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Legislative History

What is a Legislative History

Legislative History refers to the progress of a bill through the legislative process,and to the documents that are created during that process. In other words it is the compiling of all the legislative documents that led up to the enactment of a law.

Uses for Legislative Histories
Most often used by federal agencies, attorneys, or the courts to interpret the purpose or intent of a law.  

Components of a legislative history
These documents, arranged by weight, are most widely accepted by Courts of Law as evidence of legislative intent. For explanations of each see Gallagher Law Library - University of Washington.

  • Committee reports
  • Sponsor statement and floor debates
  • Committee hearings
  • Bill text, original and amendments
  • Committee prints

This guide will help you locate the documents needed to compile a legislative history, or find one that has already been compiled. Resources for finding this information include library legal databases, websites, and books. It is recommended that you read through all the information before beginning your legislative history, as some methods may work better than others, depending on the legislation being researched.

How a Bill Becomes a Law

LexisNexis

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