Thursday, May 11, 2006

Naming Legislative Bills

Wondering why so many of today's legislative bills and acts seem to have abandoned the time honored tradition of using the bill number (e.g., H.R. 480) or sponsor name (e.g., Gramm-Rudman-Hollings) as a reference? Why when "Congress . . . cracked down on unwanted e-mails" it came up with the CAN-SPAM Act — for Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing. Or why "Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) named her bill to require labels on certain fragrances the SNIFF Act, short for the Safe Notification and Information for Fragrances Act." For the answers, try a recent L.A. Times article, "The Fine Art of Legislation Appellation," by Richard Simon.

According to Simon, "acronyms help explain what the bill is all about. They are proof that even bill names have become part of Washington's all-consuming political spin." Nonetheless, "[e]ven a catchy name can take a bill only so far. Of the thousands of bills introduced in each session, only a few hundred ever make it into law."

SOURCE: beSpacific

1 comment:

Mary Whisner said...

For more on the naming of statutes -- including more examples of acronyms -- see What’s in a Statute Name?, 97 Law Libr. J. 169-83 (2005), available at