Friday, January 2, 2015

Effective Dates of Statutes

The New Year is more than a fresh start for post-holiday diets and personal goals. It's also often the effective date for new legislation which was enacted in the previous year. Legislative research service StateScape offers a handy chart of Effective Dates for state legislation. Effective dates vary widely by jurisdiction, and individual bills can also specify a different effective date than a jurisdiction's general rule. When reading a session law or code section online or in print, look for a note about its effective date, usually located at either the top of the screen (particularly online) or at the end of the law's text (especially in print). These notes help legal researchers determine whether a particular law was in force on a specific date in time.

So what new laws took effect on January 1? Here in North Carolina, the Legislative Library has compiled a helpful chart of 2013-2014 legislation sorted by effective dates. The 20+ new state laws which took effect on the first of the year begin on page 13 of the document, and they include a new mandatory retirement age for magistrate judges, criminal background checks for firefighters and emergency personnel, and tightened restrictions on state candidates in a primary election. USA Today explores changes to other states' laws as of the new year. Many other states will see a boost to their minimum wage laws in effect as of January 1, although North Carolina is not one of them. At the federal level, new regulations approved by the Department of Labor in October have also raised the minimum wage for certain federal contractors – a good reminder that effective dates are also important to note when researching regulations as well as statutes.

To learn more about effective dates of statutes, consult chapter 33 ("Time of Taking Effect") in the treatise Sutherland on Statutes and Statutory Construction (KF425 .S966 or on WestlawNext: SUTHERLAND database) or Ask a Librarian.