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Georgetown Law Library

California Resources

Legislative History

Compiling a California Legislative History is a complex process. A legislative history consists of the documents produced during the bill proposal, passage and enactment stages. Multiple resources must be located and consulted which may prove difficult in that many legislative documents are not consistently published. Additionally, legislative information prior to the 1970's was not well preserved so it may prove especially difficult to locate earlier legislative resources.

Document Description
Code By reviewing the code the researcher can also locate the Bill number and the Chapter number which are needed to track textual changes. The parenthetical history section is usually located at the top of each chapter, some chapter sections also contain "Historical Derivations" with historical content pertinent to that section of the chapter. The researcher should look at the beginning of the chapter as well as specific sections to locate historical content.
Assembly File Analyses Published by a now closed Assembly Office of Research, includes the bill analysis, digest, amendments and the fiscal effect of the bill. The assembly files were produced in microform from around 1975 to 2002.
Committee Reports Though infrequently published, committee reports from 1946 through 1970 may be found in the Senate Journal. The Assembly Journal may contain committee reports dated from 1956 through 1970. Published reports are also listed in the California State Publications, a monthly listing of official publications received by the California State Library from California governmental agencies.
Committee Analyses Legislative committee analysis of bills. These documents are generally not published in print, but may be found included with the bill information from a Bill Search with the California Legislative Information (from 1999 - ).
Senate Journal & Assembly Journal The office record of each house's legislative activity published each day that the legislature is in session. LLMC (legislative journals coverage 1949 - 1986)Westlaw (Assembly journal coverage from 1995-96 session and Senate journal coverage from 2001-02 session)State Assembly Office of the Chief Clerk (journal coverage from 1849) (for more holdings, see WorldCat record for the Journal of the Assembly). California State Senate (coverage 1850 - 1963, 2003-04, 2005 - ) (for more holdings, see WorldCat record for the Journal of the Senate)
Letters of Legislative Intent Letters written by legislators in support of legislation. Some of the letters may be printed and indexed in the Assembly and Senate Journals (above). See Using Letters to the Daily Journals for Determining Legislative Intent in Nat'l L. Rev. (Feb. 25, 2019) & collected Assembly letters and Senate letters.
Daily File Published each day that the legislature is in session. The Senate daily file and Assembly daily file are records of the legislative agenda. Contains the Officers of the respective houses, the Order of Business, the tentative schedule for the entire legislative session, the bills that are scheduled to be heard on the floor and during committee hearings.
History The Senate history and Assembly history are published daily when the Legislature is in session, and then weekly in a cumulative edition. The History is a chronological record of action taken on each bill to date. There is also a semi-final issue that contains information on the first year of the legislative session and a Final issue that contains information on the entire session.
Summary Digest A summary of each bill enacted in a two-year session, as prepared and compiled by the Legislative Counsel. The measures are listed by chapter number, reflecting the order in which they were signed into law.
Legislative Index and Table of Sections Affected (TSA) The Legislative Counsel of California compiles this subject-matter index of the status of pending legislation. The TSA lists the added, amended or repealed code sections.

Database & Collections

Research Guides & Articles

A number of California law libraries have published research guides that provide background information on the California legislative process, list documents that may be produced in the course of the legislative process, specify the sources for legislative documents, and give recommendations in compiling a legislative history. There are also published articles that provide similar information.