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  1. #1
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    Default How To Read A Bill

    While reviewing the recent passing of 1845, and exactly what all that will mean when it takes effect, I found myself unclear on some of the conventions used to denote changes as the bill evolved. I found this helpful document, and thought it might be useful for others too.

    http://www.legis.state.pa.us/WU01/LI/BI/how_to_read.htm
    EXPLANATION TO FACILITATE READING
    OF LEGISLATIVE BILLS

    [Light face brackets] are used only in bills amending an existing law. They indicate that anything enclosed thereby appears in the existing law, but that it is proposed to omit it from the law as amended. The brackets and anything enclosed by them are carried along into the pamphlet law version of the bill, if the bill is finally enacted; thus, the reader of the pamphlet law can tell the exact date that the bracketed material was removed from Pennsylvania law.

    Underscoring is used only in bills amending an existing law. It indicates that the underscored matter does not appear in the existing law, but that it is proposed to insert it in the law as amended. The underscored matter will be carried into the law if the bill is finally enacted.

    Ellipses (* * *) are used only in bills amending an existing law. They indicate omitted law which is not proposed to be changed in the bill.

    [Dark] face brackets are used only in bills that have been amended, either in committee or on the floor of either House. They indicate brackets inserted by such amendment and have the same effect as light face brackets.

    Strike out type is used only in bills that have been amended either in committee or on the floor of either House. They indicate that anything so printed appeared in a previous print of the bill but is to be deleted, and will not appear in the text of the law if the bill is finally enacted.

    CAPITAL LETTERS are used only in bills that have been amended, either in committee or on the floor of either House. They indicate that the matter in capital letters did not appear in the original print of the bill, but was inserted into the bill by amendment in either House. The matter in capital letters will be carried into the law, if the bill is finally enacted in ordinary print, unless it is also underscored, in which case it will be printed in italics.

    Strike out type and CAPITAL LETTERS indicate only the amendments made to the bill at the last previous state of passage. All prior strike out amendments are dropped entirely from the new print and all insert amendments previously shown in CAPITAL LETTERS are reset in lower case type. The one exception to this rule is a House bill amended more than once in the Senate or a Senate bill amended more than once in the House will, on the second and subsequent printings cumulate all amendments made in the latter House, so that all amendments in which concurrence by the House of origin is required will stand out.

    The line immediately preceding the title of the bill shows the stage of passage at which the amendments appearing on that print were made. All preceding printer's numbers of each bill are shown in consecutive order in a line at the top of the first page of each bill.
    Last edited by gnbrotz; November 1st, 2008 at 02:42 PM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: How To Read A Bill

    imho, this should be a sticky...this information will always be very useful and always serve as a valuable reference.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: How To Read A Bill

    Quote Originally Posted by LittleRedToyota View Post
    imho, this should be a sticky...this information will always be very useful and always serve as a valuable reference.
    I agree, but in the interest of not being 'self-serving', I figured I'd let someone else do it if they agreed too.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: How To Read A Bill

    I agree with making this a sticky!

    ETA: That is some good info.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: How To Read A Bill

    I would like to add two tips which may be helpful when reading a bill or statute.

    1. If the text is a bit confusing try reading the sentence backwards. Start at the period and read to its beginning.

    2. Always check the word definitions used in a particular bill or statute, as the words may be used in a different way than in normal usage. Often, the statute will have a chapter of its text called "definitions" where words used are defined as they apply specifically in that particular bill. Always check the definitions, as this is a technique used to obfuscate the true meaning of the text being read.

    I hope this helps.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: How To Read A Bill

    Great info... thanks for the post

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