Monday, November 30, 2009

Legislation - Effective Dates

 Toward the end of each year, constituents, journalists, and others become (understandably) quite interested in what new laws are becoming effective when. In North Carolina, the Legislative Library tracks those dates and publishes a very useful list of the effective dates of major legislation: 2009 Legislation Effective Dates.

Unbeknownst to some, but as any law writer knows, a bill sponsor's selection of an effective date for a piece of legislation is a critical decision sometimes governed by rules of the chamber in which the bill will be filed, or by some other convention.

July 1 is a common effective date for North Carolina laws because the State follows a fiscal year beginning July 1 and ending June 30.

December 1 is the effective dates used for courts and criminal law bills in order to allow time for adequate notice to the public and formal training on the new laws for criminal justice personnel.

January 1 of the next year is usually required as the effective date for tax law changes, but it is otherwise a mainstay for obvious reasons.

{Yes, Law Writer does not hesitate to use words like "unbeknownst" and "mainstay" in instances other than the drafting of bills -- for obvious reasons.}

Monday, November 23, 2009

A "Blue" Turkey Day ~ Thanksgiving Blue Laws in the Puritan North

"I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country: he is a Bird of bad moral character: like those among Men who live by Sharping and Robbing, he is generally poor and very often lousy. The Turkey is a much more respectable Bird and withal a true original Native of North America."  ~ Benjamin Franklin  

In Massachusetts and Connecticut, on Thanksgiving Day (and again on Christmas Day, for that matter), many restaurants, bars, and convenience stores will only be open for special hours. But, by law, retail stores, supermarkets, and liquor stores will be closed due to Blue Laws.

Blue Laws were so named because they were published on blue paper. Written in the 1600s by mostly Puritan law makers, the aim was to preserve the morality of the colonits and later the state residents. Closing all of the stores and businesses and restricting alcohol sales was designed to assist in keeping the people in church or at home with their families on Sundays, and later on national holidays. Subsequently, blue laws were expanded to protect workers from being forced to work on Sundays and holidays.



Saturday, November 21, 2009

James Davis, the House of Burgesses, and the North-Carolina Gazette

In 1749, when the colonial Assembly of North Carolina decided to retain an official printer, James Davis (1721-1785), of Virginia, was the man and he then became  the  first printer in North Carolina. James Davis went on to print the province's money and to become the proprietor of the first newspaper in North Carolina. Davis published the North-Carolina Gazette over two separate periods. First, from 1751 until around 1760, until he began a new newspaper -- The North-Carolina Magazine; Or Universal Intelligencer in 1764. Publication continued until around 1768. By May 1768,  Davis had "retooled" operations and reverted to the original title. The "new" North-Carolina Gazette continued in print until 1778.

{Above: Pound and shilling notes printed by James Davis in the collection of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Below: Gazette Masthead from LEARN NC webpage.}

Kudos: Scott Aaron Reavis wrote a truly masterful paper on James Davis, entitled James Davis: North Carolina's First Printer, in 2000 in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a Masters in Science in Library Science from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His paper includes an extensive annotated bibliography of all known printings of James Davis.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Printers' Ornaments

"Printers' ornaments are decorative motifs used to fill in page space, signify the end of a chapter or the end of a book and generally add an aesthetic quality to the printed page. They have been around since moveable type printing commenced in the 15th century."

Definition from:
BibliOdyssey Blog
Books~~Illustrations~~Science~~History~~Visual Materia Obscura~~Eclectic Bookart

Above: Details of several printers' ornaments
as found in the following two volumes:

A collection of all the acts of Assembly, of the province of North-Carolina, in force and use since the revisal of the laws in the year 1751: together with the titles of all such laws as are obsolete, had their effect, expir'd or repeal'd: with an exact table: to which is prefixed a list of the names of those gentlemen who subscribed for the book. New Bern, N.C.: Printed by James Davis, M,DCC,LXIV [1764] 
A collection of all the acts of Assembly of the province of North-Carolina, now in force and use: together with the titles of all such laws as are obsolete, expired or repealed: in two volumes: with marginal notes and references and an exact table to the whole. New Bern, N.C.: Printed by James Davis, M,DCC,LXV [1765]

Source: University Library, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: The Colonial and State Records of North Carolina Digital Collection. A project made possible by a Library Services and Technology Act grant distributed through the State Library of North Carolina. Recommended Link ~ Documenting the American South

For beautiful & interesting information about printers' ornaments see: BibliOdyssey Blog

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

GINA and the Saturday Effective Date

On May 21, 2008, President George W. Bush signed into law the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (H.R. 493), known as GINA. Public Law No. 110-233 (2008).

Basically, GINA prohibits health insurers (Title I) and employers (Title II) from discriminating against applicants, employees, and the insured based on genetic tests or genetic information.

One interesting thing about GINA is that Title II of the Act becomes effective 18 months after the date of enactment, which is Saturday, November 21, 2009. 

Recommended GINA Links:

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

THE Manual ~ Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedure

Mason's Manual is published by the National Conference of State Legislatures in cooperation with the American Society of Legislative Clerks and Secretaries. 

At 707 pages, calling Mason's the "bible of legislative procedure" would not be inaccurate, or boastful. Mason's tome is THE Manual. 

An effective law writer will understand the principles advanced in Mason's Manual, for that is the context and system under which one will work. Legislative bodies adopt their own rules of procedure. It is Law Writer's understanding that Mason's Manual has become the most widely used legislative procedure guide in the United States, currently in use by 77 of the 99 state legislative bodies in the United States. Thus, when the rules of procedure of a house need to be supplemented, Mason's becomes the guiding text. 

Mason's Manual is edited by NCSL every few years to update relevant legal precedents. NCSL ~ Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedure

NOTE ~ Paul Mason's (1898-1985) roles in California state government included: Chief Assistant Secretary of the California Senate (1929-1932); Chief, Division of Driver's Licenses (1937-1953); Director of Motor Vehicles (1954-1958); and Legislative Secretary to Governor Goddwin Knight (1954-1958). * Before his death, Mason assigned the copyright of his manual to NCSL.  

The two other leading manuals of legislative procedure include Thomas Jefferson's Manual of the Senate and Cushing's Legislative Assemblies.

PRIMARY RESOURCE ~ MANUAL OF PARLIAMENTARY PRACTICE: for the Use of the Senate of the United States. BY THOMAS JEFFERSON. SECOND EDITION. WITH THE LAST ADDITIONS OF THE AUTHOR. GEORGE TOWN: PUBLISHED BY JOSEPH MILLIGAN; AND BY WILLIAM COOPER, WASHINGTON. 1812. Edited with an Introduction by Wilbur Samuel Howell. (Published without copyright by Princeton University Press)  Link to TEXT.

PRIMARY RESOURCE ~ Cushing's Manual of parliamentary practice for deliberative assemblies and rules of procedure in business corporation meetings. by Luther Stearns Cushing. Published in 1914, The John C. Winston Company (Philadelphia)  ~ Link to  Cushing's TEXT on Google Books.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Bill Drafting Bibliography -- The Classics

As recommended by the master drafters of the Texas legislature:

Biskind, Elliott L. Simplify Legal Writing. 2nd ed. New York: Arco, 1975. Aimed at the general practitioner. Examines the style and ambiguities of certain examples and rewrites them in proper form. A large portion is devoted to suggestions for avoiding common errors in legal writing.

Dickerson, Reed. Legislative Drafting. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1954. The bible for legislative drafting. Primarily gives answers to everyday drafting problems. [Westport: Greenwood Press, 1977. Reprint of the 1954 edition.]

Filson, Lawrence E., and Sandra L. Strokoff. The Legislative Drafter’s Desk Reference. 2nd ed. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2008. An overview of legislative drafting concerns and considerations with an emphasis on federal statute construction. Provides statutory examples, case studies, and court decision citations to illustrate drafting principles. Also examines the dynamics between legislative and judicial branches in interpreting legislation.

Garner, Bryan A. A Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford UP, 2001. A general reference work that provides definitions of legal terms and guidance on specific points of usage.

Goldfarb, Ronald L., and James C. Raymond. Clear Understandings. New York: Random House, 1982. Demonstrates through anecdotes and examples problems common to legal writing and how to solve them. Does not address legislative drafting but is a readable and entertaining guide to improved legal expression in general.

Haggard, Thomas R. Legal Drafting in a Nutshell. St. Paul: West Publishing Co., 1996. Addresses many facets of the legal drafting process, including style and usage, construction of definitions, contract drafting, and legislative drafting.

Mehlman, Maxwell J., and Edward G. Grossman. Yale Legislative Services Handbook of Legislative Drafting. New Haven: Yale Legislative Services, 1977. Designed to provide instruction in the basic techniques of legislative drafting for nonprofessional drafters. Divided into two main sections—one section concerns word choice and sentence structure and the other concerns the parts of a bill.

Mellinkoff, David. The Language of the Law. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1963. Explores the history and usage of legal language. Well researched, understandable, and humorous. Not a guide for legal drafting but useful to improve writing and drafting skills.

Mellinkoff, David. Legal Writing: Sense and Nonsense. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1982. Provides lively instruction in ways to make legal documents more precise and readable. Does not deal specifically with legislative drafting.

Sutherland, Jabez G. Statutes and Statutory Construction. 6th ed. edited by Norman J. Singer. St. Paul: West Group, 2000. Discussion of legislative powers, constitutional regulations relative to the forms of legislation and to legislative procedure, together with an exposition at length of the principles of statutory interpretation and construction.