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Georgetown Law Library

Maryland Resources

This State Guide lists the major sources of law in Maryland.

Legislative History

"Legislative history" refers to the legislative documents that are produced by the Maryland General Assembly during the process of studying and debating a bill, and ultimately enacting a statute. For a guide to the law-making process, check the Legislative Process section in this guide.

Legislative history includes the following documents:

 

Legislative Materials Non-Digital Formats Digital Access
Bills: See Bills & Bill Information in this guide

 

 

Senate & House of Delegates Proceedings: Audio records  The Legislative Services Library provides access to audio records of the Senate floor proceedings (1992 - 2010) and the House (2000 - 2010). From 2011 forward, Senate & House committee proceedings recordings are found as Floor Actions on the Assembly's website.
Journal of the Proceedings of the Senate of the State of Maryland: These journals do not provide verbatim, but do provide a bill's committee assignment, votes on bill amendments, and the final roll call vote.

Closed Stacks KFM1218 .M3 (not currently updated at Law Library).

Department of Legislative Services Library

Maryland State Law Library

Other libraries

HathiTrust Digital Library
Journal of the Proceedings of the House of Delegates of the State of Maryland: These journals do not provide verbatim records of debate, but do provide a bill's committee assignment, votes on bill amendments, and the final roll call vote.

Closed Stacks KFM1218 .M4 (not currently updated at Law Library)

Department of Legislative Services Library

Maryland State Law Library

Other libraries

HathiTrust Digital Library
Committee Hearing Records: Most of the available testimony consists of written statements and are available only in the committee Bill Files.   Beginning with 2011 session, audio of the Senate committee hearings and video of the House committee hearings are made available by the Maryland General Assembly. The Senate began recording video of hearings in 2014.
Committee Reports: From 1982 through 2001, bills reported out of certain "standing committees" (the committees that regularly consider bills before their second reading on the floor) were required to be accompanied by a committee report that included section-by-section analysis, background information, and an explanation of legislative intent. This requirement never applied to all committees and was abolished for legislative sessions after 2001. Conference committees still issue reports when they report out compromise bills. Standing committee reports: When they exist are included in the General Assembly's committee Bill Files.

Conference committee reports:

Maryland General Assembly (1996 - , as part of each session's proceedings)

Westlaw: Maryland Legislative History (1997 - ). The easiest way to retrieve  materials is to do a terms & connectors search in the title filed for the session (year) & bill number. Example: ti(2004 & "house bill 172").

Fiscal Notes: Every bill reported out of the committee must be accompanied by a fiscal note which analyzes the likely financial impact of enacting the bill. Since 2002, some of these notes also provide section-by-section analysis of the bill, a brief restatement of current law, and background on the reasons for the bill. Fiscal notes are included in the General Assembly's committee Bill Files.

Department of Legislative Services: Selected fiscal notes (1996 - ) are available through "Find a Fiscal &  Policy Note" search box.

Westlaw: Maryland Legislative History (1996 - ). The easist way to retrieve materials is to do a terms & connectors search in the title field for the session (year) and bill number. Example: ti(2004 & "house bill 172").

Bill Files: Collected by the General Assembly's Standing Committee and contain materials that were produced during the bill drafting and enacting process, including Committee Hearing Records, Standing Committee Reports, Fiscal Notes.

Maryland State Law Library (1975 - 2005 as microfilm)

At some Maryland libraries (1975 - 2005 as microfilm, 2003 - 2005 as DVD). On website, see "Committee Bill Files" for library locations.

Department of Legislative Services Library (2000 - , in print)

Scanned Collections, Maryland State Law Library: Legislative Bill Files (2003 - , few misc. pre-2003 bill files)
Session Laws: See Sessions Laws section in this guide.    

 

  • Bills: See Bills & Bill Information in this guide.
  • Senate & House Proceedings: Audio records and written records of floor action.
    • Audio recordings of the floor proceedings:
      • From 2011 forward, Senate & House committee proceedings recordings are found as Floor Actions on the Assembly's website.
      • The Legislative Services Library provides access to audio records of the Senate floor proceedings (1992 - 2010) and the House (2000 - 2010).
    • Journals of the Senate and House of Delegates: Official records of the proceedings of the Senate and the House for the entire session. These journals do not provide verbatim records of debate, but do provide a bill's committee assignment, votes on bill amendments, and the final roll call vote. They are available in the Legislative Services Library and in depository libraries throughout the state. HathiTrust Library has digitized some volumes of both the Senate journals and House journals.
  • Committee hearing records: Most of the available testimony consists of written statements and are available only in the committee Bill Files. Beginning with the 2011 session, audio of the Senate committee hearings and video of the House committee hearings are made available by the Maryland General Assembly. The Senate began recording video of hearings in 2014.
  • Committee reports: From 1982 through 2001, bills reported out of certain "standing committees" (the committees that regularly consider bills before their second reading on the floor) were required to be accompanied by a committee report that included section-by-section analysis, background information, and an explanation of legislative intent. This requirement never applied to all committees and was abolished for legislative sessions after 2001. Conference committees still issue reports when they report out compromise bills.
    • Conference committee reports:
    • Standing committee reports: When they exist are included in the General Assembly's committee Bill Files.
  • Fiscal notes: Every bill reported out of committee must be accompanied by a fiscal note which analyzes the likely financial impact of enacting the bill. Since 2002, some of these notes also provide section-by-section analysis of the bill, a brief restatement of current law, and background on the reasons for the bill.
    • Department of Legislative Services. Selected fiscal notes (1996-) are available through the "Find a Fiscal and Policy Note" search box on the Legislative Services home page.
    • Westlaw Maryland Legislative History (1996 - ). The easiest way to retrieve materials in this database is to do a terms and connectors search in the title field for the session (year) and bill number. Example: ti(2004 & "house bill 172").
    • Bill Files: Fiscal notes are included in the General Assembly's committee Bill Files.
  • Committee bill files
  • Session laws: See Sessions Law section in this guide.

Legislative history materials for Maryland laws enacted before 1975 are hard to find. Of the materials listed above, only the bills and session laws themselves and the House and Senate Journals are available for pre-1975 legislation. Another resource for pre-1975 legislative history research is the Legislative Council Report to the General Assembly (1941-1976), also known as the "Blue Book." The Legislative Council Report included bills recommended by the Legislative Council for the upcoming session, actual minutes of the Council, and committee or special reports. The reports have been digitized by the Maryland State Law Library and are made available through their Scanned Collections (search for "report to the general assembly").

For historical legislation and analysis see Making of Modern Law Historical Legislation: Maryland collection.

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