Chapter 9
Practical Aids to Research and Drafting

  1. Finding Minnesota Law
    1. Laws of Minnesota
    2. Minnesota Statutes
    3. Tables
      1. Session Laws Amended or Repealed
      2. Coded Laws Amended, Repealed or New
      3. Special Law Tables
      4. Internal Cross-Reference Table
    4. Computer Searches
  2. Finding Minnesota Bills to Use as Drafting Models
    1. Comparison Tables
    2. Engrossing Files
    3. House and Senate Index and Bill Status System
    4. House and Senate Journals
  3. Finding Laws or Bills in Other States
  4. Finding General Research Materials
  5. How to Begin Drafting
    1. Photocopies or Computer Printouts
    2. Cut and Paste Drafting

1. Finding Minnesota Law

(a) Laws of Minnesota

Laws of Minnesota is published annually by the revisor of statutes approximately three months after adjournment and is often referred to as the "session laws." It contains all the acts of the legislature exactly as passed. See the explanation at the beginning of each volume for information about its use. It contains a subject index and various tables.

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(b) Minnesota Statutes

Minnesota Statutes is published biennially, about November of each even-numbered year by the revisor of statutes. It contains all laws that have been coded by the revisor-usually laws of a general and permanent nature. Volume 1 contains historical documents, the Minnesota and United States Constitutions and the University Charter. The preface contains a user's guide which explains the arrangement and numbering systems of the statutes and explains the statutory history and notes contained in the statutes. Using the guide will help you find material in the statutes quickly. The final volume of the statutes contains a subject index. A user's guide at the beginning of the index explains how to use it.

Each volume of the statutes is updated in odd-numbered years by a pocket part, cited as "Minnesota Statutes Supplement." The tables in the statutes most needed for drafting are discussed below.

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(c) Tables

Tables are completed shortly after the session by the revisor of statutes. The tables are published in the session laws, but may be available from the revisor's office in a printout before publication. The local law tables published in the session laws are incorporated into Table 1 of the statutes. The following tables may be useful to the drafter.

(1) Session laws amended or repealed.

Table 1 in the session laws is the table of uncoded session laws that have been amended or repealed. It shows all such session laws amended or repealed during the preceding legislative year. It is arranged by year. It lists amendments to laws of prior years that have not been coded (local laws, appropriations, effective date sections, and the like), and amendments to laws that are passed in the same session and coded but not yet published in Minnesota Statutes.

(2) Coded laws amended, repealed or new.

Table 2 of the session laws lists coded laws amended, repealed, or new in that volume. It shows numerically all of the coded laws amended or repealed during the session year, and also tentative coding of new laws together with the session law chapter and section derivation. This table is a basic tool for all drafters, since it is a tool for determining, between statutory publications, whether or not an existing coded law has been amended or repealed. In drafting new law between publications, check the table to be sure that proposed tentative coding has not already been allocated to another section or subdivision. The table should always be checked between publications before drafting a bill involving amendments to coded law or choosing proposed coding for a draft of a new law.

(3) Special law tables.

Table 4 in the session laws shows uncoded laws passed during the year that affect local government units. Local government units affected are shown alphabetically with a brief description of the legislation. If the law is effective upon its approval by the affected unit and the filing of the approval with the secretary of state, the table so indicates. Approval and filing dates are also shown. The local law enacted may be new law, or it may be amendatory. In drafting local legislation always check the local law tables and the cumulative local law table in the statutes.

A cumulative local law table is found in Table 1 of Minnesota Statutes. It is cumulative from 1849. The local government units are shown alphabetically, followed by a brief description, also arranged alphabetically, of the subject matter of the legislation affecting them and the session law derivation. Amendments or repeals of local laws are also noted in the table. The table may also be helpful in drafting new legislation for a particular governmental unit, since similar legislation may have already been enacted for another local governmental unit.

(4) Internal cross-reference table.

Table 4 in Minnesota Statutes is a numerical table of the sections of the statutes that are referred to by section number in other sections of the statutes. The referring sections and the subdivisions, if any, are set out opposite the referenced section. In repealing or making substantive changes to a section, it may be necessary to amend other sections that refer to it.

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(d) Computer Searches

The Office of the Revisor of Statutes maintains a computer data base of all of the material in Minnesota Statutes. This data base may be searched for specified information.

A search can find every instance in which a word or word combination is dealt with in the statutes. Combinations of words can be used to identify a subject. A computer search can be used to locate and remove or alter obsolete terms; locate different definitions of a single word; locate and change as necessary any worded references to a program, person, or provision. There are two types of searches: the "cite search," which produces a list of entries and their cites, and the "text search," which prints out the text of each reference.

For example, you might conduct a search for the term "legislature." The search would produce a list of all sections of the statutes where the term "legislature" is used.

Using multiple words in logical combinations, a search can be narrowed to a particular duty of the legislature, eliminating material that the drafter does not need. For example, with a proper combination of words used in the search, every provision of the statutes may be found that requires an appointment by the governor to be confirmed by either or both houses of the legislature.

To request a search, contact the revisor's office.

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2. Finding Minnesota Bills to Use as Drafting Models

(a) Comparison Tables

The revisor of statutes maintains a comparison table that enables the user to convert the House or Senate file number assigned the bill at introduction to the revisor's bill drafting number or vice versa. A bill drafting request specifying a particular House or Senate file may thus be easily converted to the revisor's bill drafting number and expeditiously handled. If the House or Senate file has been amended, the drafter should find out whether the requester wants the original draft or a particular engrossment or variation of the bill.

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(b) Engrossing Files

As bills are amended in the legislative process, they are returned to the revisor of statutes for engrossment. There may be several engrossments.

A bill or amendment request may specify a particular engrossment of a House or Senate file, or the file as amended by a particular committee. Files are maintained in the revisor's office on all engrossments until after the end of the biennium. Engrossments for the current biennium may also be obtained from the chief clerk of the House or the secretary of the Senate. The Legislative Reference Library retains engrossments for a period.

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(c) House and Senate Index and Bill Status System

The Minnesota Legislative Information System (MLIS) developed by the House and Senate and the Revisor provides a rapid means of determining the status of any bill file introduced during the current session. It may also be used to check if bills similar to a bill request have been drafted and introduced. Bills are indexed by House file or Senate file number, topic, author, and committee. The system also contains an author/topic cross index and a statutory reference index. The system displays the number of all files which, as introduced, amend a specific section of Minnesota Statutes, the session laws, and the constitution. Terminals are available in many legislative offices, the legislative reference library, and the revisor's office.

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(d) House and Senate Journals

The House and Senate journals contain the day-by-day floor action of the House and the Senate.

The Senate journal contains a numerical index by House file or Senate file number at the back of each day's publication.

The House and Senate journals' cumulative indexes contain the same information as House and Senate index systems. An unofficial index is available in the fall or early winter after the first year of the session. The official index is published after the end of the two-year session. The index contains a numerical index by House file or Senate file number, a subject index of all bills introduced under broad topics, author index, and companion bill comparison table. The Senate journal also includes a miscellaneous section.

After you obtain a House file or Senate file number from the journal, ask the Legislative Reference Library for a copy of the bill. It maintains House and Senate bills since 1957.

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3. Finding Laws or Bills in Other States

Issues of concern to Minnesotans are often issues of concern to other states as well, so do not hesitate to borrow from statutes or bills of other states. Three helpful organizations in locating statutes or bills from other states are:

(1) Council of State Governments.

Council of State Governments, National Headquarters, Iron Works Pike, P.O. Box 11910, Lexington, Kentucky 40578, 606-252-2291; (Midwestern Office), 203 N. Wabash, Chicago, Illinois 60601, 312-236-4011

The Council of State Governments is a joint organization of all the state governments. It researches and publishes pamphlets on state programs and problems. It provides an information service for the states, legislators, and staffs. Finally it issues several useful publications. Among the most helpful are an annual volume containing model drafts of suggested state legislation (it contains a cumulative index), a monthly publication containing information on the current activities of the states, and a quarterly journal containing discussion of selected governmental problems and solutions. The council also publishes research pamphlets on issues of concern to the states.

(2) National Conference of State Legislatures.

National Conference of State Legislatures, 1125 Seventeenth Street, Suite 1500 Denver, Colorado 80202, 303-623-6600

The National Conference of State Legislatures collects information of importance to the states, writes guides and manuals on various state issues, and drafts model legislation. It also provides a research staff to assist in research of government employees. The conference also publishes the magazine "State Legislatures" which contains articles on current issues, collects data, and summarizes actions of the states.

(3) Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (ACIR).

Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (ACIR), 1111 - 20th Street Northwest, Washington, D.C. 20575, 202-653-5536.

The Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations is most helpful if the bill request affects state/federal programs or raises the issues of federalism of federal preemption. This organization is a national bipartisan body representing the executive and legislative branches of federal, state, and local governments. The organization researches and formulates policy positions on selected issues and suggests solutions. It also drafts model legislation.

The state law library's collection contains the statutes of all 50 states.

Copies of bills may be obtained from the state office which corresponds to the revisor's office or secretary of the Senate or chief clerk's office in Minnesota. The Council of State Governments publishes a directory of state offices in the 50 states.

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4. Finding General Research Materials

The Legislative Reference Library (LRL) is directed by statute to collect, index, and disseminate information of interest to the legislature and its staff. The library contains over 30,000 books and pamphlets, 500 active periodical subscriptions, and 31 newspaper subscriptions. It is part of the state university system's on-line catalog (PALS), and maintains an on-line computer search service using three computer data base services. Together the three data bases search over 150 data bases of governments, industries, and universities and provide journal articles, books, reports, proceedings, and government documents and data. The search service can also be used to obtain extensive bibliographies.

The library maintains a Minnesota associations and organizations file containing, where possible, statements of the purposes, programs, and offices of the organizations.

The library is the depository for state government publications, including consultants reports. The LRL checklist indexes these publications. The library publishes LRL Resources, a monthly listing of newly acquired books and pamphlets, and occasional topical bibliographies called Topics in the News. The library's selective information services provide notification to patrons of new materials in their areas of interest. Ongoing distribution of contents pages of recently received periodicals is also available. (Contact the library for more information.) The library also maintains:

(1) Newspaper clippings by subject, by district, by state agency, or by individual's name: 1969 to date.

(2) Minnesota government publications: 1974 to date.

(3) Speech materials: quotes or examples.

(4) Legal materials: USCA, MSA, Minnesota and federal rules and regulations, uniform laws.

(5) Mandated reports to the Legislature.

(6) Minnesota documents on microfiche: some from 1940-1973, most 1974 to date.

(7) Legislative Manuals: 1887 to date; House and Senate journals.

(8) Bills introduced: House and Senate since 1957.

(9) Senate and House Committee Books: Call for details.

(10) Tape recordings of floor and committee debate: Call for details.

The legislative reference librarians can direct you to the indexes, bibliographies, and directories which will provide you with experts or documents needed for your research. The librarians are also familiar with and can direct you to the collections of other libraries, and individual experts both private and public.

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5. How to Begin Drafting

In drafting a bill requiring amendments to existing law, use a photocopy of the law and mark the desired changes on the copy. If the existing law is coded in the statutes, always copy from the latest edition of the statutes (or the supplement). If the law has been amended since the last edition and the data base has been updated to include the latest amendments, use a computer printout for drafting. The revisor's office will furnish the printout. If the computer data base has not been updated and there are amendments made since the latest edition, photocopy the session law or laws amending the particular law to be again amended, and fit the new amendments into that copy. To learn whether or not changes have been made in coded sections, use Table 2 of the session laws.

In amending uncoded law, use a photocopy of the session law, making sure to use the latest amended version of the law. Check the local law tables to determine if the local law has been amended.

Use of photocopies or computer printouts reduces errors, permits rapid identification of coded law on the computer terminals, and permits proofreading of local laws without the cumbersome session law book.

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