REPORT TITLE:
Uniform Laws; Appropriation

DESCRIPTION:
Appropriates funds for Hawaii's contribution to the costs of the
National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, and
for related registration and travel expenses.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
                                                        
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES                H.B. NO.1640       
TWENTIETH LEGISLATURE, 1999                                
STATE OF HAWAII                                            
                                                             
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________


                   A  BILL  FOR  AN  ACT

MAKING APPROPRIATIONS FOR UNIFORM LAWS.



BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:

 1      SECTION 1.  Findings and purpose.  In 1889, the New York Bar
 
 2 Association appointed a special committee on uniformity of laws.
 
 3 In the next year, the New York Legislature authorized the
 
 4 appointment of commissioners "to examine certain subjects of
 
 5 national importance that seemed to show conflict among the laws
 
 6 of the several commonwealths, to ascertain the best means to
 
 7 effect an assimilation or uniformity in the laws of the states,
 
 8 and especially whether it would be advisable for the State of New
 
 9 York to invite the other states of the Union to send
 
10 representatives to a convention to draft uniform laws to be
 
11 submitted for approval and adoption by the several states."  In
 
12 that same year, the American Bar Association passed a resolution
 
13 recommending that each state provide for commissioners to confer
 
14 with the commissioners of other states on the subject of
 
15 uniformity of legislation on certain subjects.  In August 1892,
 
16 the first National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State
 
17 Laws (commonly referred to as the the "uniform law
 
18 commissioners") convened in Saratoga, New York, three days
 
19 preceding the annual meeting of the American Bar Association.  By
 

 
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 1 1912, every state was participating in the National Conference of
 
 2 Commissioners on Uniform State Laws.  As it has developed, the
 
 3 National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws is a
 
 4 confederation of state interests.  It arose out of the concerns
 
 5 of state government for the improvement of the law and for better
 
 6 interstate relationships.  Its sole purpose has been, and
 
 7 remains, service to state government and improvement of state
 
 8 law.
 
 9      The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State
 
10 Laws, as a state service organization, depends upon state
 
11 appropriations for its continued operation.  All states, the
 
12 District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the United States Virgin
 
13 Islands are asked to contribute a specific amount, based on
 
14 population, for the maintenance of the National Conference of
 
15 Commissioners on Uniform State Laws.  In addition, each state
 
16 commission requests an amount to cover its travel to the National
 
17 Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws annual meeting.
 
18      The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State
 
19 Laws is a unique institution created to consider state law and to
 
20 determine in which areas of the law uniformity is important.  The
 
21 work of the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State
 
22 Laws has been a valuable addition over time to the improvement of
 
23 state law in a great many subject areas.  Included in that work
 

 
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 1 have been acts such as the Uniform Commercial Code, the Uniform
 
 2 Partnership Act, the Uniform Limited Partnership Act, the Uniform
 
 3 Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act, the Uniform Child Custody
 
 4 Jurisdiction Act, the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, and the Model
 
 5 State Administrative Procedure Act, acts which have been adopted
 
 6 uniformly by nearly all the states or which have been heavily
 
 7 utilized by most state legislatures.  Even with acts that have
 
 8 not been uniformly adopted, the texts consistently contribute to
 
 9 the improvement of the law and have served as valuable references
 
10 for the legislatures in their effort to improve the quality of
 
11 state law.
 
12      The procedures of the National Conference of Commissioners
 
13 on Uniform State Laws ensure meticulous consideration of each
 
14 uniform or model act.  The National Conference of Commissioners
 
15 on Uniform State Laws spends a minimum of two years on each
 
16 draft.  Sometimes, the drafting work extends much longer.  The
 
17 drafting work for such large-scale acts as the Uniform Commercial
 
18 Code, the Uniform Probate Code, and the Uniform Land Transactions
 
19 Act took nearly a decade to complete.  No state has the resources
 
20 necessary to duplicate this meticulous, careful effort.  Without
 
21 the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws,
 
22 nothing like the existing body of uniform state laws would ever
 
23 be available to the states.
 

 
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 1      The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State
 
 2 Laws also permits the states to tap the skills and resources of
 
 3 the legal profession for very little cost.  No Uniform Law
 
 4 Commissioner is paid for his or her services.  He or she receives
 
 5 compensation only for actual expenses incurred.  The National
 
 6 Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws estimates that
 
 7 each commissioner devotes approximately two hundred hours a year
 
 8 to National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws
 
 9 work, including work on various drafting committees and
 
10 attendance at the annual meeting.  These are hours mainly spent
 
11 in research and drafting work -- solid, substantive hours.  The
 
12 cumulative value of this donated time in the development of
 
13 uniform and model acts averages about $6,000,000 per year, at a
 
14 conservative estimate.  The total requested contribution of all
 
15 the states to the operation of the National Conference of
 
16 Commissioners on Uniform State Laws is $1,289,500 in 1998-1999.
 
17 The smallest state contribution is $7,800 (United States Virgin
 
18 Islands) and the largest is $112,300 (California).  Hawaii's
 
19 contribution is $11,700.  Even a modest use of the work product
 
20 of the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws
 
21 guarantees any state a substantial return on each dollar
 
22 invested.  The average number is seventy of current uniform and
 
23 model acts adopted in all states.  Hawaii has adopted one hundred
 

 
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 1 one enactments of uniform acts, amendments to uniform acts, and
 
 2 revised uniform acts.  For every dollar invested by each state,
 
 3 it has received very substantial and valuable services.
 
 4      The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State
 
 5 Laws constitutes an efficient voluntary institution for the
 
 6 benefit of state government.  This institution works because
 
 7 individual lawyers are willing to donate time to the effort, and
 
 8 because it is a genuine cooperative effort of the states.  It
 
 9 seemed like a very good idea when it began in 1892, and it
 
10 continues to be a very good idea.  The states have chosen to
 
11 maintain it because it has been useful to them and because it
 
12 strengthens the states in a federal system of government.
 
13 Everybody recognizes a myriad of interstate problems in the law.
 
14 Either the states solve them, or the issues are removed to
 
15 Congress.  Virtually the only institution the states have for
 
16 solving these problems is the National Conference of
 
17 Commissioners on Uniform State Laws.  Without it, more and more
 
18 legislative activity would shift from the state capitols to
 
19 Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
 
20      The procedures for drafting an act are the result of long
 
21 experience with the creation of legislation.  The National
 
22 Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws maintains a
 
23 standing committee called the scope and program committee that
 

 
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 1 considers new subject areas of state law as potential for uniform
 
 2 or model acts.  That committee studies suggestions from many
 
 3 sources, including the organized bar, state government, and
 
 4 private persons.  If a subject area cannot be adequately studied,
 
 5 it is likely to be given to a special study committee.  The
 
 6 recommendations that come from this study mechanism go to the
 
 7 National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws
 
 8 Executive Committee and to the entire National Conference of
 
 9 Commissioners on Uniform State Laws for approval or disapproval,
 
10 however the case may be.  The committee members for this research
 
11 work are all uniform law commissioners appointed from their state
 
12 delegations.
 
13      Once a subject receives approval for drafting, a drafting
 
14 committee is selected, and a budget is established for the
 
15 committee work.  If there is a need for professional drafting
 
16 assistance, and if the budget permits, a reporter from outside
 
17 the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws
 
18 may be hired.  Many committees work without professional
 
19 assistance, and, sometimes, that assistance is donated as well.
 
20      On most drafting efforts, advisors are solicited to assist
 
21 the drafting committee.  The American Bar Association appoints
 
22 official advisors for every committee.  Other advisors may come
 
23 from state government, from organizations with interests and
 

 
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 1 expertise in a subject, and from the ranks of recognized experts
 
 2 in a subject.  They must donate their time, as well, to the
 
 3 effort if they wish to participate.  Advisors are invited to work
 
 4 with drafting committees and to contribute comments.  They do not
 
 5 make final decisions with respect to the final contents of an
 
 6 act.  Only the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform
 
 7 State Laws members who compose the drafting committee may do
 
 8 this.
 
 9      A committee meets according to the needs of the project.
 
10 Meetings ordinarily begin on Friday morning and finish by Sunday
 
11 noon, so as to conflict the least with ordinary working hours.  A
 
12 short act may require one or two committee meetings.  Major acts
 
13 may require a meeting per month for a considerable period of time
 
14 -- several years, in some instances.  A given committee may
 
15 produce a number of successive drafts as an act evolves.
 
16      The cost of this process to the states is in travel
 
17 expenses, paper and publication costs, and meeting costs.  Nearly
 
18 all the professional services are donated, thereby eliminating
 
19 the single greatest cost factor.  For the states, with their
 
20 necessary cost consciousness, the system has great advantages.
 
21      The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State
 
22 Laws is convened as a body once a year.  It meets for a period of
 
23 eight to twelve days, usually in July or August.  At each annual
 

 
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 1 meeting, during its working life, each drafting committee must
 
 2 present its latest working draft to the whole body of the
 
 3 National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws.  The
 
 4 entire text of each working draft is actually read aloud -- a
 
 5 reading of a proposed uniform law is not by title only, but is
 
 6 considered section by section either by section title or word for
 
 7 word -- and debated during proceedings of the committee of the
 
 8 whole.  No proposed uniform law becomes officially recognized as
 
 9 a uniform act until the National Conference of Commissioners on
 
10 Uniform State Laws is satisfied that it is ready for
 
11 consideration in the state legislatures and such recognition is
 
12 given only after a proposed uniform law has been considered for a
 
13 substantial period of time.  It is then put to a vote of the
 
14 states, during which each state's commissioners caucus and vote
 
15 as a unit.
 
16      The governing body of the National Conference of
 
17 Commissioners on Uniform State Laws is the National Conference of
 
18 Commissioners on Uniform State Laws executive committee, which is
 
19 composed of the officers, certain ex officio members, and members
 
20 appointed by the President of the National Conference of
 
21 Commissioners on Uniform State Laws.  Certain activities are
 
22 conducted by standing committees.  As mentioned above, the
 
23 committee on scope and program considers all new subject areas
 

 
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                                     H.B. NO.1640       
                                                        
                                                        

 
 1 for possible uniform acts.  The legislative committee
 
 2 superintends the relationships of the National Conference of
 
 3 Commissioners on Uniform State Laws to the state legislatures.
 
 4      A small staff located in Chicago operates the national
 
 5 office of the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform
 
 6 State Laws.  The national office handles meeting arrangements,
 
 7 publications, legislative liaison, and general administration for
 
 8 the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws.
 
 9      The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State
 
10 Laws has consciously limited its staff to prevent accrual of
 
11 needless administrative costs.  The full-time staff numbers seven
 
12 people.  Included in that number are the chief administrative
 
13 officer, the legislative director/legal counsel, the legal
 
14 consultant, and the communications officer, who are the only
 
15 executive staff.  The executive director's position is part-time,
 
16 and is traditionally occupied by someone from the law school
 
17 community.  In addition, the National Conference of Commissioners
 
18 on Uniform State Laws contracts for professional services to aid
 
19 in the drafting effort.  These professional reporters, so-called,
 
20 are engaged at very modest honorariums to work with drafting
 
21 committees on specific acts.  The National Conference of
 
22 Commissioners on Uniform State Laws also contracts with
 
23 professional, independent contractors for part of its public
 

 
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                                     H.B. NO.1640       
                                                        
                                                        

 
 1 information and educational materials.  In-house staff costs
 
 2 amount to twenty-four per cent of the budget.
 
 3      The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State
 
 4 Laws maintains relations with several sister organizations.
 
 5 Official liaison is maintained with the American Bar Association,
 
 6 which contributes an amount each year to the operation of the
 
 7 National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws.
 
 8 Liaison is also maintained with the American Law Institute, the
 
 9 Council of State Governments, and the National Conference of
 
10 State Legislatures on an ongoing basis.  Liaison and activities
 
11 may be conducted with other associations as interests and
 
12 activities necessitate.
 
13      Hawaii created a commission to participate in the National
 
14 Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws in 1911.  The
 
15 Hawaii commission to promote uniform legislation is presently
 
16 within the state department of the attorney general and, pursuant
 
17 to section 26-7, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is advisory to the
 
18 attorney general and to the legislature on matters relating to
 
19 the promotion of uniform legislation.  Pursuant to sections 3-1
 
20 and 26-7, Hawaii Revised Statutes, the commission consists of
 
21 five members, who are appointed by the governor, with the advice
 
22 and consent of the senate, for staggered terms of four years and
 
23 until their successors are appointed and qualified.  The National
 

 
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 1 Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws constitution
 
 2 requires that each commissioner be a lawyer.  A deputy attorney
 
 3 general, assigned by the attorney general to coordinate the
 
 4 review and preparation of legislative bills, sits with the
 
 5 commission to provide technical assistance, as necessary, and is
 
 6 recognized as an associate member of Hawaii's delegation to the
 
 7 National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws.
 
 8      The work of the National Conference of Commissioners on
 
 9 Uniform State Laws cannot be accomplished independently by a
 
10 small state such as the State of Hawaii.  Consequently, the
 
11 continued support of and participation in the National Conference
 
12 of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws by this State is essential
 
13 to continue the work of drafting and revising uniform laws
 
14 concerning matters of state interest.  The purpose of this bill
 
15 is to provide the necessary funds for Hawaii's contribution to
 
16 the costs of the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform
 
17 State Laws for fiscal years 1999-2000 and 2000-2001, and for the
 
18 costs of sending Hawaii's delegation to the National Conference
 
19 of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws 1999 and 2000 annual
 
20 meetings.
 
21      SECTION 2.  There are appropriated out of the general
 
22 revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of $27,500, or so much
 
23 thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 1999-2000, and the
 

 
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 1 sum of $33,200, or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal
 
 2 year 2000-2001, for Hawaii's contribution to the costs of the
 
 3 National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws and
 
 4 for the registration and travel expenses for the commission to
 
 5 promote uniform legislation of the department of the attorney
 
 6 general and the assigned deputy attorney general to attend the
 
 7 1999 and 2000 annual meetings of the National Conference of
 
 8 Commissioners on Uniform State Laws.
 
 9      SECTION 3.  The sums appropriated shall be expended by the
 
10 department of the attorney general for the purposes of this Act.
 
11      SECTION 4.  This Act shall take effect on July 1, 1999.
 
12 
 
13                           INTRODUCED BY:  _______________________