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The essentials of good bill drafting are accuracy, brevity, clarity, and simplicity. The purpose and effect of a legislative measure should be evident from its language. Choose words that are plain and commonly understood (Article 4, Section 20 of the Constitution of the State of Indiana).
When drafting legislation, a drafter should consider constitutional (both federal and state) restrictions on legislative measures. In addition, the drafter should be aware of statutory rules for drafting and construction of statutes.
The following is a list of commonly referred to provisions:
ARTICLE 1 - BILL OF RIGHTS
ARTICLE 2 - SUFFRAGE AND ELECTION
ARTICLE 3 - SEPARATION OF POWERS
ARTICLE 4 - LEGISLATIVE
ARTICLE 5 - EXECUTIVE
ARTICLE 8 - EDUCATION
ARTICLE 10 - FINANCE
ARTICLE 11 - CORPORATIONS
ARTICLE 13 - INDEBTEDNESS
ARTICLE 15 - MISCELLANEOUS
IC 1 - GENERAL PROVISIONS
IC 4 - STATE OFFICES AND ADMINISTRATION
Use short, simple sentences. Avoid excessive use of dependent clauses, parallel clauses, compound sentences, and other complex sentence structures.
Unless it is clear from the context, use as the subject of each sentence the person or entity to whom a power, right, or privilege is granted or upon whom a duty, obligation, or prohibition is imposed.
Use the present tense. However, when it is necessary to express a time relationship (such as when there is a condition precedent to the operation of the law), state the facts that are concurrent with the operation of the law as present facts and the facts precedent to its operation as past facts.
Example: If a person has finished the training, the person may . . .
When the future tense is appropriate, use "will".
Example: If the director determines that the computer system will cause problems, the director shall . . .
Use the indicative mood.
Use the active voice whenever possible.
In rare instances the passive voice may be used, such as when the subject of the sentence is the focus of some action to be implicitly taken by another person who is not mentioned in the sentence.
Example: A person who commits a Class D felony shall be imprisoned.
Use the singular instead of the plural, since singular words apply to several persons or things as well as to one person or thing.
To the extent possible, avoid words importing gender.
Be consistent in the use of language throughout the legislative measure. Do not use the same word or phrase to convey different meanings. Do not use different language to convey the same meaning.
Be consistent in the arrangement of comparable provisions. Arrange sections containing similar material in the same way.
Omit unnecessary words.
If a word has the same meaning as a phrase, use the word.
Use the shortest sentence that conveys the intended meaning.
[From: Dickerson, F.R., Legal Drafting, West Publishing Company (1981), p.182]
Avoid false imperatives. Avoid using hortatory qualifiers such as "will", "should", and "ought" in the text of a legislative measure.
"And" usually stands for the conjunctive, connective, or additive; "or" for the disjunctive or alternative. An ambiguity occurs where it is not clear whether the inclusive "or" (A or B, or both) or the exclusive "or" (A or B, but not both) is intended. It is also not always clear whether the several "and" (A and B, jointly or severally) or the joint "and" (A and B, jointly but not severally) is intended. To avoid this ambiguity, say the following as appropriate:
Use the articles "a", "an", and "the" instead of the words "such" or "said". It is appropriate to use "such" to express an example.
Example: The commission may take steps to provide compliance, such as ordering the applicant to submit a verified statement.
Also, do not use "any", "each", "every", "all", or "some" if "a", "an", or "the" can be used with the same result.
Use "which" and a comma to introduce a nonrestrictive clause. A nonrestrictive clause is a clause that is not needed to clarify the meaning of the word that it modifies.
Example: The application, which need not be verified, must be signed by the applicant.
Use "that" to introduce a restrictive clause modifying the nearest antecedent. A restrictive clause is a clause that is needed to make clear the meaning of the word that it modifies.
Example: An application to renew a license that has been revoked must be signed by the applicant.
Limitations or exceptions to the coverage of the legislative measure or conditions placed on its application should be described in the first part of the legislative measure--i.e. at the beginning of the title, article, chapter, section, or noncode provision [see Bills, Page 22]. If they are numerous, notice of their existence should be given in the first part of the legislative measure, and they should be stated separately later in the legislative measure.
If a provision is limited in its application or is subject to an exception or condition, it generally promotes clarity to begin the provision with a statement of the limitation, exception, or condition or with a notice of its existence. Avoid using "notwithstanding" to express a limitation of a general provision of the same legislative measure.
Sec. 1. (a) Except as provided in subsection (b), . . .
(b) Notwithstanding subsection (a), . . .
"If", "when", and "whenever" are expressions of limitation or condition. If the condition is limited by a single occurrence that may never occur, use "if" to introduce the condition.
Example: If the mayor resigns from office, the deputy mayor assumes the duties of the office.
If the condition will occur more than once, introduce the condition with "whenever".
Example: Whenever the operator answers a call, the operator shall . . .
If the condition is certain to occur, use "when".
Example: When the statute takes effect, the governor shall . . .
Do not use "provided that", "provided however that", or similar proviso language. Use "but" instead of "except that".
Use short sections. Use a separate section for each separate topic.
For paragraph divisions of a section (called subsections), use "(a)", "(b)", "(c)", etc. All paragraphs, whether in new or existing provisions, must be designated. When drafting a new section or when adding new subsections to an existing section, do not create more than eight subsections, because if there are that many ideas, they are probably best expressed in separate sections and because the ninth subsection "(i)" is easily confused with the division known as "item (i)".
Do not use divisions below items, because a separate sentence should probably be used in that case.
1. When designating divisions in a section that has subsections, use the following style (in the left hand margin is a description of the different levels of tabulation shown):
2. When designating divisions in a section that has no subsections, use the following style:
Subdivision))))))))),(1) ...................................... ......................................................;
Within a section, renumber or reletter an already designated provision of that section only if:
The purpose of tabulation is to break down the elements of a sentence into readily identifiable components as an aid to understanding. Break a sentence into its parts and present them in tabular form only if this makes the meaning substantially clearer. There are two basic types of tabulation, listing and sentence. It is important to remember, however, that no matter which style is used, the introductory language preceding the tabulated material must apply to all of the elements because those elements are a part of the whole thought.
Often it is possible to use either style of tabulation. Use the style that works best within the context.
Avoid beginning a new sentence after a tabulation. If the sentence is not a part of the tabulated series, it is better practice to draft it as a separate subsection or section.Listing Style
The first style of tabulation is known as a listing. As the name implies, each element is listed after the introductory clause and begins with a capital letter and ends with a period. When a listing is used, the introductory language must include the words "as follows" or "the following".
Sec. 1. The application must include the following information:
Each listed element can have subelements, but each element must end with a period even if it has subelements.
The second style of tabulation is known as sentence style. This style is best envisioned by thinking of a sentence with a series of elements where each element is given a line of its own, where each element has some type of designation before it, and where the commas are replaced with semicolons. Use the following sentence for an example: "To be entitled to vote, a person must be a resident of Indiana, at least eighteen (18) years of age, and registered with the county election board.". When this sentence is tabulated as follows, it is easier for the reader to quickly identify the three qualifying elements:
Sec. 1. To be entitled to vote, a person must be:
Note that the conjunction always follows the next to last element in the tabulation, and that the only permissible conjunctions are "and" or "or". The conjunction, however, applies to each element in the tabulation and not just to the last two elements.
This style of tabulation can be expanded with each of the elements having subelements.
Listings Without Numbering or Lettering
The numbering or lettering of a listing of elements when using listing style is not required when:
Sec. 2. The following drugs are controlled substances:
Sec. 1. The following agencies are not abolished:
Department of administration (IC 4-13-1-2 )
Legislative council (IC 2-5-1.1-1)
Regional planning commissions (IC 36-7-7).
A variation of the listing style of tabulation is the style of tabulation used when writing formulas. The style is the same as the listing style except that the word "STEP" followed by the appropriate numeral written out in capital letters is substituted as the first division. This style is most frequently used for tax, school finance, and mathematical computations.
Sec. 2. The amount of credit a taxpayer is entitled to under this chapter is etermined in STEP FIVE of the following formula:
STEP ONE: Add:
STEP TWO: Subtract five hundred dollars ($500) from the sum determined under STEP ONE.
STEP THREE: Multiply the remainder determined under STEP TWO by two (2).
STEP FOUR: Divide the product determined under STEP THREE by three (3).
STEP FIVE: Determine the lesser of the following:
As a general rule, capitalization should be used sparingly.
Do capitalize the following:
Do not capitalize the following:
Avoid parentheses except when they are more reliable than commas in setting off a phrase where there is possible uncertainty as to how the ideas that follow the phrase are linked to the ideas that precede it.<
strong>Example: When it is necessary to order individuals to active duty (other than for training) without their consent, . . . [See Dickerson, F. Reed, Legislative Drafting, West Publishing Company (1981), p.71]
Parentheses may also be used if necessary to make clear a reference to another statutory provision by indicating the nature of the referenced provision.
Example: IC 35-42-3-2 (kidnapping)
Parentheses should be used to set off an internal reference to the citation where a term is defined.
Do not use brackets as punctuation.
The possessive case of a singular or plural noun not ending in "s" is formed by adding an apostrophe and "s".
Examples: attorney's fees; children's hospital; man's; women's; worker's compensation
Although the possessive case of a singular noun ending in "s" or with an "s" sound is formed by adding an apostrophe and "s", this situation should be avoided by redrafting the language.
Example: tires of the bus (NOT bus's tires)
The possessive case of a plural noun ending in "s" or with an "s" sound is formed by adding an apostrophe.
Example: public employees' retirement fund
An apostrophe should not be used after the names of countries and other organized bodies ending in "s" or after words more descriptive than possessive.
Example: department of veterans affairs; prosecuting attorneys council
In compound nouns, the "'s" or "s'" is added to the element nearest the object possessed.
Examples: attorney general's appointments; secretary of state's agenda; soldiers and sailors' home
Generally, only use semicolons in the sentence style of tabulation.
A school corporation may grant a teacher, on written request, a sabbatical for improvement of professional skills through:
Use a colon to introduce a series.
Example: THE FOLLOWING ARE REPEALED: IC 17; IC 18; IC 19.
Use a colon to introduce a long quotation.
Quotation marks should be used only to enclose defined words or phrases. Commas, periods, and question marks should be placed outside the quotation marks unless the punctuation is included as part of the quoted material. Commas are also placed outside quotation marks when in the middle of a sentence.
As used in this section, "ad valorem tax" means . . .
"Revenue bonds", as used in this subsection, refers to bonds issued under IC 36-9-31-10.
Avoid hyphens, because many words that once were hyphenated are now written as one word or as two words without a hyphen. It is easier to perform computer searches if hyphens are not used.
Examples: statewide attorney general reelect lieutenant governor bipartisan vice president cooperate
Integers, dollar amounts, percentages, and fractions (except dates, times, and numbers within the text of a bill digest or a resolution) should be expressed in words followed by figures in parentheses. Style policy is less restrictive for the digest and resolutions, and journalistic style normally should be followed.
Style for Numbers Expressed in Words
Numbers may be expressed in figures if length would prohibit expressing them in both words and figures, especially in tables.
Percentages are preferred to fractions whenever practicable.
Compound fractions should be expressed as follows:
Decimals are preferred whenever practicable.
Express ordinals in words only.
Examples: first (NOT 1st); twenty-second (NOT 22nd)
Use of "One"
When "one" is used as a pronoun, it should not be followed by a numeral in parentheses.
Example:He was the only one to attend the meeting.
However, when "one" is used as a number, it should be followed by a numeral in parentheses.
Example: The precinct shall nominate one (1) delegate.
When a date includes month, day, and year, the year is set off by commas, but when the date includes only the month and year, no comma is used.
Generally, time should be expressed in figures. Avoid using terms such as "local time" and "prevailing local time", and avoid referring to time zones, since IC 1-1-8.1 and federal law define official time. It is not necessary to use "midnight" as the expiration time for a term or license since these will automatically expire at midnight unless some other time is indicated.
Examples: 6 a.m.; 4:30 p.m.; midnight (NOT 12:00 midnight); noon (NOT 12:00 noon)
Monetary amounts should be expressed as written words followed by a dollar sign and figures in parentheses. Dollar amounts that are whole do not need decimal points and zeroes.
When using dollars and cents, use the word "and" and decimal points to separate dollars and cents.
Use the STEP method rather than numerators and denominators [see Formulas, Page 14].
Use "at least", "less than", and "years of age" when referring to age.
Example: An applicant must be at least fifteen (15) years of age but less than eighteen (18) years of age.
Example: A person who is at least sixty-five (65) years of age is entitled to a pension.
When referring to the state fiscal year, use "beginning July 1" and "ending June 30" (See IC 4-1-1-1).
Example: The appropriation covers the state fiscal year beginning July 1, 2000, and ending June 30, 2001.
(28) Indiana; State
Do not use "the state of Indiana". Use "Indiana" when referring to the geographic entity.
Example: resident of Indiana
Use "state" when referring to the political entity.
Example: departments of state government; real property owned by the state
THE DAILY SCHEDULE
The Indiana Code is organized by Title, Article, Chapter, and Section. Enter the numbers of the code cite you would like to view in the corresponding boxes.
(Only the Title Box must be filled).