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 …”