STEP 3: REVIEW DRAFTING RECORDS
Drafting records may contain information regarding the intent of a legislator in introducing a bill. Drafting records are an administrative record of the bill drafting process. They are official records maintained by the drafting agency, the Legislative Reference Bureau (LRB), in systematic, uniform fashion. The maintenance of these records over decades has left us with a unique file for each bill introduced and act passed since 1927, with a few isolated exceptions.
Drafting records have a number of limitations, however, that often leave researchers disappointed. The main weakness of a drafting record in researching legislative history is that, as an administrative record, it is not designed to document intent. The drafting record is primarily designed to document that a bill has been drafted by the LRB in accordance with the instructions of a member of the legislature, and to facilitate the drafting of similar or identical proposals in the future. The resulting drafting file, more often that not, sheds little light on intent. The content of the records can vary considerably. The drafting file for a drafting request that was made in person or over the telephone is usually not very revealing. The drafting file for a drafting request that contains written documentation of the requester’s problem and proposed solution, together with the other background information, can be more revealing, but is far less common. Another weakness is that the arrangement and administrative nature of drafting records can make them daunting to use for researchers unfamiliar with them. It is easy for an inexperienced user to glance right past the revealing documents and focus on lesser items. Drafting records often require expert explanation or interpretation. This is why it is recommended that inexperienced researchers do their work at the LRB’s Theobald Legislative Library