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Bill Drafting and Prefiling of Bills

From Chapter III of the 2013 Legislative Manual:
 
     

Bill Drafting

Before starting its journey through the Legislature, each piece of proposed legislation must be drafted in suitable form and terminology. Under law, this function for the Nevada Legislature is performed by bill drafters employed by the Legislative Counsel. The Legislative Counsel and bill drafting staff provide legal services at no charge for all legislators, regardless of political party. The service is confidential, and contents of proposed legislation will not be divulged to anyone without the express consent of the sponsor or sponsors.

After obtaining the facts and objectives from a sponsor, the bill drafter must translate the information into proper legal terminology, form, and style. The bill must be coherent, concise, understandable, and free of ambiguity; it must be checked for conformance with the U.S. Constitution and the Nevada Constitution; court decisions relevant to the legislation must be checked; and the Nevada statutes must be studied to ascertain whether there are conflicts. To the extent practicable, the Legislative Counsel shall cause each bill or joint resolution introduced in the Legislature to include a digest. The digest must be printed on the bill immediately following the title of the bill.

In addition, the bill drafter must check the measure for compliance with the provision in the Nevada Constitution that requires that each law enacted by the Legislature must be limited to one subject area.

The Legislative Counsel, insofar as it is possible, processes legislators' bill drafting requests in the order in which they are received. However, legislators may designate different drafting priorities for their own bills and resolutions.

In addition to drafting bills for legislators, the Legislative Counsel also prepares bills for the Executive Branch when authorized by the Governor or a designated staff member. The Legislative Counsel also prepares legislative measures requested by the Supreme Court. Authorization for bill drafts on behalf of State constitutional officers, local governments, school districts, and other groups are also specified in statute. Appendices A and B provide a general overview of the statutory limitations and deadlines for bill draft requests (BDRs).

After November 1 of the year preceding the next regular session, full priority is given to legislative members' requests for bill drafting, and the Legislative Counsel is not permitted to prepare any proposed legislation during any regular session of the Legislature except as authorized by statute or joint rule of the Legislature. On July 1 of the year preceding the next regular session (and each week thereafter until adjournment of the Legislature), the Legislative Counsel prepares a list of all requests received for the preparation of measures to be submitted to the Legislature. The BDR list is available to the public in booklet form and on the Nevada Legislature's website (http://www.leg.state.nv.us/).

Prefiling of Bills

A majority of states, including Nevada, authorize the prefiling of bills. Prefiling allows drafted bills and joint resolutions, upon the approval of the primary sponsor, to be numbered, printed and made available for public review, and scheduled for hearing before the start of session. On the first day of session, these measures are formally introduced and referred to committee. Prefiled bills and resolutions could be heard in committee as early as the second or third day of session. The process of prefiling is designed to help expedite the review of a significant number of bills early in the session.

The statutory provisions regarding prefiling are generally found in NRS 218D.575 through NRS 218D.585. Legislation passed in 2007 provides that all requests for measures submitted by certain nonlegislative entities (including local governments, the Executive Branch, and the Supreme Court) must be prefiled by December 20 preceding a legislative session or they will be deemed withdrawn.

     


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Last updated 1/28/2013


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