Uniform Laws; Appropriations

Appropriates $32,000 for Hawaii's contribution to the costs of

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES                H.B. NO.           
TWENTIETH LEGISLATURE, 2000                                
STATE OF HAWAII                                            

                   A  BILL  FOR  AN  ACT



 1      SECTION 1.  Findings and purpose.  In 1889, the New York Bar
 2 Association appointed a special committee on uniformity of laws.
 3 In the next year, the New York legislature authorized the
 4 appointment of commissioners "to examine certain subjects of
 5 national importance that seemed to show conflict among the laws
 6 of the several commonwealths, to ascertain the best means to
 7 effect an assimilation or uniformity in the laws of the states,
 8 and especially whether it would be advisable for the State of New
 9 York to invite the other states of the Union to send
10 representatives to a convention to draft uniform laws to be
11 submitted for approval and adoption by the several states."  In
12 that same year, the American Bar Association passed a resolution
13 recommending that each state provide for commissioners to confer
14 with the commissioners of other states on the subject of
15 uniformity of legislation on certain subjects.  In August 1892,
16 the first National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State
17 Laws (commonly referred to as the "NCCUSL" or the "Uniform Law
18 Commissioners") convened in Saratoga, New York, three days
19 preceding the annual meeting of the American Bar Association.  By

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 1 1912, every state was participating in the NCCUSL.  As it has
 2 developed, the NCCUSL is a confederation of state interests.  It
 3 arose out of the concerns of state government for the improvement
 4 of the law and for better interstate relationships.  Its sole
 5 purpose has been, and remains, service to state government and
 6 improvement of state law.
 7      The NCCUSL, as a state service organization, depends upon
 8 state appropriations for its continued operation.  All states,
 9 the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the United States
10 Virgin Islands are asked to contribute a specific amount, based
11 on population, for the maintenance of the NCCUSL.  In addition,
12 each state commission requests an amount to cover its travel to
13 the NCCUSL annual meeting.
14      The NCCUSL is a unique institution created to consider state
15 law and to determine in which areas of the law uniformity is
16 important.  The work of the NCCUSL has been a valuable addition
17 over time to the improvement of state law in a great many subject
18 areas.  Included in that work have been acts such as the Uniform
19 Commercial Code, the Uniform Partnership Act, the Uniform Limited
20 Partnership Act, the Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support
21 Act, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act, the Uniform
22 Anatomical Gift Act, and the Model State Administrative Procedure
23 Act, acts which have been adopted uniformly by nearly all the

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 1 states or which have been heavily utilized by most state
 2 legislatures.  Even with acts that have not been uniformly
 3 adopted, the texts consistently contribute to the improvement of
 4 the law and have served as valuable references for the
 5 legislatures in their effort to improve the quality of state law.
 6      The procedures of the NCCUSL ensure meticulous consideration
 7 of each uniform or model act.  The NCCUSL spends a minimum of two
 8 years on each draft.  Sometimes, the drafting work extends much
 9 longer.  The drafting work for such large-scale acts as the
10 Uniform Commercial Code, the Uniform Probate Code, and the
11 Uniform Land Transactions Act took nearly a decade to complete.
12 No single state has the resources necessary to duplicate this
13 meticulous, careful, nonpartisan effort.  Without the NCCUSL,
14 nothing like the existing body of uniform state laws would ever
15 be available to the states.
16      The NCCUSL also permits the states to tap the skills and
17 resources of the legal profession for very little cost.  None of
18 the Uniform Law Commissioners is paid for their services.  They
19 receive at most only reimbursement for actual expenses incurred.
20 The NCCUSL estimates that each commissioner devotes approximately
21 two hundred hours a year to NCCUSL work, including work on
22 various drafting committees and attendance at the annual meeting.

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 1 These are hours mainly spent in research and drafting work --
 2 solid, substantive hours.  The cumulative value of this donated
 3 time in the development of uniform and model acts averages about
 4 $6,000,000 per year, at a conservative estimate.  The total
 5 requested contribution of all the states to the operation of the
 6 NCCUSL is $1,356,300 in 1999-2000.  The smallest state
 7 contribution is $8,200 (U.S. Virgin Islands) and the largest is
 8 $118,300 (California).  Hawaii's contribution is $12,300, which
 9 represents an extraordinarily good, cost-effective investment for
10 the citizens of Hawaii.  Even a modest use of the work product of
11 the NCCUSL guarantees any state a substantial return on each
12 dollar invested.  The average number is seventy of current
13 uniform and model acts adopted in all states.  Hawaii has had one
14 hundred five enactments of uniform acts, amendments to uniform
15 acts, and revised uniform acts.  For every dollar invested by
16 each state, it has received very substantial and valuable
17 services.
18      The NCCUSL works efficiently for all of the states because
19 individual lawyers are willing to donate time to the uniform law
20 movement, and because it is a genuine cooperative effort of all
21 the states.  The NCCUSL seemed like a very good idea to its
22 founders in 1892.  They saw nearly insoluble problems resulting
23 from the rapid growth of the United States against confusing

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 1 patterns of inadequate state law.  They were deeply concerned
 2 about the evils of centralized government, fearing the unchecked
 3 growth of the federal government.
 4      The NCCUSL continues to be a very good idea.  The states
 5 have chosen to maintain the NCCUSL because it has been useful to
 6 them and because it strengthens the states in a federal system of
 7 government.  Different law in different states continues to be a
 8 problem.  Either the states solve the problem or the issues are
 9 removed to Congress.  Without a state-sponsored national
10 institution like the NCCUSL, more and more legislative activity
11 would shift from the state capitols to Capitol Hill in
12 Washington, D.C.
13      The procedures for preparing an act are the result of long
14 experience with the creation of legislation.  The NCCUSL
15 maintains a standing committee called the Scope and Program
16 Committee that considers new subject areas of state law as
17 potential for uniform or model acts.  That committee studies
18 suggestions from many sources, including the organized bar, state
19 government, and private persons.  If a subject area cannot be
20 adequately studied by the Scope and Program Committee, it is
21 likely to be given to a special study committee.  Study
22 committees report back to the Scope and Program Committee.
23 Recommendations from the Scope and Program Committee go to the

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 1 NCCUSL Executive Committee and to the entire NCCUSL for approval
 2 or disapproval, however the case may be.
 3      Once a subject receives approval for drafting, a drafting
 4 committee is selected, and a budget is established for the
 5 committee work.  A reporter is usually engaged to provide
 6 professional drafting assistance, although a few committees work
 7 without professional assistance.  Most often, the reporters are
 8 law professors with specific expertise in the area of law
 9 addressed in the act they draft who work with the drafting
10 committees for very modest honorariums.
11      Advisors and participating observers are solicited to assist
12 every drafting committee.  The American Bar Association appoints
13 official advisors for every committee.  Participating observers
14 may come from state government, from organizations with interests
15 and expertise in a subject, and from the ranks of recognized
16 experts in a subject.  Advisors and participating observers are
17 invited to work with drafting committees and to contribute
18 comments.  They do not make final decisions with respect to the
19 final contents of an act.  Only the NCCUSL members who compose
20 the drafting committee may do this.
21      A committee meets according to the needs of the project.
22 Meetings ordinarily begin on Friday morning and finish by Sunday
23 noon, so as to conflict the least with ordinary working hours.  A

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 1 short act may require one or two committee meetings.  Major acts
 2 may require a meeting per month for a considerable period of time
 3 -- several years, in some instances.  A given committee may
 4 produce a number of successive drafts as an act evolves.
 5      The NCCUSL is convened as a body once a year.  It meets for
 6 a period of eight to twelve days, usually in July or August.  At
 7 each annual meeting, during its working life, each drafting
 8 committee must present its latest working draft to the whole body
 9 of the NCCUSL.  The entire text of each working draft is actually
10 read aloud -- a reading of a proposed uniform law is not by title
11 only, but is considered section by section either by section
12 title or word for word -- and debated during proceedings of the
13 committee of the whole.  This scrutiny continues from annual
14 meeting to annual meeting until a final draft satisfies the whole
15 body of the commissioners.  No proposed uniform law becomes
16 officially recognized as a uniform act without at least two
17 years' consideration, meaning every act receives at least one
18 interim reading at an annual meeting and a final reading at a
19 subsequent annual meeting.  As noted previously, there is often
20 more than one interim reading and a drafting process that exceeds
21 two years in duration.  A draft becomes an official act by a
22 majority vote of the states (one vote to each state).  The vote
23 by states completes the drafting work and the act is ready for

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 1 consideration by the state legislatures.
 2      The cost of this process to the states is in travel
 3 expenses, paper and publication costs, and meeting costs. Nearly
 4 all the professional services are donated, thereby eliminating
 5 the single greatest cost factor.  For the states, with their
 6 necessary cost consciousness, the system has extraordinary value.
 7      The governing body of the NCCUSL is the NCCUSL Executive
 8 Committee, which is composed of the officers, certain ex officio
 9 members, and members appointed by the President of the NCCUSL.
10 Certain activities are conducted by standing committees.  As
11 mentioned above, the Committee on Scope and Program considers all
12 new subject areas for possible uniform acts.  The Legislative
13 Committee superintends the relationships of the NCCUSL to the
14 state legislatures.
15      A small staff located in Chicago operates the national
16 office of the NCCUSL.  The national office handles meeting
17 arrangements, publications, legislative liaison, and general
18 administration for the NCCUSL. The NCCUSL has consciously limited
19 its staff to prevent accrual of needless administrative costs.
20 The full-time staff numbers six people.  Included in that number
21 are the Chief Administrative Officer, the Legislative
22 Director/Legal Counsel, and the Communications Officer, who are
23 the only executive staff.  The Executive Director's position is

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 1 part-time, and is traditionally occupied by someone from the law
 2 school community.  In addition, the NCCUSL contracts with
 3 professional, independent contractors for part of its public
 4 information and educational materials.
 5      The NCCUSL maintains relations with several sister
 6 organizations.  Official liaison is maintained with the American
 7 Bar Association, which contributes an amount each year to the
 8 operation of the NCCUSL.  Liaison is also maintained with the
 9 American Law Institute, the Council of State Governments, and the
10 National Conference of State Legislatures on an ongoing basis.
11 Liaison and activities may be conducted with other associations
12 as interests and activities necessitate.
13      Hawaii created a commission to participate in the NCCUSL in
14 1911.  The Hawaii commission to promote uniform legislation is
15 presently within the state department of the attorney general
16 and, pursuant to section 26-7, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is
17 advisory to the attorney general and to the legislature on
18 matters relating to the promotion of uniform legislation.
19 Pursuant to sections 3-1 and 26-7, Hawaii Revised Statutes, the
20 commission consists of five members, who are appointed by the
21 governor, with the advice and consent of the senate, for
22 staggered terms of four years and until their successors are
23 appointed and qualified.  The NCCUSL constitution requires that

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 1 each commissioner be a lawyer.  A deputy attorney general,
 2 assigned by the attorney general to coordinate the review and
 3 preparation of legislative bills, sits with the commission to
 4 provide technical assistance, as necessary, and is recognized as
 5 an associate member of Hawaii's delegation to the NCCUSL.
 6      The work of the NCCUSL cannot be accomplished independently
 7 by a small state such as the State of Hawaii.  Consequently, the
 8 continued support of and participation in the NCCUSL by this
 9 State is essential to continue the work of drafting and revising
10 uniform laws concerning matters of state interest.  The purpose
11 of this Act is to provide the necessary funds for Hawaii's
12 contribution to the costs of the NCCUSL for fiscal year 2000-2001
13 and for the costs of sending Hawaii's delegation to the NCCUSL
14 2000 annual meeting.
15      SECTION 2.  There is appropriated out of the general
16 revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of $32,000 for fiscal
17 year 2000-2001, or so much thereof as may be necessary, for
18 Hawaii's contribution to the costs of the National Conference of
19 Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL) and for the
20 registration and travel expenses for the commission to promote
21 uniform legislation of the department of the attorney general and
22 the assigned deputy attorney general to attend the 2000 annual
23 meeting of the NCCUSL.

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 1      SECTION 3.  The sum appropriated shall be expended by the
 2 department of the attorney general for the purposes of this Act.
 3      SECTION 4.  This Act shall take effect on July 1, 2000. 
 5                       INTRODUCED BY:  ___________________________