Shall and May

The following phrases may be seen in bills or resolutions:

The legislature shall do. . .


The legislature may do...

Any time the word "may" or  "shall" appears in a bill, it should be noted.  The word used may have a major impact on the effect of the bill.  Depending on which word is used, the sentence may be describing an order which must be obeyed, or simply authorizing a state agency to do something if it wants to do so.  The word "shall" should be interpreted as an order and the analysis of the bill should assume that the agency must follow the instructions of the bill.  If the word "may" is used, you can not automatically assume that the agency will do it.  This can make a difference in determining the impact of the bill and the administrative cost of implementing it.