Writing Your Bill
Make sure you cover the basics:
- Who will this law affect and how?
- Which specific agency will administer or monitor this law?
- What will have to be created for the law to take effect?
- What are the consequences if someone does not obey this law?
- How much, if anything, will this cost? Where will the funds come from?
- Is your bill Constitutional?
Things to Keep in Mind
- Definitions –define technical words at the start of the Body of the Bill.
- Tense & Mood – use the present tense and indicative mood.
- Grammar & Sentence Structure – use simple, short sentences. Clarity is essential. Proofread!
- Choice of Words & Phrases – select short, familiar words that best express your ideas. Exercise brevity!
- In legislation, the word “shall” is a legal construction, which translates to must.
- Numbers, Sums, Dates, etc.
- Numbers less than 10 are expressed in words. Numbers beginning a sentence are also expressed in words. Fractions with whole numbers less than 10 are expressed in words.
- Monetary Sums – one cent, 10 cents, $3, $3.65, $125, $2,000, $4 million, or $5,504,282.
- Dates – June 1993, June 19, 1984, June and July 1995, January 14, June 29 to July 5, 1987, 10-month period, five-day grace period.
- Limitations – you must state the scope and limits of the Bill. Be clear and concise on what the bill is to do and what its purpose is.
- Punishments for Criminal Acts – minimum and maximum sentences are required. Use the phrase “the offender will be subject to imprisonment by the Department of Corrections for a time …”