About Bylaws

An introduction to Bylaws and Standing Rules

Wanda M. Sims, Professional Registered Parliamentarian, Governance Committee Chair

The key differences between bylaws and standing rules relate to scope and effect. At the core, bylaws are designed to be overarching and procedural, while standing rules are specific and administrative.

Bylaws are the written rules and regulations adopted by an organization to provide a framework for its operations and management.

  • Bylaws should include all the rules that are of such importance that they cannot be changed in any way without previous notice.
    • Bylaws typically specify the name and purpose of the organization, membership qualifications, rights and assessments (dues), election of officers and their duties and filling of vacancies, meetings and quorum requirements, committees, parliamentary authority, procedure for amending bylaws and the dissolution procedure for the organization.
    • Bylaws may not be suspended unless they provide for their suspension.

Standing rules relate to the details of the administration of the organization and may be suspended for a single meeting, but “should contain only such rules as may be adopted without previous notice by a majority vote at any business meeting.”

Standing Rules may include:

  1. a guest register at the meetings;
  2. wearing name badges at meetings; and
  3. the time and place for the meeting.

Read the Bylaws: BYLAWS 11.30.16 with Line Numbers.

Read the Standing Rules: NLAPW Standing Rules as Amended March 2016 w Line Numbers.

Procedure for proposing amendments to the Bylaws.

2017-2018 Proposed Bylaw Amendment for Stage 1

Article XIV of the NLAPW bylaws contains the following provisions regarding amending the League’s bylaws:

Section 1. PROPOSALS

Any active member has the privilege of proposing amendments to the Bylaws by obtaining the endorsement (a) of 15 (fifteen) branches or (b) a majority vote of the Board of Directors at its annual meeting (April of the odd year).   Proposed amendments shall be sent to the Governance Committee by April 1 (odd year).  


The Governance Committee will publish the endorsed proposals on the website and send to the Branch Presidents by email. The Branch President is responsible for distributing proposed amendments to all branch members and for conducting a branch forum for discussion and debate. Branches may recommend amendments to the amendments, following the process for endorsement in Section 1, and sent to the Governance Committee by October 1 of the odd year.

To implement the above reference sections of the NLAPW bylaws, the Governance Committee developed the following process and schedule for handling proposed amendments to the bylaws. To facilitate the amendment process and for verification purposes, proposed bylaw amendments should be submitted using the 2017-2018 Stage 1 (Art. XIV Sec. 1) Proposed Bylaw Amendment Template as outlined below. A different template will be developed to handle Stage 2 (Art. XIV Sec. 2) of the amendment process – proposed amendments to the proposed amendments received in Stage 1.

Step 1     Complete page 1 of the 2017-2018 Proposed Bylaw Amendment Template — current bylaws language, proposed language, language if amendment is adopted.

Step 2   Complete page 2 of the 2017-2018 Proposed Bylaw Amendment Template by listing the supporting Branches’ documentation — branch name, president, and date the branch voted to endorse the proposed amendment.

Step 3  Attach minutes for each endorsing branch. Branch minutes must indicate the presence of a quorum, exact wording of the proposed bylaw amendment, the date the minutes were approved by the Branch, and be signed by the branch secretary. Proposed amendments submitted without the required documentation or after the deadline of April 1, 2017 will not be considered.


Stage 1 –  Amendment Process and Schedule

Deadline Date Action
April 1, 2017

(Active member submission with 15 endorsing Branches)

Using the 2017-2018 Bylaws Amendment Template (download here: 2017 Bylaws Amendment Proposal Template), submit proposed bylaw amendments to the Governance Committee:

·       By e-mail send to NLAPWBylaws2018@gmail.com; or

·       By U.S. Mail addressed to the Governance Committee at Pen Arts (1300 17th Street, Washington, DC  20036-1973)

July 1, 2017 Publish proposed amendments on the League’s website and send by e-mail to Branch Presidents.


Stage 2 – Amendment Process and Schedule

Deadline Date Action
October 1, 2017

(Branch submission with 15 other endorsing Branches)

Submit proposed amendments to the proposed amendments to the Governance Committee:

  • By e-mail send to NLAPWBylaws2018@gmail.com; or
  • By U.S. Mail addressed to the Governance Committee at Pen Arts, 1300 17th Street, Washington, DC  20036-1973
January 15, 2018 Publish bylaw ballot in The Pen Women and on the League’s website.

Questions regarding the process or schedule should be sent to the Governance Committee at NLAPWBylaws2018@gmail.com.

Download the 2017 Bylaws Amendment Proposal Template: Amendment Proposal Template 2017.