Sunday, June 28, 2009

Bill Jackets in the News

There has been a lot of controversy recently related to bill jackets in the New York State Senate.

Bill jackets are, not surprisingly, jackets--or folders--for bills. As Bill Manz writes in Gibson's New York Legal Research Guide, "Engrossing a bill involves affixing to it the certifications of passage from each house and enclosing the bill in a folder known as a 'bill jacket.' The house of origin transmits the engrossed bill to the governor's office."

Related to the turmoil in the New York State Senate, that body's bill jackets are being kept under lock and key by the Secretary of the Senate, which probably prevents any bills passed by the Senate from really being official. And two Republican Senators are suing to compel the Secretary to release the bill jackets.

Anyone who has made an appellate argument in New York knows that, in addition to keeping bills warm and giving them an imprimatur of 'officialness,' bill jackets are also the main source of legislative history for New York State laws. Some bill jackets from the last decade are available for free on the State Archives website. Others can be a little harder to find.

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

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