Two Quarters and a Penny: Hello Title 51!

After more than eight decades of 50 titles in the U.S. Code, there is a new neighbor on the block. Bill H.R. 3237 was signed by President Barack Obama in December 18, 2010, and became Public Law 111-314. Title 51, also known as “National and Commercial Space Programs,” is a compilation of existing general law related to space programs.

The Office of Law Revision Counsel explains

Over the past five decades, a substantial amount of legislation was enacted relating to national and commercial space programs. In the United States Code, some of these provisions appeared in title 15 (Commerce and Trade), some in title 42 (The Public Health and Welfare), and some in title 49 (Transportation). No distinct title for national and commercial space programs existed in the United States Code because the organizational scheme for the Code was originally established in 1926, before such programs were contemplated.

Public Law 111-314 gathers provisions relating to national and commercial space programs, and restates the provisions as title 51, United States Code, “National and Commercial Space Programs”. Public Law 111-314 does not provide for any new programs. Nor does it modify or repeal any existing programs. Rather, the Act restates existing law in a manner adhering to the policy, intent, and purpose of the original enactments, while improving the organizational structure of the law and removing ambiguities, contradictions, and other imperfections.

But wait…there’s more. Titles 52 – 55 are also in the works. These proposed titles are:  Title 52 Voting and Elections, Title 53 Small Business, Title 54 National Park System and Title 55 Environment. As with Title 51, these titles will be comprised of exiting law and will become positive law upon enactment.