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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

How an idea becomes a bill

Posted by on Wed, Nov 19, 2008 at 11:01 AM

While not exactly dishy, Gerry Cohen's blog Drafting Musings is an interesting window onto Jones Street. Today, the North Carolina General Assembly's director of bill drafting presents an explanation of how the process works.

Notable: 884 bills became law in the 2007-2008 session, out of nearly 5,700 requests made of the 15-member bill drafting department.

The initial request that comes in the door may be just a fleeting idea, an issue paper, an article from from the popular press or an academic journal, a constituent inquiry, a request from a lobbyist on behalf of a client, or perhaps just the idea that propelled the member to run for office. [...] Or, heaven forbid Franklin, something from the Governor’s office! Many requests also come from local governments, as North Carolina has granted cities and counties only limited home rule.

It's up to the bill drafter to vet the request to see if it's constitutional. The staffer may have gotten a similar request from another member, or may have written another version of the same bill just last year. But he or she must tread carefully when sharing that information, Cohen says. "Remember, not only the content of the request but even its existence is confidential under a specific attorney-client exemption to the Public Records Act."

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