The Statutory Codification Process
Section 323.007 of the Government Code requires the Texas Legislative Council to carry out a complete nonsubstantive revision of the Texas statutes. The process involves reclassifying and rearranging the statutes in a more logical order, employing a numbering system and format that will accommodate future expansion of the law, eliminating repealed, invalid, duplicative, and other ineffective provisions, and improving the draftsmanship of the law if practicable—all toward promoting the stated purpose of making the statutes “more accessible, understandable, and usable” without altering the sense, meaning, or effect of the law. Before the initiation of this program, Texas statutes were last revised in 1925.
The continuing statutory revision program was created by a 1963 statute, which also created a statutory revision advisory committee. With the assistance of council staff, the committee prepared for adoption by the council a classification plan for Texas statutes and proposed a numbering and format system for the codes. Under the Texas statutory revision program, all Texas statutes will eventually be contained in one of 27 topical codes.
The revision program should not be confused with a mere compilation of previously enacted statutes; revision is a labor-intensive process that involves complete redrafting of the statutory language. Members of the council legal staff spend most of their work time during a legislative interim on statutory revision projects. After the staff proposes and the council approves a project, the legal division director names a staff attorney as chief revisor for that project. The chief revisor is responsible for collecting the source law from which the new code (or portion of a code) will be drawn, proposing an arrangement for the code, and assigning the work among the council attorneys assigned to the project. Work is usually assigned on a chapter-by-chapter basis. The attorney reviews in detail the statutes assigned to that chapter, reads and analyzes the case law interpreting those statutes, identifies provisions that are invalid, duplicative, or ineffective, and redrafts those statutes into a single, well-organized, well-written statute that conforms to the format and consistent manner of expression in the enacted codes. The attorney’s work product is prepared into a working draft that is meticulously reviewed by the chief revisor and at least two other experienced attorneys. After legal staff review, the draft is prepared as a preliminary draft and distributed to interested persons outside the agency for review and comment. Changes suggested by outside reviewers are considered and may be incorporated in the proposed revised law.
This is a nonsubstantive revision. The staff’s authority does not include improving the substance of the current law. The sole purpose of this project is to compile the relevant law, arrange it in a logical fashion, and rewrite it without altering its meaning or legal effect. If a particular source statute is ambiguous and the ambiguity cannot be resolved without a potential substantive effect, the ambiguity is preserved. In addition, the code does not attempt to reflect court decisions that have not been approved by the Texas court of last resort or the possible effect of recent federal legislation.
After considering outside reviewers’ questions, comments, and suggestions and making any necessary changes to the proposed revised law, that proposed law is compiled into a bill for introduction to and consideration by the legislature. If the bill becomes law, the council staff prepares a revisor’s report based on the newly enacted revised law. In the report, each section of new law is presented as “Revised Law,” which is immediately followed by the text of the statute from which the revised law is derived, identified as the “Source Law.” If necessary or appropriate, the source law is followed by a “Revisor’s Note” that explains changes and omissions made by the revisor other than those necessary to restate the law in modern American English. The revisor’s report also includes disposition tables so that an interested person may quickly find the revised version of a particular statute. The revisor’s report may also include conforming amendments to other laws made necessary by the revision as well as a list of the statutes to be repealed. Revisor’s reports are available to any interested person.
HB 4171 is the nonsubstantive codification of the Texas Securities Act. The codification will move the Securities Act from Vernon’s Texas Civil Statutes to the Texas Government Code. The codification does not take effect until January 1, 2022.
In addition, each interim the council legal staff prepares an “update” bill that conforms the enacted codes to acts of the last legislature, codifies laws in the appropriate topical code, conforms recently enacted codes to other statutes enacted by the same legislature, and eliminates duplicate section numbers. There will be such an update bill in the 2021 legislative session to incorporate the changes made by House Bill 1535, the Agency's Sunset bill, during the 2019 Legislative Session.