Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

Goddard and Thompson to our committee are submitted herewith as Appendix A and Appendix B, respectively.

Assistance in the framing of legislation given by existing agencies falls under two heads, legislative reference service, or the work of collecting material throwing light on the subject matter of legislation, and drafting service.

The Legislative Reference Service, now actually carried on in several states, demonstrates that it is entirely practical to collect, classify, digest and index, prior to a session of a legislature, all kinds of material bearing on practically all subjects likely to become subjects of actual legislation at the session. This material, where the bureau is well run, includes not only books and pamphlets, such as might be found in an ordinary library, but also copies of bills introduced into the various state legislatures and laws which have been enacted in this and foreign countries, and other printed materials relating to the operation of such laws or the conditions creating a need for them. Indeed, on most subjects of possible legislation, the difficulty is not to find material, but to arrange the large mass of available material so as to make its efficient use practical. That such service has great possibilities of usefulness is evident, especially where the service is directly contributory to the drafting service, a matter to be presently explained. The increasing complication of our industrial, social and governmental administrative problems renders it necessary, if the discussion of matters pertaining to legislation is to proceed. in a reasonably intelligent manner, that systematic effort be expended on the collection and arrangement of material bearing on current matters of public discussion likely to become the subject of legislative enactment. A central agency to furnish such service does not take the place of special commissions or committees created to investigate particular subjects and recommend legislation. The object of the central reference service should be to assist such bodies, as well as individual members of the legislature and others desiring information pertaining to subjects of legislation.

Existing agencies also demonstrate that it is possible to provide expert drafting service for the more important measures and

some assistance in the drafting of all bills introduced. The number of bills, for which expert drafting assistance can be furnished, would appear to be merely a question of the size of the force and the amount of the appropriation for its support. Your committee, therefore, believes that it is entirely practical to establish, in connection with any legislature, a permanent agency capable of giving expert drafting assistance for all bills introduced, and they urge the Association to place itself on record as favoring such an agency as the most practical means of bringing about scientific methods of legislation, that is to say, methods of drafting statutes which will secure:

1. Conformity to constitutional requirements.

2. Adequacy of the provisions of the law to its purpose.

3. Co-ordination with the existing law. And

4. The utmost simplicity of form consistent with certainty. The technical shortcomings of our statutes are chiefly due to the fact that they come from so many hands working without supervision and without a concerted plan. Each statute is apt to create, to some extent, an administrative machinery of its own, to have its own peculiar provisions for sanction and enforcement, and to frame new rules and principles applicable to already existing acts in pari materia. The multiplicity of separate provisions for separate statutes produces confusion, and unnecessarily encumbers our law.

A distinct drafting service will produce the one thing indispensable to scientific legislation: a professional attitude of mind, which means training for the work, devotion to it, and a reputation at stake in its proper execution, without which a high quality of workmanship is as unlikely in legislation as in any other work.

The organization of the two services, legislative reference and legislative drafting, and their relation to each other, are important factors in the usefulness of the results obtained from the establishment of the service. The agencies now existing, considered from the point of view of organization, fall into two classes; those in which the legislative reference work and the bill drafting are provided for in a single permanent bureau, as in

Wisconsin, Indiana and Pennsylvania, and those in which the legislative reference work is carried on by the state library or one of its divisions, the drafting work being done by persons appointed by and operating under the direct control of the legislature, as in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts. Your committee does not feel that they are as yet in a position to express an opinion on the relative merits of either form of organization. They are, however, of the opinion that the reference service should be so organized and operated as to be directly contributory to the drafting service, and that all questions of organization of the two services, their physical location and the relation of the reference work to the other ends than the drafting of bills, as, for instance, supplying to legislators and others material for the discussion of pending or possible legislation, should be decided with this fundamental principle in mind. Where, as in New York, the reference service is not used by the drafting department, comparatively little use of the reference service is made by members of the legislature. Again, if the drafting service makes no use of the reference service, the drafting service is necessarily confined to minor matters of form.

It is, of course, essential that the member, administrative officer, committee or commission, employing the drafting service shall be the final judge of the policy to be expressed in legislative form. Any one entitled to use the service should be entitled to it without regard to the effect of the bill which he desires to have drawn.' It is, however, not only proper but vital if the drafting service is to do more than correct obvious clerical and formal errors, for those in charge of the work to be able, through their access to the reference material, to indicate, if desired, to the sponsors of the legislation the statutes of other states or countries dealing with

The particular organization in each of the states mentioned is detailed in Mr. Thompson's report, Appendix B.

'This principle, as far as your committee is aware, is fully recognized by those connected with the permanent drafting services now organized in the several states. The Wisconsin bureau, for instance, has drawn with equal readiness bills to improve the organization of the service and a bill to abolish the salaries of all persons connected with it.

the same subject, or direct their attention to any other material collected by the reference service. Theoretically, the member of a legislature desiring assistance in the preparation of bills, if there is no co-operation between the reference and the drafting service, can go first to the reference service for material and then to the drafting service. Practically, however, in the great majority of cases, the member seeks the aid not of the reference but of the drafting service. That service should be in a position to place the member in possession of all pertinent matter in relation to the subject. Furthermore, the draftsman himself should be in a position to ask the person, commission or committee intelligent questions as to the details of the measure desired. This he cannot do unless he himself has some familiarity with the subject matter. Where the draftsman is not in a position to refer the person or persons desiring the legislation to material bearing on the subject, and where he is not in a position to ask intelligent questions as to details, his assistance is necessarily confined to minor questions of form and, consequently, the effectiveness of the drafting service is reduced to a minimum. The valuable results obtained in Wisconsin are due to a combination of causes, not the least of which is the personality and ability of Dr. Charles McCarthy, the well-known head of the service. Another contributory cause, however, is the fact that that service has gone beyond mere form, without any attempt to control matters of policy, and this would have been impossible if the reference work had not been organized so as to be contributory to the drafting service.

Your committee also believes that another essential requisite is that both services shall be so organized as to secure permanency of tenure. To be of real value the service must be used and this cannot be unless there is confidence both in the competency and the impartiality of the personnel of the service. Under the most favorable conditions such confidence is a matter of slow growth. There is a great difference in the value of the service in different states, where either a reference or a drafting service or both have been organized. There is also even more difference in the use which is made of the services established. We are glad to report that the reappointment of directors and chief assistants, regard

less of party considerations, is almost universal. It is to this fact, as well as to the inherent necessity for both branches of this service, in view of existing conditions, that the growing confidence in the work of the respective organization in the several states where the service exists may be traced.

As stated, the present force available in any state which has established a central drafting service, is not sufficient to furnish efficient expert assistance in the drafting of all bills introduced. Your committee recognizes that this condition is likely, in most states, to persist for some time. All that can be done, even by such an organization as that maintained in Wisconsin, is to give as much time as possible to the demands of each member, reserving special men for what are recognized as the big important measures of the session. While it is important that all bills introduced should be well drawn, the drawing of the bills that become law is of first importance. In nearly every state the more important bills enacted into law fall under one of the following heads: Administration Bills, that is, bills dealing with matters referred to in the governor's message and probably prepared under his direction; Commission Bills, that is, bills prepared by special commissions appointed for the purpose; Committee Bills, that is, bills prepared by some special or joint committee of one or both houses; and Department Bills, or bills which have been prepared under the direction of one of the executive departments. In view of this fact, your committee is of the opinion that where full and adequate service cannot be given to all bills, preference should be given: First, to Administration Bills; second, to Commission Bills; third, to Committee Bills; fourth, to Department Bills; and fifth, to Members' Bills. Your committee believes that the recognition of this principle is of great importance to the efficient operation of the drafting service.

Again, it is not only important that bills such as Administration and Commission Bills be given preference, but it is also perhaps vital to the permanent usefulness of the service and even its continuance, that the administration, the executive departments, commissions and committees, shall recognize their obligation to at least avail themselves of the drafting service. The present

« ForrigeFortsett »