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WASHINGTON STATE LEGISLATURE

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					WASHINGTON STATE LEGISLATURE




       BILL DRAFTING
  AND BILL REPORT WRITING

          October 29, 2004
           I. DRAFTING BILLS
GETTING STARTED: the problem


   What is the problem to be addressed?

   What are the specific goals to be achieved?
              I. DRAFTING BILLS
GETTING STARTED: Research

   What is current law in this policy area? What sections of law
    might be affected by the proposal? Does the proposal raise
    constitutional issues? Have there been legal challenges on
    similar proposals?

   Have other bills been introduced on this topic in the past? What
    has happened to them?

   What agency is affected? Are there administrative rules that
    address the proposal?

   What interest groups are affected? Are some language choices
    more contentious than other choices? What provisions will
    attract supporters or generate opposition?
             I. DRAFTING BILLS
GETTING STARTED: Solutions

   How should the goals be accomplished?

    <   Change the direction of an existing statute/program
    <   Add to an existing program
    <   Establish a new statute/agency/program
    <   Create incentives or penalties to change behavior

       How will you know if the goals are accomplished?

    <   Establish performance measures
    <   Require an evaluation

   Who should be responsible for results?
                         I. DRAFTING BILLS
  WRITING THE DRAFT:
  Constitutional Requirements
(also see Code Reviser’s bill drafting guide at http://slc.leg.wa.gov/BillDraftingGuide/RCWBDG.htm)




               One subject
               Express the subject in the title
               No amendments of law by reference
                 I. DRAFTING BILLS
    WRITING THE DRAFT: Clear and concise

      Who is required to act?

       What action is required?
              Use “shall” to create a duty to act (a person or agency is
                         identified as the actor).
               Use “may” to grant authority or discretion (when action
                        is not required).
      When is the action to occur?
               Use present tense unless a future occurrence is desired.
               Refer to specific dates or date references such as "after
                         July 1, 2005" or “beginning on the effective date of
                         this act.“
             I. DRAFTING BILLS
WRITING THE DRAFT: Conventions
   Types of bill sections
        < New sections (permanent or temporary)
        < Amendatory (changes language already in current law
        < Repealers (permanently removes entire sections of current
         law)

       Section numbering conventions

            Sec. 3
            (1)
            (a)
            (b)
            (2)
            I. DRAFTING BILLS
WRITING THE DRAFT: Organization

   List the bill's main elements

   Organize the bill’s sections:
    < Bill title (narrow or broad?)


SENATE BILL 5533 - Title
      AN ACT Relating to the hiring of school
  district employees; …
                I. DRAFTING BILLS
    WRITING THE DRAFT: Organization
    Intent section?


SENATE BILL 5533 - Section 1.
          The legislature recognizes that state law requires criminal background
    checks of applicants for school district employment. However, the legislature
    finds that, because they generally are limited to criminal conviction histories,
    results of background checks are more complete when supplemented by an
    applicant's history of past misconduct. Therefore, the legislature finds that
    additional safeguards are necessary in the hiring of school district employees
    to ensure the safety of Washington's school children. In order to provide the
    safest educational environment for children, school districts must provide
    known information regarding employees' misconduct when those employees
    attempt to transfer to different school districts.
               I. DRAFTING BILLS
WRITING THE DRAFT: organization
   Definitions (if needed)


SENATE BILL 5533 - Section 2(1) & (11)
          (1) The definitions in this subsection apply throughout this
    section unless the context clearly requires otherwise.
          (a) "Applicant" means an applicant for employment in a
    certificated or classified position who is currently or was previously
    employed by a school district.
          (b) "Employer" means a school district employer.
    ....
          (11) By September 1, 2003, the state board of education shall
    adopt rules defining "misconduct" as used in this section.
               I. DRAFTING BILLS
WRITING THE DRAFT: Organization
   Provisions making substantive changes to the law – who
    must do what when (amending current sections and/or
    adding new sections)


SENATE BILL 5533 - Section 2(2)-(5)]
          (2) Before hiring an applicant, a school district shall request the
    applicant to sign a statement:
          (a) Authorizing the applicant's current employer… to disclose to
    the hiring school district misconduct, if any, by the applicant and
    making available to the hiring school district copies of all documents
    in the applicant's personnel record maintained by that employer
    relating to that misconduct; and
           I. DRAFTING BILLS
WRITING THE DRAFT: Organization
      (b) Releasing the applicant's current employer …from any
   liability for providing information described in (a) of this
   subsection, as provided in subsection (4) of this section.

      (3) Before hiring an applicant, a school district shall request in
   writing, electronic or otherwise, at least the applicant's current
   employer…to provide the information described in subsection
   (2)(a) of this section, if any. The request shall include a copy of
   the statement signed by the applicant under subsection (2) of this
   section.

      (6) A school district shall not hire an applicant who does not sign
   the statement described in subsection (2) of this section.
                  I. DRAFTING BILLS
WRITING THE DRAFT: Organization
   Exceptions, exemptions, and limitations
SENATE BILL 5533 - Section 2(6)-(9)
            (7) School districts may employ applicants on a conditional basis pending the
    district's review of information obtained under this section.
            (8) Information received under this section shall be used by a school district only
    for the purpose of evaluating an applicant's qualifications for employment... Except as
    otherwise provided by law, a board member or employee of a school district shall not
    disclose the information to any person, other than the applicant, who is not directly
    involved in the process of evaluating the applicant's qualifications for employment. A
    person who violates this subsection is guilty of a misdemeanor.
            (9) Beginning September 1, 2003, the board or an official of a school district
    shall not enter into a collective bargaining agreement, individual employment
    contract… or any other contract or agreement that has the effect of suppressing
    information about misconduct of a present or former employee or of expunging
    information about that misconduct from personnel records. Any provision of a contract
    or agreement that is contrary to this subsection is void and unenforceable…
             I. DRAFTING BILLS
WRITING THE DRAFT: Organization

     Performance measures (to determine whether the
       legislation met its goals)?


     Expiration or review and report?


     Funding issues? (Appropriations clause)

     Effective dates or special application clauses?
            II. WRITING BILL REPORTS
PURPOSE OF BILL REPORT
              Objective, neutral, verifiable
               < Present a balanced view of the proposal
               < Reference the source of material (the statute, rule, or
  report)
               < Use opinions only if a credible expert can be cited


              Inform members and public
               < Allow legislators to know what they are voting on
               < Allow the public to know what issues are being debated
  and           the probable impact of the bill if adopted
               < Preserve legislative history
        II. WRITING BILL REPORTS
WRITING THE BACKGROUND


          Summarize current law or program relevant to
           each change described in the bill summary


          Provide other relevant facts that give context
        II. WRITING BILL REPORTS
WRITING THE BILL SUMMARY

          Summarize how the bill changes current law


          Describe by themes, not section-by-section
    Strategies for
Effective Bill Drafting
               Ask Why?


 A bill may be drafted for a number of reasons
– know the reasons for your bill before you start.
 Know what the problem is and how the
sponsor wants to solve it.
       Remember:


It is much easier to kill a
   bill than to pass one.
      Know the Opposition


 Almost all bills have opposition. Understand
the pros and cons of the issue.
 Draft to minimize opposition and to cultivate
support.
       Avoid Confusion


 Avoid unnecessary and confusing
complexity in the bill’s structure and
language.
 Every word matters - be as precise as
possible.
Consider the Consequences



 A bill can have intended and unintended
consequences – think about both.
      Protect from Attacks


 Anticipate potential legal and policy
challenges – draft the bill to insulate it from
both.
 If possible address possible challenges
explicitly.
                What’s in a Title?

   Senate Bill 5533 (first session)
      AN ACT Relating to the hiring of school district
       employees…

   Senate Bill 5533 (second session)
      AN ACT Relating to providing increased access to
       information on disciplinary actions taken against
       school employees…
                     Amendments
   NEW SECTION. Sec. 3 A new section is added to
    chapter 28A.320 RCW to read as follows:
    School districts must, at the first opportunity but in all
    cases within forty-eight hours of receiving a report
    alleging sexual misconduct by a school employee, notify
    the parents of a student alleged to be the victim, target,
    or recipient of the misconduct. School districts shall
    provide parents with information regarding their rights
    under the Washington public disclosure act, chapter
    42.17 RCW, to request the public records regarding
    school employee discipline. This information shall be
    provided to all parents on an annual basis.

				
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