numbers have been added, so that each paragraph begins with something like “25.52.”
- New chapters have been added (34 chapters versus 31) with new headings/categories under which the chapters are organized, with titles such as “Organization Leadership.”
As to specific procedure updates, the Second Edition also has many, including:
- The default for electronic meetings is changed from “not allowed unless stated in the governing documents” to “allowed unless prohibited in the governing documents.”
- Default rules for when an organization’s governing documents are silent.
- Removal of allowing consideration of a motion or topic informally.
- Clarification on what makes up “unfinished business.”
- The default requirement for bylaws amendments has been updated to previous notice and a two-thirds vote.
- A new expanded chapter on member discipline.
- A process is established for handling individual bylaw amendments in the event a revision fails.
- Sample emergency bylaws.
- The motion to “Close Debate and Vote Immediately” is now amendable.
- The concept of a “substitute amendment” has been removed, since an amendment to strike out and insert serves that purpose.
- After debate is closed, factual inquiries (called “Requests for Information” in Robert’s) are no longer permitted, although parliamentary inquiries are.
- The phrasing and creating of a “continued meeting” have been clarified.
- Credentialing rules to form a convention or house of delegates have been clarified.
- Hybrid sample rules are provided. Sample rules for hybrid meetings–those conducted with members attending in person as well as virtually–are provided.
- Electronic notice of meetings is the default unless prohibited by the bylaws or state law.
- Terminology has been updated, including “Specific Main Motion” to “Specific-Purpose Main Motions,” “Special Orders” to “Scheduled Orders, ” and “Standing and Special Rules of Order” to “Standing Rules of Order and Temporary Rules.”
Without question, the new American Institute of Parliamentarians Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure, Second Edition represents significant effort to modernize, simplify, and provide parliamentary process in plain language. Given that new editions of both Robert’s and the AIP Standard Code are now released about every ten years, it’s no longer the case that one book is “old” and the other “new.” Instead, different groups are likely to use a particular book because they prefer the tone and specific practices in that book. Put another way, if your group has always used Robert’s and is used to its procedure, you’ll likely use the most recent Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, 12th Edition (released in 2020). However, if you’re looking for an alternative or your organization has traditionally used Sturgis or the first edition of the American Institute of Parliamentarians Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure, you should check out the new Second Edition. It is a fuller book of procedure than the First Edition but maintains plain-speaking terms and has been updated for our modern world of virtual meetings and electronic voting. Also, for those who enjoy meeting procedure, reading the Second Edition will expand and supplement your knowledge of the procedures found in Robert’s. By seeing where and how processes differ, you’ll gain an understanding of why things are done. As stated by one early parliamentary author “Unless the reason for a rule is understood, it is difficult to learn the rule, and it is still more difficult to apply it successfully in practice.” It also never hurts to know more than you need to know.
If of interest, here’s a parliamentary motions chart (“cheat sheet”) to the most frequently used motions in the AIP Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure, Second Edition. Also, my recent book Notes and Comments on Robert’s Rules, Fifth Edition points out and discusses many of the differences between the practices in Robert’s, Sturgis, and the AIP Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure.
To purchase the new AIP Second Edition, visit Amazon at American Institute of Parliamentarians Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure, Second Edition.