If you research the law online, you need to have authenticated, official laws – yes, you do!
There is no point relying on statutes, cases, regulations, and other government legal documents that aren’t correct, aren’t from the year(s) you need, and are missing the source’s official imprimatur.
Most online laws have Disclaimers that advise and warn you to verify what you read online with official, legal text.
But aren’t we told to “get with the plan? It’s all online?” Yes, we are!
So, how do we Get with The Plan? The most important way is to make sure that federal, state, and local governments post authenticated, official laws online. This is where UELMA comes in.
Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA) is a uniform law that would require a state government to:
1) Authenticate official electronic legal materials, by providing a method to determine that it is unaltered
2) Preserve official electronic legal materials, either in electronic or print form; and
3) Make the legal materials easily accessible, for use by the public on a permanent basis.
In Oregon, 2013 HB 2944 is the first, and maybe the last, UELMA bill to be introduced this session. You can read it at the Oregon Legislature’s website – or try this direct link first: HB 2944 (PDF). You can also follow the bill in the Legislature’s OLIS system, from which you can link to hearings, reports, and other proceedings that take place as the bill works its way through the Legislature.
UELMA has been approved by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws and the American Bar Association House of Delegates, and it is under consideration in ten states. It has already become law in Colorado and California.
If you want lots more information about UELMA, visit the American Association of Law Libraries website, where you will find links to the full text of the ULA’s UELMA, to UELMA bill tracking in other states, etc. You can also link directly to the NCCUSL UELMA webpage.