RD98 - Annual Report of the Virginia Commissioners to the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws

Executive Summary:
The ULC convenes as a body once a year. The annual meeting lasts eight to 12 days and is usually held in late July or early August. Throughout the year drafting committees, composed of commissioners, work over several weekends on drafts of legislation to be considered at the annual meeting. The work of the drafting committees is read, line-by-line, and thoroughly debated at the annual meeting. Each act must be considered over a number of years; most are read and debated by the Conference two or more times. Those acts deemed by the ULC to be ready for consideration in the state legislatures are put to a vote of the states. Each state caucuses and votes as a unit.

The governing body of the ULC, the Executive Committee, is composed of officers elected by vote of the commissioners, and five members who are appointed annually by the president of the ULC. Certain activities are conducted by standing committees. For example, the Committee on Scope and Program considers all new subject areas for possible uniform acts. The Legislative Committee superintends the relationships of the Conference to the state legislatures.

The ULC maintains relations with several sister organizations. Official liaison is maintained with the American Bar Association. Additionally, liaison is continually maintained with the American Law Institute, the Council of State Governments, and the National Conference of State Legislatures. Other associations are frequently contacted and advised of Conference activities as interests and activities necessitate.

At the national office in Chicago, a small staff provides administrative and clerical assistance to the ULC and the individual members, as well as advice and coordinating assistance in securing the passage of uniform acts. The staff includes a legislative director/legal counsel, deputy legislative director/legal counsel, legislative counsel, chief administrative officer and communications officer and several administrative assistants. The position of executive director is part time and is traditionally occupied by a law school faculty member. In addition, the ULC contracts with "reporters" for professional services to aid in drafting. Reporters are engaged at modest honoraria to work with drafting committees on specific acts. The Conference also employs professional independent contractors for work on part of its public information and educational materials. The annual budget and audit report of the Conference are available on request.

Members of the ULC contribute numerous hours each year to drafting acts for Conference consideration. Although the members volunteer their time and effort, they are reimbursed for expenses. The cumulative value of the time donated by the commissioners for the development of uniform and model acts conservatively averages $6 million annually.

The work of the ULC strengthens the state and federal system of government. In many areas of the law, the states must solve problems through cooperative action or the issues are likely to be preempted by Congress. The ULC is one of the few institutions that pursue solutions to problems on a cooperative basis by the states. Without the ULC, more legislative activities would undoubtedly shift from the state capitals to Washington, D.C.