« ZurückWeiter »
number of the revision bills prepared by the commission have not been acted on by the legislature, partly owing to the fact that a great deal of new law is contained in them and the legislature is unwilling to accept them without careful examination. Much dissatisfaction having arisen with the slow progress of the work and with the proposed method of revising the code of civil procedure, the commission was abolished and the question of revision referred to a joint committee. The committee is making a careful examination of the subject and will report to the legislature
In 1896 South Carolina created the office of code commissioner. The commissioner is elected by the legislature for ten years and must prepare a complete revision of the general statutes and the code of civil procedure in 1901 and every ten years thereafter. He receives a salary of $400 a year.
During 1900 official compilations of statutes were issued by Missouri, Nevada, North Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming and unofficial compilations were issued for Illinois, Kansas and North Carolina.
Drafting of Bills.--In 1893 it was made the duty of the New York Statutory Revision Commission, just referred to,
on request of either house of the legislature, or of any committee, member or officer thereof, to draft or revise bills, to render opinions as to the constitutionality, consistency or other legal effect of proposed legislation, and to report by bill such measures as they deem expedient. The services of the commission have been made use of to a very considerable extent in the drafting of bills. For the session of 1899 the commission reports that it prepared about five hundred bills at the request of members of the legislature, besides examining and rewriting a large number originally prepared elsewhere. With the abolition of the commission IN. Y., 1900, ch. 664. 2 S. C., 1896, ch. 1. * N. Y., 1893, ch. 24, 6 2.
during the past year there is as yet no statutory provision for the performance of this most important and useful work, but it is understood that three of the assistants on the former commission will be retained by the legislature of 1901 to continue it. For the drafting of bills special technical knowledge, that can only be acquired by much practice, is essential. Each bill must be adjusted to an existing intricate system, and its object must be expressed concisely, clearly and with legal precision. It is, moreover, highly important, for clearness and ease of construction, that all acts passed should be alike as to form. Great Britain and many of the British colonies and provinces have official draftsmen, who draft most of the bills at the request of members.
Besides New York, South Carolina is the only state in the Union that has provided any similar authority. In the latter state at the session of 1868, immediately after the adoption of a new constitution, an act was passed requiring the attorney-general, when requested by either branch of the general assembly, to attend during their sessions and give his aid and advice in the arrangement and preparation of legislative documents and business. In 1880 the attorney-general was authorized to require the assistance during legislative sessions of the state solicitors in the eight judicial districts of the state. They must, under the direction of the attorney-general, supervise the engrossing and enrolling of bills passed and assist the attorney-general in the drafting of bills, and in other work connected with the session. They receive the same per diem as do members of the legislature. In 1900 Massachusetts provided that the attorney-general shall, on request, give advice to legislative committees as to the legal effect of proposed measures."
Uniform Legislation.-In 1890 New York created a uniform legislation commission, and at present similar commissions exist in thirty-two states and territories. In 1896 the national conference of state commissioners on uniform legislation recommended for adoption by the various states a general act relating to negotiable instruments. This act has now been adopted by fifteen states and the District of Columbia, but none of these were added to the list in 1900.
1S. C., Statutes at Large, V. 14, No. 2. 3 Id., V. 17, No. 249. • Mass., 1900, ch. 373.
The national conference, held at Saratoga Springs in August, 1900, recommended the adoption by the various states of a uniform law relative to divorce procedure. The proposed law provides that no divorce shall be granted for any cause, arising prior to the residence of the complainant or defendant in the state, which was not a ground for divorce in the state where the cause arose; that no person shall be entitled to a divorce for any cause arising in the state, who has not been an actual resident of the state for one year, or for any cause arising out of the state unless the complainant or defendant has resided in the state for two years. Service of notice on defendant is provided for with special care. No divorce is to be granted solely on default, or solely on admissions by the pleadings, or except on hearing before the court in open session. After divorce either party may marry again, but in cases where notice has been given by publication only and the defendant has not appeared, no decree for divorce becomes final till six months after the decision. The purpose of the proposed law is first, to do away with migratory divorces; second, to prevent the granting of speedy decrees against absent defendants who may be ignorant of any suit pending; and third, to do away with the interstate confusion arising from some few states forbidding re-marriage while a great majority of the states permit it.
Lobbying-Massachusetts, Wisconsin and Maryland have attempted to secure publicity relative to lobbying. The Massachusetts act, after which the acts of the other two states are closely modeled, was passed in 1890 and amended in 1891, 1895 and 1896.' The following is a summary of the original act:
1 Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina. North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Viginia, Washington, Wisconsin.
Every person, private or public corporation or association employing any person to promote or oppose directly or indirectly the passage of any legislation, shall cause the name of the person so employed to be entered on a legislative docket. Two such dockets must be kept by the sergeant-atarms, one for legislative counsel and the other for legislative agents. In the docket for legislative counsel must be entered the names of counsel employed to appear at a public hearing before a committee, and any regular legal counsel of corporations or associations who act or advise in relation to legislation. In the docket for legislative agents must be entered the names of all other agents employed in connection with any legislation. In these dockets must also be entered the names of all employers of counsel or agents, the date of employment, the length of time that it is to continue and the special subject or subjects of legislation to which the employment relates. No person may be employed as a legislative counsel or agent for a compensation dependent in any manner on the passage or defeat of any proposed legislation or on any other contingency connected with the acts of the legislature. Within thirty days of the closing of the session every person, private or public corporation or association whose name appears on the legislative dockets as employing legislative counsel or agents, must render to the secretary of the commonwealth a complete and detailed sworn statement of all expense incurred in connection with the employment of legislative counsel or agents, or in connection with promoting or opposing legislation in any manner. Such reports when filed are open to public inspection. Violation of any provision of the act is punished by a fine of from $100 to $1,000. The employment by a city or town of its solicitor to represent it before the legislature or any
1 Mass., 1890, ch. 456; 1891, ch. 223; 1895, ch. 410; 1896, ch. 342.
its committees, is expressly exempted from the provisions of the act. The act was amended in 1895 and 1896 so as to require counsel and agents to file a written authorization from the person or corporation by whom they are employed.
The Wisconsin act was passed in 1899. It applies to persons, corporations or associations, and specially exempts municipalities and other public corporations. With this exception the act substantially follows that of Massachusetts. The Maryland act was passed in 1900 and like that of Wisconsin follows very closely that of Massachusetts.' It however contains an entirely new clause providing that the governor, whenever any bill is presented for his approval and he has reason to believe that in connection with its passage improper expenses have been incurred, may require any or all legislative counsel and agents and their employers to render a complete and detailed sworn statement of all expenses incurred.
In 1897 Tennessee passed an act declaring lobbying a felony and defining it as personal solicitation of any kind not addressed solely to the judgment.' In the same year West Virginia prohibited lobbying on the floor of either house while the legislature is in session."
Constitutions.- New Hampshire and Virginia have voted to hold constitutional conventions. The present constitution of New Hampshire was adopted in 1792 and has since been amended but three times. In 1851 a constitutional convention proposed three amendments, one of which was accepted by the people; the convention of 1876 proposed thirteen amendments, all but two of which were adopted; the last convention held in 1889 proposed seven amendments, five of which were adopted. In Virginia an extra session of the legislature convened January 23, 1901, to provide for elect1 Wis., 1899, ch. 243.
Md., 1900, ch. 328. 8 Tenn., 1897, ch. 117. 4 W. Va., 1897, ch. 14.