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Legislative History - Federal and State

Introduction to State Legislative History Research

The process for conducting state legislative history research is much the same as it is for conducting federal legislative history research with the caveat that state materials may not be as available depending on what law-making procedural records the legislature keeps and whether state resources have been dedicated to preserving and making them available.  

To begin research into state statutes and legislative history, it is best to consult a research guide to learn something about legislative procedures in the state and what resources are available.  

State law libraries, legislative research libraries, or university law libraries often provide the best access to legislative materials and have knowledgeable librarians to assist with research questions.  In addition, researchers can usually request scans or copies of print materials that have yet to be made available in digital format. 

Guides to State Legislative Resources at Biddle Law Library

Below are books, bibliographies, and guides available through Biddle's catalog that provide state law research guidance.  Compiled or subject-specific state legislative histories can be found by searching the Biddle Law Library catalog using the subject matter of the legislation (e.g., "water law" and the name of the state).  In addition, bar journals, available through the Lexis, Westlaw, or Bloomberg, often contain articles about state legislation.

Links to Online Research Guides & Legislative Information Sites of the 50 States

Alabama

Blakely Beals et al., State Documents Bibliography, Alabama (2012).

Alabama Legislature House and Senate Journals from 1818-1836 & 1998-present.

Alabama Department of Archives & History Journals from 1818-1901.

Alaska

Merrilee S. Harrell, A Researcher's Guide to Legislative History in Alaska, 30 Legal Ref. Services Q. 7 (2011).

Alaska Legislature's Guide to Legislative History Materials

Arizona

ASU's Arizona Law Research Guide  

AZ State Library Legislative History Guide

Arkansas

Kathryn C. Fitzhugh and Melissa M. Serfass, Using Legislative History in Arkansas to Determine Legislative Intent: An Examination of Cases and Review of the Sources, 32 U. Ark. Little Rock L. Rev. 285 (2010). 

Arkansas Bureau of Legislative Research

California 

Amy Atchison & Jennifer Lentz, California Legislative History, 30 Legal Ref. Services Q. 127 (2011).

California State Library Guide

California State Assembly Journals Archive

Sacramento County Public Law Library Guide

Colorado

Alvin Dong, Uncovering Colorado Legislative Law-Making and Legislative Intent, Colo. B. J. 39 (Fall, 1999). 

University of Co. Legislative History Research Guide

Connecticut

CT State Library offers compiled legislative histories back to 1953 and hearings back to 1899.  

Janis Fusaris, Connecticut Legislative History, 30 Legal Ref. Services Q. 17 (2011).

Delaware

Widener University's Delaware Legislative History Research Guide

Florida

Mark Kaplan, et al., eds., Guide to Florida Legal Research, 3rd ed. (1992).

Kathleen Brown, The Legislative Process in the State of Florida, 30 Leg. Ref. Services Q. 25 (2011).

Florida State Law Library Legislative History website.

Georgia

University of Georgia School of Law's Researching the Legislative History of an Enacted Georgia Statute Research Guide.

Nancy P. Johnson, Nancy J. Adams & Elizabeth G. Adelman, Researching Georgia Law22 Ga. St. U. L. Rev. 381 (2005).

Hawai'i

University of Hawai'i Law Library Research Guides:  Hawai`i Laws 1822-1959: 1822-1898 Kingdom + and 

Hawai'i Laws: Legislative History.

Richard F. Kahle, Jr.  How to Research Constitutional, Legislative, and Statutory History in HawaiĘ»i, 79 (3d ed. 2001).

Idaho

Kristin Ford, Idaho Legislative Histories Revealed, 30 Legal Ref. Services Q. 33 (2011).

Kristin M. Ford, Initiative and Referendum Process in Idaho: A Research Guide, 26 Legal Ref. Services Q. 79 (2007).

Illinois

Laurel Wendt. Illinois Legal Research Guide, 2d. ed. (2006).

Illinois State Courts:  How to Research an Illinois Legislative History.  

University of Illinois Law Library Legislative History Research Guide.

Indiana

Indiana University Law Library Legislative History Research Guide.

Indiana State Library:  Locating Indiana Government Documents.

Iowa

Iowa Legal Research Guide.

Drake University Law Library Iowa Legislative History Research Guide.

Kansas

Washburn University's Legislative History Research Guide.

H. Edward Flentje & Joseph A Aistrup, Kansas Politics and Government : The Clash of Political Cultures (2010).  

Kentucky

William A Hilyerd et al., Kentucky Legal Research (2017).

University of Kentucky Law Library's Kentucky Legislative History Research Guide.

Louisiana

Brian Huddleston, Louisiana Legislative History Resources, 30 Legal Ref. Services Q. 42 (2011).

Louisiana State University Law Library's Legislative History Materials Research Guide.

Louisiana law research guide collection at Louisiana Law Library.

Maine

Maine State Legislature's Compiling a Maine Legislative History website.

Maryland

Maryland State's Thurgood Marshall Law Library, Ghosthunting:  Searching for Maryland Legislative History.  

Massachusetts

State Library of Massachusetts's YouTube video presentation: A Guide to Tracing Massachusetts Legislative History.

State Library of Massachusett's document Massachusetts Legislative History with links to sources.

Sean J. Kealy, Guide to Gathering and Using Legislative History in Massachusetts, 97 Mass. L. Rev. 46 (2016).

Michigan

Kincaid C. Brown, Legislative Intent and Legislative History in Michigan, 30 Legal Ref. Services Q. 51 (2011).

University of Michigan Law Library's Michigan Legislative History.

Minnesota

George R. Jackson, Minnesota Legislative History, 30 Legal Ref. Services Q. 62 (2011).

Minnesota Legislative Reference Library.

Mississippi

Mississippi College School of Law Legislative History Project's online archive (back to 2012) online video of Mississippi legislative sessions.

University of Mississippi's Mississippi State Government:  Legislature research guide.  

Missouri

Washington University's Locating Missouri Legislative History Materials research guide.  

Montana

State Law Library of Montana's Montana Legislative History Research Guide and A Guide to Montana Legal Research.  

Nebraska

Creighton University's Nebraska Legislative History research guide.

Nevada

University of Nevada's Legislative History research guide.  

New Hampshire

New Hampshire Law Library's Compiling a New Hampshire Legislative History research guide.

New Jersey

Rutgers Law Library's New Jersey Legislative History research guide.  

Barbara H Garavaglia, Using Legislative Histories to Determine Legislative Intent in New Jersey, 30 Legal Ref. Services Quarterly , 71–84 (2011).

Karin Johnsrud et al., New Jersey State Documents : A Bibliography of Legal Resources (2011).

New Mexico

University of New Mexico's New Mexico Legislative History Quick Guide.

New York

Elizabeth Adelman et al., New York Legal Research (2020).

Pace University's New York State Legislative History research guide.  Contains links to state websites and a how-to guide.

New York State Library's Legislative Intent research guide, with tutorial.

North Carolina

Thomas P. Davis, Legislative History in North Carolina, 30 Legal Ref. Services Q. 85 (2011).

University of North Carolina's North Carolina Legislative History research guide.  

North Dakota

Rhonda R. Schwartz, Resorting to Extrinsic Aids: North Dakota Legislative History Research, 30 Legal Ref. Services Q. 95 (2011).

University of North Dakota's North Dakota Legislative History: The Basics research guide.

Ohio

Maureen Bonace McMahon, Legislative History in Ohio: Myths and Realities, 46 Clev. St. L. Rev. 49 (1998).

Franklin County Law Library's Ohio Primary Law Legal Research Guide: Legislative History research guide. 

Oklahoma

Darla Jackson, Legislative History: A Guide for the State of Oklahoma, 30 Legal Ref. Services Q. 119 (2011).

University of Oklahoma's Oklahoma Legislative History research guide.  

Oregon

Oregon State Archives Legislative Research site.

Lewis and Clark Law School's Oregon Legal Research:  Legislative research guide.

Pennsylvania

Joel Fishman, Pennsylvania State Documents : A Bibliography of Legal and Law-Related Material (2017).

Barbara J Busharis et al., Pennsylvania Legal Research  (2017). 

Erwin C Surrency & Carroll C Moreland, Research in Pennsylvania Law (1965). 

Jenkins Law Library's Pennsylvania Legislative History research guide.

Rhode Island

Roger Williams University School of Law's Rhode Island Legislative Research guide.  

South Carolina

South Carolina State Library's State Documents Depository.  

South Carolina Legislature website.

South Dakota

C Spurlin, The Basics of Legislative History in South Dakota, 56 South Dakota Law Review, 114–121 (2011).

Delores A JorgensenSouth Dakota Legal Research Guide (1999). 

University of South Dakota Statutes & Legislative History research guide.  

Tennessee

Reba A Best, Tennessee State Documents : A Bibliography of State Publications and Related Materials (2009).

University of Tennessee's State Law, Legislation and Regulations: Bill Text & History research guide.

Tennessee Secretary of State Legislative History and Recording website.  Contains links to state library and archives and introductory information.

Texas

Lynn Murray, Texas Legal Materials : A Selected Bibliography (2014).

University of Texas's Texas Legislative History research guide.

Utah

Mari Cheney, Utah Legal Resources Bibliography (2009).

Utah State Legislature Legislative History site

Vermont

Cynthia Lewis et al., State Documents Bibliography : Vermont : An Updated Guide to the Vermont Legal System (2010).

University of Vermont's Vermont Law: Vermont Legislative History research guide.

Virginia

Margaret Krause et al., State Documents Bibliography, Virginia (2010), 

University of Virginia's Virginia Government: Legislative Resources research guide.

Washington

Penny A. et al. Hazelton. Washington Legal Researcher's Deskbook 3d, Ch. 6, Pt. III:  The Process of Researching Legislative History in Washington (2002).

University of Washington Law Library's Washington Legislative History research guide.  

Washington State Archives Legislative History research guide.

West Virginia

Stacy Etheredge, State Documents Bibliography, West Virginia (2016).

West Virginia University Law Library's Guide to West Virginia Law Legislative History 

West Virginia Legislature 

Wisconsin

Barbara Fritschel, State Documents Bibliography, Wisconsin (2009).

Richard A Danner, Legal Research in Wisconsin (1980).

Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau's Researching Legislative History in Wisconsin.

University of Wisconsin's Wisconsin Legislative History research guide.

Wyoming

Debora A Person, Wyoming State Documents : A Bibliography of State Legal Publications and Related Materials (2018).

Books from the Catalog -- State Legislatures Background Reading