Excerpt from Sixteenth Biennial Report of the State Librarian of the State of Kansas: Embracing the Period From the 1st Day of July, 1907, to the 30th Day of June, 1908
If deemed advisable the legislative reference department can be so elaborated as to provide expert assistance in the preparation of bills, comparing them with the laws of other states and passing upon their merits as public measures in a legal and technical way. This method has already been adopted in some of the older states like New York and Wisconsin. It may not be necessary in the smaller states. The librarians of the country are not agreed as to the feasibility or justice of such a censorship of legislation, many of them claiming that it should not be the province of a library to suggest or originate legislation, but that its function should be limited to providing reliable information - all that can be obtained - for the guidance of those who are entrusted with the duty of making and interpreting laws for the government of the people. On the other hand, it is pointed out that one feature of American legislation about which we are most criticized is the crude and ir responsible manner in which bills are prepared and submitted to our legislative bodies, and the haste with which they are enacted into laws. Nearly every member comes up to the capital with a bill or two in his pocket, framed generally without reference to existing laws. It has been said that anybody can draw a bill, and that he usually does draw one. It may strain every cable hav ing its anchorage in the constitution, but that does not matter, and while intended for some definite purpose may be very indefinite and. Ambiguous in stating it, hence requiring endless construo tion by the courts and causing delay and expense to the parties affected by it.
Mr. Bryce, in his American Commonwealth, mentions this fault, and contrasts with it the English system: In England, govern ment bills are prepared by the official government draftsmen, two eminent lawyers, with several assistants, who constitute an office for this purpose. The result is that the bills are properly pre pared, and the English statutes are models for clearness. By way of criticism Mr. Bryce says: Here there does not exist, either among the executive departments, or in connection with Congress, any legal office charged with the duty of preparing bills, or of see ing that the form in which they pass is technically satisfactory.
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