How many legislators know how to compile a legislative history? My guess is not many. But they have many skills the rest of us lack, but need. Who among us has the patience to shepherd bills through the state or federal (or local) legislative process without going berserk – and having everyone scream at you day and night? Not I.
Try shadowing a legislator for a day and you’ll see what I mean. (Try shadowing a teacher for a day, too, and see how much like legislating that job is, with just as many people screaming at you.)
Legislative assistants can compile legislative histories and so can government documents and law librarians. For us, legislative history compilation skills are a job requirement, but that doesn’t mean we have to like it, especially if we’re far from the seat of government and can’t visit the official and complete archives where complete bill files can be found.
Here’s an enlightening article that explains why federal legislative history compilation is not for mere mortals:
“A Legislative History of the Affordable Care Act: How Legislative Procedure Shapes Legislative History,” by John Cannan. Law Library Journal, 105:2 (2013)
Or link from: the Law Library Journal menu.