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Speeding Up the Codification of Laws: You Say AI, I Say Thank you!


Take a look at the future:

“Automation tools are enabling Washington D.C. to publish its laws much faster: A process that once took months can now be completed by a single person in just one week,” by By Colin Wood, from States Scoop, 1/12/18:


“Something happened in Washington, D.C., for the first time on Tuesday, and almost nobody noticed.

The Council of the District of Columbia launched a new website that contains the legal code for every law in the city. For anyone who doesn’t know how codification works, that may sound unremarkable, but because it usually takes the Council three to five months to turn each new law into properly formatted legal code, there have always been active laws missing from the books. That’s no longer the case.

It’s not the new website that prompted this change — it’s what’s behind it.

A collection of tools supplied by a nonprofit called the Open Law Library has turned a process that previously required several rounds of editing and the help of an outside entity — LexisNexis, in D.C.’s case — into a self-contained and automated task that now takes about a week….” [I saved the article in the Internet Archive, here.]

What is that all about? Think about how the Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) are created from the Oregon Laws:

That time gap between a session law (laws as passed, in chronological order) and a codified law (the laws in force organized by subject) can be a long one. Here in Oregon, and most states, it can take as long as 6 months from the end of a legislative session (when you can find the new session laws in the published “Oregon Laws”) before we see the new Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS), where the new laws (an initiatives) are added to the ORS, as new statutes or incorporated into existing statutes.

(The same process goes on at the federal level. Try reading that 2017 tax law (HR 1, which became PL 115-97), which mostly annotates the existing tax statutes (in the U.S. Code). The codification will be done by the Office of Law Revision Counsel, and a horrible job it will be. It’s be equally “fun” for the Treasury to draft relevant regulations and tax forms.)

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