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To follow up on yesterday’s blog post, “Historical Codifications of Massachusetts Law”, recodifying the law every twenty years or so became a burdensome process.

“Before 1921, few, if any of the Acts and Resolves passed during a legislative session were written to mesh with the official codification of the General Statues, although an official code existed continuously since 1836. . . Partly as a means of avoiding the time and expense of recodification, in 1920, the legislature provided by statute for permanent legal counsel to the House of Representatives and Senate to index all General Statues passed in the previous year’s legislative session and incorporate them into the General Laws of 1921; the aim was to create a continuous consolidation system. See G.L. c. 3, §§ 5153. [“The Committees on rules of the senate and house of representatives shall each appoint a skilled person to act as counsel to the senate and house of representatives . . .” ]

This continuous system obviated the need to revise or recodify the General Laws as a unit and is referred to as a compilation or recompilation. The legislature recompiled the statutes in 1932 and 1984 and thereafter every two years, with monthly publications of amendments. These editions are referred to not as codifications but as compilations or republications of the last codification, as amended. . . However, a compilation is as authoritative as a codification once it is adopted by the legislature. . .

The official edition of the General Laws has been published in paperbound format since 1984. See Res. 1983, c. 1; Res. 1984, c. 4. The set is published by the General Court and Thomson Reuters. It is reissued every two years and supplemented with monthly cumulative pamphlets and an annual cumulative update volume.”

From Chapter 2, “Statutes and Session Laws” by Hon. Margot Botsford (Ret.) and Karen Dean-Smith, Esq. in Handbook of Legal Research in Massachusetts, 4th Edition, edited by Mary Ann Neary, MCLE, Inc. 2017.

Certification- M.G.L. c. 3, section 51_p001

Certification by the Secretary of the Commonwealth that the Index and the Table of Changes in the 2017 volume of the Massachusetts Acts and Resolves were prepared in accordance with the provisions of M.G.L. c. 3, § 51.


Title page of the July 2019 Cumulative Pamphlet for the General Laws of Massachusetts listing the names of Jennifer G. Miller as Counsel to the Senate, James G. Kennedy as Chief Legal Counsel of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, and Charles T. Martel as Editor of the pamphlet.

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