Overview | Searching | Hits on Page | "All" vs. "Any" | Phonetic Searching | Begins With Searching | Relevance
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The Internet version of the MCA has two avenues to finding a section of law: burrowing through the table of contents and searching.
The Table of Contents is an arrangement of the law based upon subject matter. The name of a Title, chapter, part, and section reflect its subject matter. Within the Table of Contents click on the most appropriate Title, then chapter, then part, and finally section. When you are at a section, you can browse backwards and forward through sections.
Searching is based upon the whether certain key words are present in a section.
Each MCA section is a separate web page. This allows copying and pasting material from a section into a document.
Hits on Page:
The search engine will find pages that match your search criteria, but it does not bold or otherwise highlight a search term within a page (this is also the case with most internet search engines). If you want to search within a page for a certain term you must use the browser's "find" function. With Microsoft Internet Explorer go to "Edit", "Find (on this Page)...", enter the search word and then click on "Find Next".
"All" vs. "Any":
If you enter more than one word to search for, the search engine will apply Boolean (and/or) logic to determine what pages match your search.
Selecting "all" in the Find pages with pop-up menu performs a Boolean AND search if more than one word is provided to search with. For example, a search using the words "Gretzky Great One" is essentially looking for "Gretzky" AND "Great" AND "One" on the same page. Only pages that contain all of the search words are returned.
Selecting "any" in the Find pages with pop-up menu performs a Boolean OR search if more than one word is provided to search with. Any page with at least one of the search words will be returned.
AND searching ("all") will usually return a smaller list of pages found. OR searching ("any") will generally produce a much larger number of pages found, especially when many keywords are entered in the search string.
The search engine will search for words phonetically if you check the "Search Phonetically" check box. This can be helpful if you are unsure of the spelling of a word. For example, searching for "Greatski" or "Gredsky" will find pages with the word "Gretzky". For phonetic searching to work, the first letter of the word must be correct.
Begins With Searching:
Selecting the Begins With Searching option performs a basic wild card search. The index is searched for words that start with each search term. For example, entering the word "goal" will find pages with "goal", "goalie", "goalkeeper", "goalpost", etc.
Search results are always sorted by relevance (the most relevant first). Relevance is based on the number of occurrences and positioning of words as they appear in each document. For example, words in the HTML TITLE tag are weighted heavier than words that are contained in the body of the page. The search engine gives increased weight to words occurring in the catchline.
The most relevant page is displayed showing 100% relevance. Each additional page displays a percentage relative to the most relevant page. For example, if the most relevant page scored a 20 and the next page scored 16, the second page would display a relevance of 80%.
The search engine does not include common words such as "also", "been" and "there" in the index. These words are ignored when searching. If one or more is used in a search, a message will be displayed on the results page indicating which words were noise words.
Some punctuation characters within words are indexed. This makes it possible to search for words like "CD-ROM" or "Version 2.5". Apostrophes, such as in contractions like "don't", are not indexed.
The characters $ and - are indexed when they appear at the beginning of words. Characters , . / - and $ are indexed when they appear inside a word. Punctuation at the end of words is never indexed.
When searching, you may need to try several possible combinations of a word containing punctuation. A word such as "e-mail", which is not consistently hyphenated, is a good example.
Scope of Constitution and Law: This version contains the enactments of the 2017 regular session. The annotations, other than histories, are not provided in the Internet version of the MCA. For annotations consult either the printed Annotations to the MCA or the CD-ROM version of the MCA. The printed version is available at most libraries in Montana and both are for sale by the Legislative Services Division.
Preface to MCA:
Code Commissioner Reports
Effect of Changes
Senate Bill No. 1, adopting the Montana Code Annotated (cited "MCA"), was passed by the 1979 Legislature and became effective January 10, 1979. That bill became Chapter 1, Laws of 1979. The provisions of law relating to recodification are found in Title 1, chapter 11, MCA.
The MCA is a compilation of existing general and permanent law, including the acts of the 64th Legislature of 2017 in regular session. Appropriation acts, resolutions, and laws temporary or special in character, such as repealing, validating, severability, or effective date clauses, are not codified. A list of R.C.M. 1947 sections not codified may be found in the Table of Corresponding Code Sections, R.C.M. 1947 to MCA, contained in Vol. 1 of the annotations, which provides the disposition of all R.C.M. 1947 sections.
The Montana Code Annotated is arranged topically. This feature distinguishes the MCA from the 1947 code, in which the titles were arranged alphabetically. The user of the MCA will find titles that relate closely to one another logically and topically grouped in the code. Continuous rearrangement designed to maintain an orderly and logical arrangement is a permanent feature of the code under authority of section 1-11-204(3)(b), MCA.
The code uses a three-element numbering system. The number to the far left designates the title number, the number between the hyphens designates the chapter number, and the number to the right designates the part and section number. Thus 1-2-305 indicates Title 1, chapter 2, part 3, section 5. Numbering is sequential, but numbers within chapters and parts and between titles have been skipped (reserved) to leave room for future expansion.
During the continuing recodification process, the Legislative Services Division staff screens statutes for obsolescence, conflicts, unconstitutionality, and incorrect grammar, spelling, capitalization, punctuation, numbering, and outlining.
Changes in style that can be made in the text without changing the substance of the law are incorporated by the staff during codification. Errors, inconsistencies, and unconstitutional statutes that were discovered have been corrected by bills introduced in the 1977 through 2017 legislative sessions at the request of the Code Commissioner.
During the initial recodification process, nonsubstantive changes were made in the following areas:
Code Commissioner Reports
All changes, other than punctuation, capitalization, and spelling, made by the staff during the initial recodification are reported in the Official Report of the Montana Code Commissioner contained in the unnumbered volume of the 1978 MCA (red edition). Following each legislative session, all such changes made since the last report are reported and published in annotations, Vol. 1 (see section 1-11-204(3)(c), MCA).
Effect of Changes
No presumption of legislative construction is to be drawn from the MCA code arrangement (section 1-11-103, MCA). In case of inconsistencies resulting from omissions or other errors in codification, the version of the official enrolled bill on file with the Secretary of State will prevail. Codification does not change the law, and the effect of each statute is the same as when originally enacted. Because the Code Commissioner has no legislative power, there can be no change in the law without legislative sanction. The function of codification is to organize law, not to change law.
Legislative action taken since the 1979 recodification has been added to the end of the history.
Abbreviations used in the MCA histories are as follows:
For general questions, please call:
Technical Support Email:
Legislative Services Division
PO Box 201706
Helena MT 59620-1706
Disclaimer: The Internet version of the Montana Code Annotated is provided as a research tool to users of the Code. In case of inconsistencies resulting from omissions or other errors, the printed version will prevail.