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Law Auto-Expiration

Old laws are forced off the books unless actively renewed.
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Change the constitution of your local government to require old laws to be renewed periodically. Silly old laws that "seemed good at the time" but no longer have public support will cease to be laws after their life cycle expires.

As it stands right now, most antiquated laws are simply not enforced. It is easier to ignore a law than to go through the trouble of actually repealing it. By choosing not to enforce a law that still is technically a law, ordinary good-hearted people are setting themselves up for potentially serious abuses of power.

A law that has been ignored for 100+ years (because it is altogether silly) could suddenly be enforced against a person to gain personal revenge or some political advantage. In reality the motivation for prosecution might have nothing to do with the law under which the individual is prosecuted. Enforcing the law is just a front for a personal agenda.

I propose that every 25 years, an existing law must be re-issued by the appropriate legislative body. If it fails to gain enough support to pass, it is automatically revoked at the end of the period.

Just to keep the existing sytem from crashing down all at once, all the laws currently older than 25 years will have a grace period. All laws presently on the books will be sorted chronologically by creation date. The earliest 4% on the list will expire at the end of next year. The next 4% will expire at the end of the following year, and so on. After 26 years, only laws passed within a quarter century will remain valid.

The laws we need will be renewed. The laws we don't need will expire.

BigBrother, Aug 31 2001

Same Problem, Different Approach http://www.halfbake...tive_20Housekeeping
A different approach was posted earlier by [seal]. [BigBrother, Aug 31 2001, last modified Oct 05 2004]

http://www.dumblaws.com these? [technobadger, Aug 31 2001]

Same Problem, More Profits http://www.halfbakery.com/idea/Scofflaw
I like the thread, generally. [reensure, Aug 31 2001]

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       I was going to suggest a 'use by' date for laws in this annotation, whereby a law must be enforced within a certain period or it expires. Then I realised that it would lead to overzealous policing, prosecuting people just so a law stays 'in date'. Not what I'd want, really. Your idea's much better.
-alx, Sep 01 2001
  

       Seems this was kind of baked in Iceland around the year 1000. Every year, the Althing (a government body) would convene at Thingvellir, and the law-speaker would be required to speak the entire law. (Some web pages I've found say 1/3 of the law). Allegedly, if the law-speaker forgot to speak some part of the law, it was no longer law. This limited the law to what the speaker could remember and say on one day.
wiml, Sep 01 2001
  

       I included this idea in an annotation to another idea somewhere around here. The only difference being that I proposed variable lifespans.   

       Lifespans for laws have the added benefit/detriment of allowing (a) politician(s) to kill a law by saying they were "too busy" to get around to renewing it.
phoenix, Sep 01 2001
  

       I wouldn't trust my government to keep the good laws. They'd probably keep the law we have whereby you can be executed for stealing a horse (true, even though we don't have a death penalty), but let the one about having democratic elections slide.   

       The opposition would oppose anything that the government supported, and as we don't have a majority government, the Greens would decide who to support based on whether they wanted to legalise cannabis or ban GE.   

       Actually, I don't trust our members of parliament to do anything but collect their paycheques. Ah well. We're all screwed. Oh, sorry, no just New Zealanders. The rest of you are REALLY screwed.
zero5, Oct 11 2001
  

       The problem with this (at least in the uk) is that parliament often run out of time as it is. The fox hunting thing has been kicking around for ages and still has not come to a vote. This would practically double the number of things to be done making it even harder for new laws to get in.
RobertKidney, Nov 22 2001
  

       "This would practically double the number of things to be done making it even harder for new laws to get in."   

       You say that like it's a BAD thing.
StarChaser, Nov 22 2001
  

       If all the laws had expiry dates then it would just accelerate the current process whereby Parliament is busy handing over all it's powers to governement ministers. MP's would probably award themselves an 11 month holiday and come back at the end of each year just to confirm the arrangements.

RobertKidney, the reason that the fox hunting bill has been kicked into touch is because the government don't want to implement it. Politicians can always find time for stuff that they consider important.
DrBob, Nov 22 2001
  

       I like the idea where a law has a goal and a way to measure its effectiveness, as well as an expiration time. Then if someone enacts a law to cut down on, say, car theft, they would have to have a goal of X % reduction within Y years. If autotheft wasn't reduced the prescribed amout in Y years, then the law would either be repealed or have to be reenacted the same way a new law is enacted.   

       Sorry, I realize no one has annotated this for over a year. I just have to put in my 2 cents.
jonman, Jan 15 2003
  

       Some laws have withstood the test of time quite well though. Laws against murder, property theft, imminent domain...   

       I suggest that for each time the law is re-issued, it's expiration date is extended. Eventually, laws against murder will be virtually immortal, but parking permit regulations will still need fine tuning now and then.   

       I also forsee a flaw in that some "Important" laws will need to be issued multiple times, so that should the government fail to re-issue one, the act will remain criminal. Multiple versions of the same law often cause legal nightmares.
ye_river_xiv, Sep 30 2007
  
      
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