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Every bill starts as an idea. Before drafting a bill, a drafter in the Office of the Legislative Counsel must first understand the idea. This often involves discussing the idea in depth with the requesting member of the Legislative Assembly or with persons designated by the legislator.
The drafter must analyze and understand the legal ramifications of the idea. This often means researching statutes, judicial decisions and administrative rules. Not every idea can be made into a bill; some ideas would violate the state or federal constitution if they became law. Understanding these constitutional and other issues and communicating them to the legislator is part of developing an idea into a bill. Some ideas may require amending existing law; others may require drafting entirely new law. Only by understanding all the ramifications can the drafter determine the best approach.
While writing a bill, the drafter must choose words with care in order to convey as precisely as possible what the legislator intends. Every bill must be clearly understandable to both the casual reader and the legal professional. The drafter also must take care to use words in ways consistent with current usage in state and federal statutes and with court interpretations of those words.
Drafters must also ensure that the bill meets all constitutional requirements for legislative bills, such as expressing the content of the bill in its title and, if the bill is intended for introduction in the Senate, excluding revenue-raising provisions.
Ultimately, the drafter must be certain that the bill contains all the elements necessary to give effect to the legislator's idea. It is the role of the Office of the Legislative Counsel to guarantee that every bill passed by the Legislative Assembly can become clear and effective law.
Legislative Counsel cannot respond to public requests for legal advice. To understand and protect your legal rights, consult your private lawyer. If you have questions or comments about the content of this web page, please
send LC an e-mail.