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Statutory Research Basics: Legislative History

The Library of Congress Federal Legislative History Guide

Federal Legislative History Guides

Library of Congress Legislative History Guide: Provided by the Library of Congress, this guide offers information on "finding federal legislative history documents, including congressional committee reports and hearings, presidential signing statements, and the debates of Congress." It includes references to materials and helpful hints for completing your research.

Legislative History Research: A Guide to Resources for Congressional Staff: Authored by the Congressional Research Service and published July 6, 2016, this guide provides the steps to take when conducting federal legislative history research and provides resources to locate congressional documents. An older version created by Julia Taylor on August 16, 2013 can be found here

U.S. Government Websites

Federal Websites

  • Congress.gov
    • This website is the official digital database for U.S. federal legislative information. It is run by the Library of Congress and is updated daily. You can search for Committee members, hearings, and reports; enacted legislation; pending bills; the Congressional Record; the work of individual members of Congress; nominations before Congress; and treaty documents; as well as browse A Century of Lawmaking, which holds Congressional documents from the first 100 years of the U.S. Congress.
  • GovInfo
    • This website, run by the Government Printing Office (GPO), provides free online access to authentic and digitally signed official publications from the U.S. Congress (and the Executive and Judicial branches of government, too.) You can search or browse for Congressional documents, and download them. 

Subscription Databases

Subscription Databases

Hein Online

Hein Online has a number of databases that are useful to conducting federal legislative history research, including:

Westlaw

  • U.S. Code Congressional & Administrative News: Westlaw publishes "USCCAN," offers reprints of Public Laws together with select Congressional and administrative documents. This publication also has legislative history tables that you can use to cross-reference federal laws and locate subsequent amendments.

Lexis

  • USCS: Lexis publishes monthly pamphlets containing newly enacted public laws in the USCS.  These pamphlets contain the latest federal public laws, court rules, presidential documents, and administrative regulations.

New York State Legislative History

New York State Legislative History

The Legislative History of a New York State Law: A Tutorial and Guide to Library Sources: The New York State Library has authored this 12 step guide to conducting legislative history research in New York. It is a must read before beginning any legislative history research in New York State.

Bill Jackets: For information beyond prior statutes you can look to the bill jackets. NY State has digitized bill jackets for laws passed after 1995 on the New York State Archive Website. Additionally, some laws prior to 1995 have been digitized and are available at the New York State Library’s Digital Collections website. However not all laws have been digitized and some may be unavailable.

If what you are looking for is not on either of the above you have two options.

  • New York Legislative Service: This is a for profit company that has access to bill jackets for New York state laws. For a fee, they will scan and email you copies of the law you are looking for. If you are doing this research for your law firm, this may be something they are willing to pay for.
  • New York State Library  or University of Buffalo Library. These two libraries may also have physical copies they can scan to you. This may take longer than the New York Legislative Service. There may also be a small photocopying fee.

 

New York State Legislature

New York State Legislature

New York State Legislature Public InformationThis website allows you to search through New York bills dating back to 1995. You can access the bill status, text, a summary of its purpose, and the sponsor's memo if available. Current calendars and budget information are also accessible, as well as a searchable list of the New York State Code, Court Rules, Legislature Rules of Procedure, and New York City legislative information.

New York State Assembly Bill Search: Search for Assembly bill information dating back to 1999 by bill number, keyword, or full-text search.

New York State Senate Open Legislation Search: Search for Senate bill information dating back to 2009, including bills, resolutions, calendars, meetings, transcripts, actions, and committees.

New York State Legislative AnnualPublished annually by New York Legislative Service, Inc. Each annual volume contains sponsor's memoranda, departmental memos, Governor's Veto and Approval messages, and memoranda for all bills signed into law for that year. This multi-volume set is available in our library at KFN5005.A2 N43, dating back to 1946.

New York State Senate Proceedings: Current recordings of the New York State Senate Proceedings such as senate sessions, committee meetings, and public hearings are available from 2020 and 2021. Archived recordings from 2011-2014 are available here

Hein Online

Historical Materials

Hein Online New York State Legal Research Library: Looking for insight into New York Statutes? This database provides digital access to New York statutory volumes dating back to 1752 and session laws dating back to the establishment of the New York Colony (1691), as well as a host of other New York legal research resources.

The Colonial Laws of New York From The Year 1664 to the RevolutionThis multi-volume set includes the charters to the Duke of York, the commissions and instructions to colonial governors, the Duke's laws, the laws of the Dongan and Leisler assemblies, the charters of Albany and New York, and the acts of the colonial legislatures from 1691 to 1775.