Friday, April 18, 2014

Who Makes Model Laws?

You've heard of the Uniform Commercial Code and the Model Penal Code, but how much do you know about model laws? You could learn more by reading this short article: Mary Whisner, There Oughta Be a Law—a Model Law, 106 Law Libr. J. 125 (2014). Here's an abstract:
Model legislation can be proposed by anyone, from large organizations with layers of process (like the Uniform Law Commission and the American Law Institute) to individuals. Awareness of model laws is important for drafters and also for advocates, as they try to influence legislation or to interpret it once it has been enacted. In this article, I discuss the sources of model laws in both senses of "source" - the drafters and the research tools.

I begin with the Uniform Law Commission, the American Law Institute, and the American Bar Association: organizations that are familiar to many legal researchers. But I also discuss less familiar sources of model laws. For example, I had never heard of the Specialty Equipment Market Association, but twenty-two states have adopted its model law for registration of custom cars and hot rods. That group has only a few model laws in a very narrow field. In contrast, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a group of conservative legislators and business leaders, has proposed hundreds of laws - often with success - on dozens of topics. Few people need to know about registration of custom cars and hot rods, but ALEC's work affects so many areas of the law that it deserves more attention from lawyers and other legal researchers.

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