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Federal and Tribal Legislation: Uniform Laws and Model Acts

This guide was prepared to support the research efforts of students in the UNMSOL Federal and Tribal Legislation Course


Organizations like the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) and the American Law Institute (ALI) have historically worked in drafting model and uniform laws such as the Uniform Commercial Code, Uniform Probate Code, and Model Penal Code.

In recent years, there have been efforts among these organizations to work with tribes as well.  For example, the  ULC's Committee on Liaison with Native American Tribes have worked to draft the Model Tribal Secured Transactions Act (MTSTA). The MTSTA is based on the Uniform Commercial Code's (UCC) Article 9 and sets up a legal framework for promotion of private business through secured transactions. Another current project of the ULC is to collaborate with representatives of Indian Country to draft a Model Tribal Probate Code.  

For more on the MTSTA and associated Implementation Guides, please visit the BIA's website on Indian Energy and Economic Development.

Uniform Law Commission

Uniform Law Commission (National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL)) provides states and tribes with non-partisan, well-conceived and well-drafted legislation that brings clarity and stability to critical areas of statutory law.

In 2012, the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws issued an updated series of Drafting Rules (2012 edition).

Uniform Laws Annotated

Uniform Laws Annotated

The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws and the American Law Institute publishes the Uniform Laws Annotated (ULA).  The ULA provides text of uniform or model acts, codes and rules as well as annotations, in the form of commentaries or notes regarding differences in various state laws and summaries of cases decided in adopting jurisdictions interpreting various sections. 

The ULA is published by West and is available in print and online via Westlaw.

Prefatory Notes: Prefatory Notes are published with the the related Uniform Law in Uniform Laws Annotated, after the names of Committee members and before the text of the Law.

PEB Commentaries: Permanent Editorial Board Commentaries are published in Uniform Laws Annotated.

Meeting Handbooks and Transcripts: The Handbooks from each Annual Conference meeting and transcripts of the proceedings of each meeting are available in the NCCUSL add-on to the subscription-based HeinOnline.

Withdrawn Acts: Sometimes the Commissioners give up on an act and withdraw it. If you are unable to locate copies in the law library, you could ontact the Uniform Law Commission for a copy.

American Law Institute

The American Law Institute (ALI), best known for preparing the Restatements of the Law, also prepares model acts and laws; for example, the ALI cooperated with other organizations, including the ULC, to prepare the Model Penal Code.  The ALI website lists its publications and also provides information on its current projects.  One current project of the ALI is reviewing and updating the Model Penal Code sentencing provisions

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