Monday, April 02, 2012

Model Legislation

Some of New Jersey's recent legislation enacted by Gov. Christie tracks model legislation written up by the conservative group ALEC. The response to the article was that the NJ legislators and Christie's office denied any use of the model language, but I find that farfetched. It's far more than coincidental that the language tracks so closely.

The New Jersey example is hardly alone though. I wouldn't be surprised if quite a bit of legislation nationally is the result of lobbyist groups and other groups pushing model legislation.

Many of the lobby groups, like the NRA, produce model language for inclusion in state laws - both as part of their policy prescriptions, and to make it easier to get them enacted consistently nationally.

We've seen that stand your ground (SYG) has the NRA backing it.

Various entities have pushed model language on everything from streamlined sales tax (the SSTP), the Multistate Tax Commission and its model language for taxability issues, Uniform Commercial Code and Uniform entity laws (partnerships, etc.), or even uniform abandoned property laws.

Some of these model law efforts make sense - particularly when the idea is to make a difficult issue uniform - take tax collection across multiple jurisdictions.

However, some of model language smacks of laziness - a state had not considered treatment of a given subject to be important enough or had different treatment until a model language is proffered. It takes the legislative agenda out of the hands of those who are supposed to be writing the laws.

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