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Examples of Proper Legislative Drafting Principles

There are numerous examples in both signed and vetoed bills that showcase some of the modern legislative drafting principles

By Chris Micheli, November 1, 2022 10:37 am

As the 2021-22 Legislative Session has concluded, and in reviewing the bills pending on the Governor’s Desk, there are numerous examples in both signed and vetoed bills that showcase some of the modern legislative drafting principles. The following are some of those examples:

This is an example of eliminating repetitious language in a statute:

(3) Sexual assault victims have the right to be informed of the following:

(A) The right to be informed whether  Whether  or not a DNA profile of the assailant was obtained from the testing of the rape kit evidence or other crime scene evidence from their case.

(B) The right to be informed whether  Whether  or not the DNA profile of the assailant developed from the rape kit evidence or other crime scene evidence has been entered into the Department of Justice Data Bank of  or the federal Department of Justice or Federal Bureau of Investigation CODIS database of  case evidence.

(C) The right to be informed whether  Whether  or not there is a confirmed  match between the DNA profile of the assailant developed from the rape kit evidence or other crime scene evidence and a DNA profile contained in the Department of Justice Convicted Offender DNA Data Base, provided that disclosure would not impede or compromise an ongoing investigation.

This is an example of stating something in the active voice, rather than the passive voice (and is not a mandatory versus discretionary statement):

This section shall does not apply to specialized health insurance, Medicare supplement insurance, CHAMPUS supplement insurance, or TRI-CARE supplement insurance, or to hospital indemnity, accident-only, or specified disease insurance.

This is an additional example of using the active voice, rather than the passive voice:

Subdivisions (a) and (b) shall do not apply to any person granted confidentiality upon receipt by the county elections official of a written notice by the address confidentiality program manager of the withdrawal, invalidation, expiration, or termination of the program participant’s certification.

This is an example of conforming to our gender-neutral drafting requirement.

When an employee is not receiving or is not eligible to receive health care coverage for nonoccupational injuries or illnesses provided by the employer, if 90 days from the date the injury is reported the employee who has been receiving treatment from a health care organization or his or her  their  physician, chiropractor, acupuncturist, or other agent notifies his or her  their  employer in writing that he or she  the employee  desires to stop treatment by the health care organization, he or she  they  shall have the right to be treated by a physician, chiropractor, or acupuncturist or at a facility of his or her  their  own choosing within a reasonable geographic area.

This is an example of properly citing to the prior act being amended, rather than “the act”:

Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, family fees shall not be collected for the 2021–22 fiscal year pursuant to Section 263 of the act that added this section. Chapter 116 of the Statutes of 2021.

This is an example of replacing the word “all” with “both” and deleting repetitive words:

An applicant shall have all both the following:

(a) (1)  Have graduated  Graduated  from a college or university maintaining standards equivalent, as determined by the department, to those institutions accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges or an essentially equivalent accrediting agency with a baccalaureate or higher degree with a major appropriate to the field for which a license is being sought.

(b)  (2)  Have one  One  year of full-time postgraduate training or experience in the various areas of analysis in the field for which a license is being sought in a laboratory that has a license issued under this chapter or which the department determines is equivalent thereto.

This is an example of utilizing the singular form of a noun, rather than the plural form:

All An identification plates plate or devices device issued on or after January 1, 1996, shall be displayed as follows:

This is an example of sunsetting a statute without unnecessary language:

This section shall remain in effect only until January 1, 2027, and as of that date is repealed.

This is an example of setting forth legislative intent:

It is the intent of the Legislature that this act shall not be construed to limit consumer privacy protection required pursuant to the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (Title 1.81.5 (commencing with Section 1798.100) of Part 4 of Division 3 of the Civil Code).

This is an example of changing the heading of a statutory scheme:

The heading of Chapter 35 (commencing with Section 22948.20) of Division 8 of the Business and Professions Code is amended to read:

CHAPTER  35. Connected Televisions and Devices

This is an example of providing contingent enactment:

This act shall become operative only upon an express appropriation in the annual Budget Act or another statute for the purposes of this act.

While certainly not an exhaustive list of examples, the ones set forth above all showcase the utilization of modern bill drafting principles and updating California statutes that utilize an outdated form of drafting.

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2 thoughts on “Examples of Proper Legislative Drafting Principles

  1. I appreciate this article. However, the verb construction “shall not apply” is active voice, so the heading about changing verb construction from passive to active is inaccurate. I agree that using “does” is better than using “shall,” but examples of passive voice, at least grammatically defined, would be “Subdivisions (a) and (b) will not be applied . . .” or Subdivisions (a) and (b) shall not be applied . . .” or “Subdivisions (a) and (b) are not applied . . . .”

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