OASIS Mailing List ArchivesView the OASIS mailing list archive below
or browse/search using MarkMail.


Help: OASIS Mailing Lists Help | MarkMail Help

legaldocml message

[Date Prev] | [Thread Prev] | [Thread Next] | [Date Next] -- [Date Index] | [Thread Index] | [List Home]

Subject: Re: Active Modifications, Passive Modifications, and strike and insert

Dear Grant, 

I'll leave to Monica to comment on the legal aspects of what you write, but I would like to draw your and everybody's attention to a few ambiguous use of a few relevant concepts of Akoma Ntoso. 

On 03/ott/2012, at 00.45, Grant Vergottini wrote:

> Hi Monica, Fabio, and all,
> I need to describe some details of the California process in the terminology we have evolved in the legaldocML meetings:
> 	•  Bills propose new laws and/or modify existing law
>    - When a bill proposes to modify existing law, those changes are "activeMods" in Akoma Ntoso terminology.
> 	• Instruction Amendments propose amendments to Bills. 
>    - An instruction amendment document equates to an Akoma Ntoso amendment document
>    - When an instruction amendment proposes to amend a bill, those changes are also "activeMods".

That is correct, but you are telling only half the story. In general, when dealing with changes, we are always witnessing a triangle: the modifying document converts the old version of a document into a new version. Most often, these modifications are in the form of explicit instructions of textual edits: insert X, delete Y, modify K into J, etc. Akoma Ntoso calls these instructions *Mods, and calls them ActiveMods when they are contained in the modifying document, and PassiveMods when they are contained in the (new version of) the modified document. 

Let us consider first a simple case, a bill that does NOT propose to modify existing law, but proposes completely new legislation, say "Mining Rights on Planet Mars" meant to be enacted as an independent statute. As such, the bill contains NO ActiveMods. During the normal lifecycle of the drafting process, the bill gets modified several times by a number of formal documents (e.g. instruction amendments) and, possibly, direct actions without a formal document (such as a verbal request for a modification proposed and approved directly on the floor of the assembly). The modifying documents, if rendered into Akoma Ntoso, contain ActiveMods for all the change they introduce. Whenever the lifecycle of the assembly generates a new version of the bill, this still contains NO ActiveMods (because it does not propose changes to legislation), but contains PassiveMods that are symmetrical to the ActiveMods of its modifying documents (i.e., the instruction amendments).

Let us now consider a slightly more complex case, in which the bill IS proposing modifications to existing laws. Since the bill is therefore meant to become an act and generate modifications in enacted laws, it contains ActiveMods for the modifications it proposes to the enacted laws. But since this is only a bill and not yet an act, these ActiveMods are only proposed, not real: they are just potential, if you allow me they are InactiveMods. Their nature and content will change during the lifecycle, as provisions are added, removed and modified, but they will remain inactive until the bill is promulgated and enacted. Of course a modifying bill undergoes the same steps of the drafting lifecycle as the other types of bills, and as such there will be instruction amendments containing ActiveMods to our bill, and new versions of the bill will contain PassiveMods that are symmetrical to them. 

Therefore, at the end of the drafting process, the final version of an amending bill contains inactiveMods for the changes it proposes to enacted laws, as well as passiveMods for all the changes the bill itself underwent in its lifecycle. One the bill is promulgated and enacted, the bill becomes an act, the InactiveMods become ActiveMods and its PassiveMods are discarded as not relevant for the act: At the same time, all affected codes and statutes need to be updated into new versions of themselves that contain PassiveMods which are symmetrical to the ActiveMods of the new modifying act.
> 	•  When an Instruction Amendment is adopted, the amendments itemized are "engrossed" into the bill. The term for engrossing in Akoma Ntoso is "consolidation"
>  - The engrossed changes, shown in the next version of the bill, are shown as strikes and inserts.
>  - Those changes, in the next version of the bill, are "passiveMods" in Akoma Ntoso terminology.

Akoma Ntoso has always preferred widely shared terminology for its basic concepts, so that experts could understand exactly what we were meaning when we referred to a specific concept. But whenever no shared terminology exists, or whenever a term is used ambiguously, or differently, or only locally, I strongly believe it makes sense to avoid using such term, and aim for a generic, harmless term instead. 

I am not sure this is the case for "consolidation". If and when we agree that "consolidation" is unclear, I think we will be justified in ditching it. But surely I believe that "engrossing" is a local term. For instance, while "act" is quite harmless, "code" and "statute" are local (for instance, many countries in Europe have codes, but they are far from being the only source of legislation). I also do not like "compilation" or "codification", being too specific for the modification of a code and not, for instance, of a statute or a decree. 

> 	• When a bill is adopted, it becomes a statute (or a chapter)
> - A statute is law when it is effective and operational (conditions which make it apply), while a bill is proposed law
> - A statute is an act. In some case, a statute defines standalone laws - such as a code. 
> - A statute the defines standalone law is often given a name and can be referred to by that name instead of by the statute number. In this case, there are alias names for the same act. All codes are referred by be their name, not the statute. For instance, the Vehicle Code is also Chapter 3 of the statutes of 1959. It's almost always referred to as the Vehicle Code.

Thank you. I was waiting for this. This is exactly the situation we have in Italy, where Codes are called Codes, but are actually acts or even annexes to the act that originally created them (for instance the Italian "Criminal Code" really is an annex to the King's Decree of 19 October 1930, n. 1398).

The fact that a piece of legislation can be called in several different ways has always been on our mind, so that we knew that we had to allow for different aliases all having the same chance to identify the right piece of legislation. 

For the same reason I also always insisted on the naming convention to be univocal, but nor necessarily unique: you can and should have more than one URI to refer to the same conceptual document, so that you can call the SAME document both as "Vehicle Code" and as "Chapter 3 of the statutes of 1959".

> 	•  When a bill is adopted, any modifications itemized are "compiled" into the law (or the codes). The term for compiling in Akoma Ntoso also appears to be "consolidation" ????
>  - Code compilation an bill engrossing are two very different processes - using the term consolidation for both will be confusing.

Again we can propose to use a better term, but I would like to point out that as you described it, "consolidation" does in fact refer to exactly the same operation: Given an existing version of a document X (it can be a bill or some enacted law) and a modifying document Y (it can be an amendment for the bill, or a modifying act for the act), then we call "consolidation" the process of creating a new version of X where the modifications proposed in Y are integrated with the existing text and result in a new text.

What reassures me is the fact that you do not mention "consolidation" as used either for integration of amendments into bills or for integration of modifying acts into codes. As such, the word appears free of pre-existing and potentially confusing meanings and can be used to mean exactly what we plan for it to mean, doesn't it?

> Next, I need to explain the different between the passiveMods and the strikes and inserts. They are not exactly the same thing. This is very important.

My own interpretation of the distinction (which IS important): 

Strikes and inserts are ways that LOCALLY-ENFORCED TRADITIONS use for DISPLAYING the differences between older and newer versions of some document. Traditions may (and in fact DO) vary and actual rendering of exactly the same situation may be wildly different in wildly different situations. 

On the contrary, passiveMods are the exact representations of the (meaning of the) EDITING INSTRUCTIONS specified in the modifying document. In most cases, such editing instructions are *fewer* and *smaller* than the corresponding visual effect. For instance, the instruction to add a comma would be rendered by putting in bold the whole preceding word, lest one oversees the presence of the new comma. The question is open in the situations where no explicit editing instruction is present, e.g., when the amendment simply contains the new text without mention of the changes. 

But let me make it clear again: strikes and inserts are PRESENTATION-ORIENTED. As such, you are very welcome to enforce whatever local tradition you work under, so that you can present the text exactly as your readers have been used to in the last centuries. On the contrary, mods are REPRESENTATIONS of EXPLICIT EDITS, and describe exactly what the editing instructions specify. 



> With word processing programs like MS Word, the strikes and inserts are exactly the changes being made. But this is not true in US style legislation and this difference is why this subject is so difficult. When building a legislative editor, the difference between the two accounts for over half the complexity of building the editor.
> Simply put, the strikes and inserts reflect the changes that have been made to the document, but those changes are not always explicitly shown as simple strikes and inserts. Sometimes, the pattern behind the strikes and inserts tells a more complex story:
> 	• When paragraphs are joined or split, specific patterns in the strikes and inserts denotes these changes.
> 	• When new bill sections are added, any bill section that is modifying existing law gets special treatment. Rather than showing the entire bill section as an insertion, only the initial text (the action line in California's terminology) is shown as an insertion. Specifically, the quotedStructure is not shown as an insertion. Instead, the text that is being quoted (coming from the law) is shown as normal (non-inserted) text.
> 	• If a bill is being "gutted" (rewritten in its entirety to address a different subject), then it is not necessary to show all the prior text that is being deleted. Instead, a partial deletion is shown along with a note that the rest of the text is being omitted for the sake of brevity.
> 	• The first time that a bill section that contains an activeMod (modifying the law) is introduced, the changes proposed to the text of the law and displayed within the quoted structure, may contain strikes and inserts which are changes to law and are not passive changes to the bill.  This means that the initial version of a bill may contain strikes and inserts - but these changes are informative changes within quotedStructure. This situation arises in California and in most other states because modifications to the law must be done "in full". What this means is that any section modified must be replaced in its entirety even when the change is perhaps a minor word change. So the bill proposes all new text for the section as the modification, but the strike/inserts shows what the real change is as a detail.
> Note: In California, the first time a bill section contains an activeMod is shown, then any changes shown within its quotedStructure relate to the law and not to a prior version of the bill. However, in subsequent versions of the bill, the changes shown in the quotedStructure do relate to the prior version of the bill. This is ambiguous and is seldom understood - there are two distinct meanings to strike and insert within California legislation.  Some other states (such as Kansas and New Mexico), accumulate the changes in the quotedStructure to make it more clear just how the law is being proposed to be changed. You cannot see this detail in a California bill without a special tool to help you.
> My presentation a few weeks ago also described these various ways of interpreting redlining. I have included that presentation with a few updates that reflect my newer understanding.
> -- Grant
> ____________________________________________________________________
> Grant Vergottini
> Xcential Group, LLC.
> email: grant.vergottini@xcential.com
> phone: 858.361.6738
> <California Redlining Examples.odp>


Fabio Vitali                            Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly,
Dept. of Computer Science        Man got to sit and wonder "Why, why, why?'
Univ. of Bologna  ITALY               Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land,
phone:  +39 051 2094872              Man got to tell himself he understand.
e-mail: fabio@cs.unibo.it         Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007), "Cat's cradle"

[Date Prev] | [Thread Prev] | [Thread Next] | [Date Next] -- [Date Index] | [Thread Index] | [List Home]