How to Read a Government Bill
Reading legislative bills can be a confusing experience, especially if you are unfamiliar with the codified text contained in most bills. Legislative bills generally refer to other documents and bills which have either passed or are in the process of being passed.
- Line immediately preceding the title of the bill - this line shows at what stage of passage the amendment that appears in the print was made.
- [Light faced brackets] - indicate the text is amending an existing law. The text within the brackets is being proposed to be omitted from the law as amended.
- [Dark-faced brackets] - used only in amended bills, either on the floor of either House or in committee. They indicate the brackets were inserted by the amendment and have the same effect as light faced brackets.
- Ellipses (***) - used in bills amending existing laws, indicating omitted law which is not being proposed to be changed in the bill.
- Underscoring - used only in bills that amend an existing law. The underscore indicates the text does not appear in existing law, but is proposed to be inserted in the law as amended. The underscored text will form part of the bill if it is finally enacted.
- Strike out type - used only in bills which have been amended either on the floor of either House or in committee. They indicate that the struck out text appeared in a previous version of the bill, but will be deleted and not appear in the text of the new law if the bill is enacted.
- CAPITAL LETTERS - used only in amended bills which were amended either on the floor of either House or in committee. Capital letters indicate that the text in capitals did not appear in the bill's original print, but was inserted into the bill by an amendment in either House. The matter in capitals will be carried into the law and printed in ordinary print if the bill is enacted.
For this reason, most people find it difficult to read a government bill. To facilitate your understanding of the text in a government or legislative bill, what follows is the way the text is generally formatted:
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