What is all that stuff after a statutory section in Colorado Revised Statutes, Annotated?

by Kathy Zambrano

You’re flipping through the 2013 C.R.S. book looking for that amended section that was key to getting a bill passed last session, and there it is, in black and ecru, but you also find stuff following the section. What is that stuff and why is it there?

The text following each section of law in the statutes is editorial and is prepared by the Office of Legislative Legal Services (OLLS) to provide readers with additional information about the laws, such as when the law was added, amended, or repealed; how the law is to be applied; or the case law interpreting, upholding, or invalidating the statute.

The first note you come to after you’ve read the C.R.S. section is a Source Note. The source note is essentially a running history of what has happened to the section, legislatively, since its creation. The source note is arranged in a chronological order and indicates the year the section of law was added and each year it was modified, what the modification was to the section, where the bill that modified the section is found in the session laws, and its effective date. The reader can look at page vi at the beginning of the statutes for detailed information on source notes.

The next item that you see is an Editor’s Note. The OLLS adds an editor’s note to help clarify or give information that isn’t obvious otherwise. The editor’s note you find following the statutory section you just read informs you about the applicability of the section. This brings to mind the discussions in committee about the concerns of when and to whom the proposed changes would apply and the amendment the drafter wrote to address those concerns. And now, there it is repeated in an editor’s note following the section.

Next, you read a Cross Reference that refers you to the nonstatutory legislative declaration or short title that was included in a bill. The cross reference lists the chapter number in the session laws where the nonstatutory legislative declaration or short title is found. The OLLS staff includes cross references in the statutes to provide the reader with information that may be of interest. Not only do we include references to nonstatutory legislative declarations or short titles, we also list other C.R.S. sections or federal laws that relate to the theme of the section the reader is reviewing or provide a citation to an act that is referenced in the statutory section.

The last thing you find following your section are Annotations. These are summaries of court cases that interpret or are decided under statutory law. Of course, an amended section from a bill may have annotations, but you will need to look at the year(s) of the court cases and compare it to the information in the source note to determine whether or not litigation was based on the changes made by a bill.

These are the most common notes that follow statutory sections. Other notes you may run across are Official Comments. These comments are prepared by the National Commission on Uniform State Laws and are included in the statutes when the OLLS is directed by the bill or by the sponsor of a bill to print the official comments of law that is a uniform piece of legislation.

In conclusion, a lot of information can be gleaned from perusing the statutes, in addition to the actual law.