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[Draft] Fines and Fees Reform Act

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Kowani
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[Draft] Fines and Fees Reform Act

Postby Kowani » Sat Oct 02, 2021 12:20 pm

My second foray into the GA, being primarily a NSGer
anyway, if you could take a look over this, that'd be great!

Category: Civil Rights
Strength: Significant


The World Assembly,
Understanding that not all people have the same representation in the justice system,
Recognizing that differential access to resources should not be cause for incarceration-induced poverty,
Realizing that allowing the existence of a monetary factor creates a perverse incentive for any justice system,

Hereby,
1.
  1. Notes that "fines or fees" or any combination thereof in this legislation should be understood to refer to court or police mandated financial restitution, save for judgements rendered in civil court
  2. Notes that for the purposes of this legislation, "detention facilities" refers to jails, prisons, or any other facility where individuals are held in official custody for an extended period of time for committing or allegedly committing an action prohibited by law
2.
  1. Prohibits the sole determinant in one's eligibility for pre-trial detention to be an ability or inability to pay or have a third party pay a fine, fee, court debt, or bail cost
  2. Clarifies that the above does not prohibit economic status from being used as a factor in assessing pre-trial detention status
  3. Recommends that nations adapt their schema for assessing pre-trial detention status to one based on public safety and/or flight risk
  4. Recommends that nations or subnational jurisdictions adopt universal bail guidelines so as to impose a uniform and fair pre-trial detention framework
  5. Recommends that nations adopt Unsecured Bonds as a substitute in order to mitigate the fiscal impact upon their justice systems
3.
  1. Prohibits member states from suspending, confiscating, or invalidating a driver's license, bus pass, train pass, or equivalent documentation allowing an individual the ability to use transportation for unpaid fines, fees, or court debt
  2. Clarifies that the above clause does not apply to international transit
  3. Retroactively reinstates the documentation mentioned in Clause 3a, so long as the suspension was solely for non-payment
  4. Prohibits the arrest or detention of individuals for inability to afford a ticket for a traffic violation
  5. Prohibits the suspension, confiscation, or invalidation of a work permit for unpaid fines, fees, or court debt
  6. Prohibits the issuing of arrest warrants over unpaid court debt as long as other methods of collection are possible
  7. Prohibits courts from issuing fines and fees to minors who are not legally permitted to work
  8. Clarifies that the above clause does not prohibit fines or fees from being issued to the legal guardians of said minors in their stead
  9. Prohibits any law enforcement agency, court, or other agent of the state from setting interest that exceeds the projected inflation rate in the most relevant administrative jurisdiction on fines, fees, or outstanding court debt
  10. Prohibits mandatory surcharges on convictions or court procedures
4.
  1. Requires that courts make public in a timely manner their reasoning for remanding an individual to pre-trial detention.
  2. Requires that, in cases where financial bail is set, that the court take into account the ability of the defendant to pay said bail.
  3. Prohibits courts from setting bail costs based upon arbitrary factors that do not pose a risk to public safety or flight risk
  4. Prohibits officers of a court from having their salary be based upon the number of individuals they detain
  5. Strongly recommends that officers of a court not derive their salary from the revenues extracted from the fines or fees imposed upon individuals who pass through the legal system
5.
  1. Requires that, in the case of prison labour, incarcerated or detained people be paid no less than the legally mandated minimum wage in the administrative division where their facility is located, in the currency of the nation where they reside
  2. If detainees are the only substantial population in their administrative jurisdiction, they shall be paid the legally mandated minimum wage of the closest substantial non-incarcerated population within the nation
  3. Mandates that wages incurred from labour while incarcerated or detained shall not be garnished, withheld, or confiscated by any party while the detainee remains incarcerated
  4. Prevents detention facilities from charging detainees for their incarceration
  5. Requires that detention facilities take into account the median income of a detainee in their facility before setting prices for communication services, including but not limited to phone calls, letter writing, video calls, or telegrams

The World Assembly,
Understanding that not all people have the same representation in the justice system,
Recognizing that differential access to resources should not be cause for incarceration-induced
poverty,
Realizing that allowing the existence of a monetary factor creates a perverse incentive for any
justice system,

Hereby,
1.
  1. Notes that "fines or fees" or any combination thereof in this legislation should be understood to
    refer to court or police mandated financial restitution
  2. Notes that for the purposes of this legislation, "detention facilities" refers to jails, prisons, or any
    other facility where individuals are held in official custody for an extended period of time for
    committing or allegedly committing an action prohibited by law
2.
  1. Prohibits the sole determinant in one's eligibility for pre-trial detention to be an ability or
    inability to pay or have a third party pay a fine, fee, court debt, or bail cost
  2. Clarifies that the above does not prohibit economic status from being used as a factor in
    assessing pre-trial detention status
  3. Recommends that nations adapt their schema for assessing pre-trial detention status to one
    based on public safety and/or flight risk
  4. Recommends that nations or subnational jurisdictions adopt universal bail guidelines so as to
    impose a uniform and fair pre-trial detention framework
  5. Recommends that nations adopt Unsecured Bonds as a substitute in order to mitigate the
    fiscal impact upon their justice systems
3.
  1. Prohibits member states from suspending, confiscating, or invalidating a driver's
    license, bus pass, train pass, or equivalent documentation allowing an individual the ability to
    use transportation for unpaid fines, fees, or court debt
  2. Clarifies that the above clause does not apply to international transit
  3. Retroactively reinstates the documentation mentioned in Clause 3a, so long as the
    suspension was solely for non-payment
  4. Prohibits the arrest or detention of individuals for inability to afford a ticket for a traffic violation
  5. Prohibits the suspension, confiscation, or invalidation of a work permit for unpaid fines, fees,
    or court debt
  6. Prohibits the issuing of arrest warrants over unpaid court debt as long as other methods of
    collection have not been exhausted
  7. Prohibits courts from issuing fines and fees to individuals who are not legally permitted to
    work
  8. Prohibits any law enforcement agency, court, or other agent of the state from setting interest on fines, fees, or outstanding court debt
  9. Prohibits mandatory surcharges on convictions or court procedures
4.
  1. Requires that courts make public in a timely manner their reasoning for remanding an individual to pre-trial detention.
  2. Requires that, in cases where financial bail is set, that the court take into account the ability of the defendant to pay said bail.
  3. Prohibits courts from setting bail costs based upon arbitrary factors that do not pose a risk to public safety or flight risk
  4. Prohibits officers of a court from having their salary be based upon the number of individuals they detain
  5. Strongly recommends that officers of a court not derive their salary from the revenues extracted from the fines or fees imposed upon individuals who pass through the legal system
5.
  1. Requires that, in the case of prison labour, incarcerated or detained people be paid no
    less than the legally mandated minimum wage in the administrative division where their facility is
    located, in the currency of the nation where they reside
  2. If detainees are the only substantial population in their administrative jurisdiction, they shall be
    paid the legally mandated minimum wage of the closest substantial non-incarcerated population
    within the nation
  3. Mandates that wages incurred from labour while incarcerated or detained shall not be
    garnished, withheld, or confiscated by any party while the detainee remains incarcerated
  4. Prevents detention facilities from charging detainees for their incarceration
  5. Requires that detention facilities take into account the median income of a detainee in their
    facility before setting prices for communication services, including but not limited to phone calls,
    letter writing, video calls, telegrams or telegraphs
Last edited by Kowani on Sat Oct 09, 2021 10:24 am, edited 8 times in total.
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Tinhampton
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Postby Tinhampton » Sat Oct 02, 2021 12:34 pm

Lydia Anderson, Assistant to the Delegate-Ambassador: The excessive number of line-breaks in your draft are offputting. Otherwise, this looks acceptable at a first glance - even to me.
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Xanthorrhoea
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Postby Xanthorrhoea » Sat Oct 02, 2021 3:10 pm

The idea here is a good one, and it’s very clear you’ve spent a long time drafting this and considering the loopholes and effects of this proposal.

That said, I have a few questions about some of the clauses.

1. a. Notes that "fines or fees" or any combination thereof in this legislation should be understood to refer to court or police mandated financial restitution

The way this is written, this includes civil judgements for compensation. I think this causes some problems with later clauses.

2. c. Recommends that nations adopt Unsecured Bonds as a substitute in order to mitigate the fiscal impact upon their justice systems

I’m curious about why you chose to include this clause. It’s so specific, there’s obviously a reason, but my legal/fiscal knowledge isn’t enough for me to figure it out. Would you mind explaining your thought process for us dummies?

3. a. Prohibits member states from suspending, confiscating, or invalidating a driver's
license, bus pass, train pass, or equivalent documentation allowing an individual the ability to
use transportation for unpaid fines, fees, or court debt

Doesn’t this effectively mean I don’t have to pay for a driver’s licence/bus pass ever? I feel like fees for using the bus/processing your licence are covered by your definition in clause 1, which means that I could get a bus pass, use it, never pay a cent, and there’s no avenue for anyone to force me to pay it. This clause doesn’t apply to private companies however, so it seems to force nations to either be unable to enforce any payment of transport services, or privatise them all.

3. f. Prohibits the issuing of arrest warrants over unpaid court debt as long as other methods of collection are possible

I don’t like this wording. Asking nicely is always possible, but I doubt it will work. I’d suggest changing “are possible” to “have been exhausted,” as it preserves the intent I believe you’re going for while allowing arrest warrants to still be used.

3. g. Prohibits courts from issuing fines and fees to individuals who are not legally permitted to work

I think this is probably fine, but I wonder how this affects fine/fees/damages for kids’ actions. It might be worth making explicit that this does not prohibit issuing fines and fees to the legal guardians of minors/legally incapable people. I’m also curious about how this affects people on welfare. If I’m on welfare and unable to work due to a medical issue, and I do something that would usually result in a fine, how should I be penalised? Does reducing my welfare payments count as a fine? If so, given I can’t be financially penalised, what should the court do?

3. h. Prohibits any law enforcement agency, court, or other agent of the state from setting interest on fines, fees, or outstanding court debt

I don’t like this as it incentivises non-payment as the best strategy, and messes with civil cases. If inflation exists at all then delaying payment of fines/fees effectively reduces them, so everyone is incentivised to delay payment as long as possible, as they end up paying less. This also messes with court orders for civil cases. If my (ex) friend smashes their car into my house, and they’re found liable for damages, then every day they don’t pay, I lose money. The civil courts would not be pleased by this clause. I’d suggest altering this clause to prohibit setting interest above the rate of inflation, as it neutralises the incentive not to pay.

Strongly recommends that officers of a court not derive their salary from the revenues extracted from the fines or fees imposed upon individuals who pass through the legal system

I’m curious why this is a recommendation rather than a prohibition. I’d like to know your reasoning.

5. a. Requires that, in the case of prison labour, incarcerated or detained people be paid no less than the legally mandated minimum wage in the administrative division where their facility is located, in the currency of the nation where they reside

I assume this is to prevent the whole prisoners effectively becoming slaves/indentured labour situation, which I 100% agree with. Having said that, a substantial part of calculating minimum wage is the cost of living, which in prison is substantially reduced, given that accomodation/food etc are provided by the facility. This means that prisoners are effectively paid above minimum wage, as they have fewer costs than everyone else. While I don’t hate that consequence, I wonder whether people with few social connections in a society that treats ex-cons well might be tempted to go to prison for a pay raise. That’s probably the lesser of the two evils, but I wonder if you could find a way to avoid that circumstance.

Lastly, I’m afraid this proposal might have the unintended effect of increasing incarceration rates. By reducing alternatives to jail, nations may simply alter their laws to remove financial penalties, and replace them with jail time. e.g. instead of having to go through the convoluted mess of trying to enforce a speeding fine, why not just make speeding a jailable offence and remove fines completely as a penalty? Seems far easier.

You seem to have expertise or be very well-read on this issue, so I’m curious to hear your thoughts on these problems.

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Kowani
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Postby Kowani » Sat Oct 02, 2021 11:31 pm

Tinhampton wrote:Lydia Anderson, Assistant to the Delegate-Ambassador: The excessive number of line-breaks in your draft are offputting. Otherwise, this looks acceptable at a first glance - even to me.

Noted-I see several clauses dealing with similar mechanism that I can merge together in the next draft version to make it less clunky. Thanks!

Xanthorrhoea wrote:The idea here is a good one, and it’s very clear you’ve spent a long time drafting this and considering the loopholes and effects of this proposal.

That said, I have a few questions about some of the clauses.

1. a. Notes that "fines or fees" or any combination thereof in this legislation should be understood to refer to court or police mandated financial restitution

The way this is written, this includes civil judgements for compensation. I think this causes some problems with later clauses.
Hmm, I can see that. I could just stick an exemptions clause in there to cover that.
2. c. Recommends that nations adopt Unsecured Bonds as a substitute in order to mitigate the fiscal impact upon their justice systems

I’m curious about why you chose to include this clause. It’s so specific, there’s obviously a reason, but my legal/fiscal knowledge isn’t enough for me to figure it out. Would you mind explaining your thought process for us dummies?

To oversimplify the mechanics a bit, it achieves bail's purpose of getting people to show up to court while avoiding the fiscal/humanitarian problems of pre-trial detention based on income.
3. a. Prohibits member states from suspending, confiscating, or invalidating a driver's
license, bus pass, train pass, or equivalent documentation allowing an individual the ability to
use transportation for unpaid fines, fees, or court debt

Doesn’t this effectively mean I don’t have to pay for a driver’s licence/bus pass ever? I feel like fees for using the bus/processing your licence are covered by your definition in clause 1, which means that I could get a bus pass, use it, never pay a cent, and there’s no avenue for anyone to force me to pay it. This clause doesn’t apply to private companies however, so it seems to force nations to either be unable to enforce any payment of transport services, or privatise them all.
Ah, the confusion here is in the cause clause-using the definition of "fines and fees" laid out in 1a, we see that rather than making these things free/unenforceable, it merely prevents states from preventing their use based on nonpaid court fees/fines.
Though most bus passes are paid for at point of purchase (or at least before one gets on the bus) so it's not really a "court/police mandated restitution" anyway...
3. f. Prohibits the issuing of arrest warrants over unpaid court debt as long as other methods of collection are possible

I don’t like this wording. Asking nicely is always possible, but I doubt it will work. I’d suggest changing “are possible” to “have been exhausted,” as it preserves the intent I believe you’re going for while allowing arrest warrants to still be used.
makes sense, i can put that into the next draft
3. g. Prohibits courts from issuing fines and fees to individuals who are not legally permitted to work

I think this is probably fine, but I wonder how this affects fine/fees/damages for kids’ actions. It might be worth making explicit that this does not prohibit issuing fines and fees to the legal guardians of minors/legally incapable people. I’m also curious about how this affects people on welfare. If I’m on welfare and unable to work due to a medical issue, and I do something that would usually result in a fine, how should I be penalised? Does reducing my welfare payments count as a fine? If so, given I can’t be financially penalised, what should the court do?

Hmm. I think I'll reword that clause to encompass benefits-I haven't quite figured out the exact wording-probably an "either/or" gate
3. h. Prohibits any law enforcement agency, court, or other agent of the state from setting interest on fines, fees, or outstanding court debt

I don’t like this as it incentivises non-payment as the best strategy, and messes with civil cases. If inflation exists at all then delaying payment of fines/fees effectively reduces them, so everyone is incentivised to delay payment as long as possible, as they end up paying less. This also messes with court orders for civil cases. If my (ex) friend smashes their car into my house, and they’re found liable for damages, then every day they don’t pay, I lose money. The civil courts would not be pleased by this clause. I’d suggest altering this clause to prohibit setting interest above the rate of inflation, as it neutralises the incentive not to pay.
good points, will put that in
Strongly recommends that officers of a court not derive their salary from the revenues extracted from the fines or fees imposed upon individuals who pass through the legal system

I’m curious why this is a recommendation rather than a prohibition. I’d like to know your reasoning.
an accommodation for undeveloped/weak court systems, mostly
personally I'd like to have a full-out prohibition but the WA incorporates many nations in differing states of array
5. a. Requires that, in the case of prison labour, incarcerated or detained people be paid no less than the legally mandated minimum wage in the administrative division where their facility is located, in the currency of the nation where they reside

I assume this is to prevent the whole prisoners effectively becoming slaves/indentured labour situation, which I 100% agree with. Having said that, a substantial part of calculating minimum wage is the cost of living, which in prison is substantially reduced, given that accomodation/food etc are provided by the facility. This means that prisoners are effectively paid above minimum wage, as they have fewer costs than everyone else. While I don’t hate that consequence, I wonder whether people with few social connections in a society that treats ex-cons well might be tempted to go to prison for a pay raise. That’s probably the lesser of the two evils, but I wonder if you could find a way to avoid that circumstance.
I would probably argue that the nature of prison makes up for a temporary wage increase-but also, trying to workshop a formula for that would either be insanely wonky, entirely arbitrary, or non-viable (consider a jurisdiction where the minimum wage is not scalable to the cost of living, for example).

Lastly, I’m afraid this proposal might have the unintended effect of increasing incarceration rates. By reducing alternatives to jail, nations may simply alter their laws to remove financial penalties, and replace them with jail time. e.g. instead of having to go through the convoluted mess of trying to enforce a speeding fine, why not just make speeding a jailable offence and remove fines completely as a penalty? Seems far easier.

You seem to have expertise or be very well-read on this issue, so I’m curious to hear your thoughts on these problems.

Well there's the first problem that trying to make things currently punished with a fine things penalized with incarceration is...let's not call it a popular decision-(and for many things, would very quickly destroy a nation with such a large portion of the population in prisons).
These things aren't usually incarcation-worthy for a reason, after all-but in addition, there aren't actually that many new hoops added to enforcing fines besides attempting to use methods other than arrest first-even traffic violations non-incarceration clause is dependent upon inability to pay. But that's not a very large administrative burden to place on the courts, I don't think.
Last edited by Kowani on Sat Oct 02, 2021 11:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Kowani » Mon Oct 04, 2021 4:54 pm

New version up!
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Postby Kowani » Sat Oct 09, 2021 2:10 am

since this hasn't gotten much feedback outside of the original two posters (thanks for that btw), I'm going assume there aren't any major objections remaining
with that, I'm going to leave this up for 24 hours before submitting the Second Draft which will inevitably fail
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Postby Honeydewistania » Sat Oct 09, 2021 2:16 am

Kowani wrote:since this hasn't gotten much feedback outside of the original two posters (thanks for that btw), I'm going assume there aren't any major objections remaining
with that, I'm going to leave this up for 24 hours before submitting the Second Draft which will inevitably fail

You should leave it up for longer. It's been up for less than a week. Some people may not even know this exists.

Question: why the need to say fine, or fees all the time? Wouldn't it be easier just to say one only if they both refer to the same thing (since they share a definition).
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Kowani
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Postby Kowani » Sat Oct 09, 2021 10:24 am

Honeydewistania wrote:
Kowani wrote:since this hasn't gotten much feedback outside of the original two posters (thanks for that btw), I'm going assume there aren't any major objections remaining
with that, I'm going to leave this up for 24 hours before submitting the Second Draft which will inevitably fail

You should leave it up for longer. It's been up for less than a week. Some people may not even know this exists.
the GA really moves at a slower pace than NSG, huh?
very well
Question: why the need to say fine, or fees all the time? Wouldn't it be easier just to say one only if they both refer to the same thing (since they share a definition).

well that's the thing-in common parlance they don't (the primary difference being ostensible intention)
i'm grouping them together here based on what i want the legislation to encompass but doing it this way allows for minimal confusion
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Postby Imperium Anglorum » Sat Oct 09, 2021 2:19 pm

Can we have sentences instead of whatever format this is in?

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Postby Desmosthenes and Burke » Sat Oct 09, 2021 5:44 pm

Kowani wrote:1.
  1. Notes that "fines or fees" or any combination thereof in this legislation should be understood to refer to court or police mandated financial restitution, save for judgements rendered in civil court


We find this a most idiosyncratic definition ambassador, and one which your delegation should rework significantly, as we believe it represents a serious misunderstanding of the nature of the beast you are trying to tackle. At least from our perspective all this definition does is randomly redefine restitution and disgorgement (legal remedies that are meant to represent the return of property or value to one from whom it was taken) as fines and fees, while not actually addressing actual monetary penalties imposed by courts in the forms of ACTUAL fines, fees, and costs.

OOC:

See: https://definitions.uslegal.com/r/restitution/
Restitution is a monetary payment sometimes ordered to be made as part of a judgment in negligence and/or contracts cases to restore a loss. In criminal cases, it may be one of the penalties imposed and may require return of stolen goods to the victim or payment to the victim for harm caused.


and compare with

https://definitions.uslegal.com/f/fine/ (emphasis added)
A sum of money, which, by judgment of a competent jurisdiction, is required to be paid for the punishment of an offence. This is a pecuniary punishment imposed by court, upon a person convicted of crime or misdemeanor.


Your definition is conflating concepts that are distinct from each other in law and serve different purposes. Of course, this would be easier to parse if, as has been suggested, your formatted this in a more appropriate style.
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Postby Kowani » Mon Oct 11, 2021 7:52 pm

Imperium Anglorum wrote:Can we have sentences instead of whatever format this is in?

i have no idea what this is asking for

Desmosthenes and Burke wrote:
Kowani wrote:1.
  1. Notes that "fines or fees" or any combination thereof in this legislation should be understood to refer to court or police mandated financial restitution, save for judgements rendered in civil court


We find this a most idiosyncratic definition ambassador, and one which your delegation should rework significantly, as we believe it represents a serious misunderstanding of the nature of the beast you are trying to tackle. At least from our perspective all this definition does is randomly redefine restitution and disgorgement (legal remedies that are meant to represent the return of property or value to one from whom it was taken) as fines and fees, while not actually addressing actual monetary penalties imposed by courts in the forms of ACTUAL fines, fees, and costs.

OOC:

See: https://definitions.uslegal.com/r/restitution/
Restitution is a monetary payment sometimes ordered to be made as part of a judgment in negligence and/or contracts cases to restore a loss. In criminal cases, it may be one of the penalties imposed and may require return of stolen goods to the victim or payment to the victim for harm caused.


and compare with

https://definitions.uslegal.com/f/fine/ (emphasis added)
A sum of money, which, by judgment of a competent jurisdiction, is required to be paid for the punishment of an offence. This is a pecuniary punishment imposed by court, upon a person convicted of crime or misdemeanor.


Your definition is conflating concepts that are distinct from each other in law and serve different purposes. Of course, this would be easier to parse if, as has been suggested, your formatted this in a more appropriate style.

while i will try to workshop a better definition (since this is a rather large hole), i don't really think a statute that revolves around intention is going to work the best as a substitution
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Postby Imperium Anglorum » Mon Oct 11, 2021 8:05 pm

Kowani wrote:
Imperium Anglorum wrote:Can we have sentences instead of whatever format this is in?

i have no idea what this is asking for

Write with sentences. Like:

If a Money Bill, having been passed by the House of Commons, and sent up to the House of Lords at least one month before the end of the session, is not passed by the House of Lords without amendment within one month after it is so sent up to that House, the Bill shall, unless the House of Commons direct to the contrary, be presented to His Majesty and become an Act of Parliament on the Royal Assent being signified, notwithstanding that the House of Lords have not consented to the Bill.

Instead of your very strange format of constantly repeating similar verbs over and over again. It's clearer to write with sentences and also easier to group thematically.

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Founded: Apr 01, 2018
Democratic Socialists

Postby Kowani » Mon Oct 11, 2021 9:03 pm

Imperium Anglorum wrote:
Kowani wrote:i have no idea what this is asking for

Write with sentences. Like:

If a Money Bill, having been passed by the House of Commons, and sent up to the House of Lords at least one month before the end of the session, is not passed by the House of Lords without amendment within one month after it is so sent up to that House, the Bill shall, unless the House of Commons direct to the contrary, be presented to His Majesty and become an Act of Parliament on the Royal Assent being signified, notwithstanding that the House of Lords have not consented to the Bill.

Instead of your very strange format of constantly repeating similar verbs over and over again. It's clearer to write with sentences and also easier to group thematically.

i see

right, then, that'll be a larger rewrite
Adjunct Professor of Cultural Marxism at the Frankfurt School
It’s politics, everything short of a non-binding resolution announcing national cookie day is hard.
Updating Trackers! How Congress votes, what Americans believe, redistricting, strikes, and world leader approvals

Headline of the day: US House to vote to raise Debt Limit, stave off economic collapse


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