Repealing and Amending Existing Law

Drafting a provision that repeals a law is not difficult. Any type of plain instruction will be sufficient; such as “The ABC Act is Repealed.” It is important to ensure that the provision being repealed is clearly identified, including a full citation.

There are some important rules that should be observed regarding repeals. First, repealing an amending law will not undo the amendment. For instance, if Law X reads a particular way when it is enacted, then reads a different way after it is amended by Law Z, then repealing Law Z will not cause Law X to revert back to the original reading.

In addition, bear in mind that repealing a repealing law will not undo the repeal. If Law A reads a particular way when it is enacted, then it is repealed by Law B, repealing Law B will not result in the revival of Law A.

Repealing a law will not affect the underlying liabilities that Legislative Drafters Deskbook by Tobias Dorseyare incurred under that law while it was in effect. For instance, if a crime results from Law C and you committed that crime, you will still be held accountable for that crime, even if Law D repeals Law C.

There are actually many ways in which a law can cease operating without the need to actually repeal it. In numerous cases, laws simply run their course without being repealed. For instance, a law might apply only to a specific period of time by its terms. In other cases, a law might contain a one-time requirement only. Once that requirement has been satisfied, the law is no longer operable.

When it comes to amending a law, the process is much like editing a document. Text can be manipulated in almost any manner. Existing text can be deleted, new text can be inserted or entire blocks of text can be rewritten. Text can even be moved.

There are two ways in which the text of a law can be changed. This is by inserting text and striking text or by revising an entire block of text. The first method is known as the cut and bite method, while the second method is known as the restatement method.

To learn more about drafting effective legislation, consider taking TheCapitol.Net’s 2-day Legislative Drafting Workshop.

Reference: Legislative Drafter’s Deskbook, by Tobias Dorsey, Sec. 9.20 Repealing a Law and Sec. 9.30 Amending a Law.

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