North Carolina Legislation is another publication that can be traced to the earliest days of the Institute of Government. A lot has changed. It has not served as an effective vehicle for notifying people about newly-enacted legislation for many years. The book is published far too long after the legislative session for it to meet that interest—a number of other organizations put out timely summaries of new legislation. Our main rationale for continuing the book has been to provide a historical record of what happened at the General Assembly. As Michael Crowell has pointed out, it no longer does a very good job of that. In the days when our faculty members staffed legislative committees or worked with legislative study commissions, they were in a position to know first-hand the issues behind legislation, compromises along the way, and different elements of legislative intent. That knowledge informed the chapters of North Carolina Legislation and the book was a valuable reference that became our state’s informal legislative history. Our role at the legislature has changed and we rarely are in a position to know that information and share it in the book.
There was a proposal in our strategic planning process to eliminate North Carolina Legislation. I asked people for their feedback about eliminating the book a couple of weeks ago, and nearly all of the feedback has supported its elimination. We will not publish another edition. This decision will result in considerable savings, especially in terms of the time spent writing the chapters and producing the publication.
Many faculty members create timely summaries of legislation for their client groups, and we need to continue that important work. Beginning this year, we will collect and organize those summaries on our website so that the information will be available electronically. We will not be asking you to revise your client-focused summaries to make them accessible for a general audience. I have asked Christine Wunsche and Tom Thornburg to take the lead on working through the logistical and other issues involved in organizing the information on our website—it still might even appear under the heading North Carolina Legislation. They will be in touch in the coming weeks.