OCPLL Legislative History

Finding sources of legislative history in California is difficult. Legislative history may not have been created or widely disseminated. This outline attempts to give you some guidelines for your search. A statute shall go into effect on January 1 next following a 90-day period from the date of enactment of the statute and a statute enacted at a special session shall go into effect on the 91st day after adjournment of the special session at which the bill was passed. Article IV, §8(c) California Constitution.


  1. Find the CODE SECTION you want to research in West’s or Deering’s California Codes. Refer to the notes in parentheses at the end of section to find the year of enactment and the chaptered law number.

  Year__________       Chaptered Law

  See annotations to the code section for additional references.

  1. Examine the text of the chaptered law in STATUTES AND AMENDMENTS TO THE CODES OF CALIFORNIA (KFC30.A2).
  1. Read the SUMMARY DIGEST (KFC38.C3) and use it to find the BILL NUMBER and the AUTHOR. The Summary Digest indicates the bill number and notes the appropriate chamber of the legislature, e.g. AB 2000). Beginning with 1966, the Summary Digest can be found in the last volume of Statutes and Amendments to the Codes of California for each year. Before 1966, use the Table of Contents in first volume to find the Table of Laws Enacted. Use this table to find the bill number and author.

  Bill Number___________    Author

  1. Examine the BILL (KFC6.C3 Microfiche). Access by year and bill number. LIBRARY HAS 1966-PRESENT. Current session paper copy only.
  1. Examine the ASSEMBLY FILE ANALYSIS (KFC14.A85 Microfiche), a one or two page analysis of the bill. Access by year and bill number. LIBRARY HAS 1975-PRESENT. Some bill analyses are now available from California legislative committees at the California legislative information page: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/ .
  1. Consult the SEMIFINAL/FINAL HISTORY (KFC14) of the appropriate chamber for that year (e.g., use 1978 Senate Final History for SB 100 from 1978) for a chronological listing of committee action taken on the bill by the legislature. LIBRARY HAS 1973-PRESENT. For recent bills, use the WEEKLY HISTORY. Note the COMMITTEES that considered the bill.

  Assembly Committees__________________________________________________

  Senate Committees____________________________________________________

  1. Look for HEARINGS and REPORTS from these committees. To find text of hearings and reports:


  NAME OF COMMITTEE; or, search by the TITLE of the report. –see the collections of      other libraries, e.g. Los Angeles County Law Library (213) 629-3531.

  1. Consult the ASSEMBLY and SENATE JOURNALS (KFC 5 and KFC 5 Microfiche). Procedural actions taken by each chamber are indexed. No record of floor debates exists for the California legislature (i.e., no equivalent of the Congressional Record). “Letters of intent” regarding some bills are found in Journals. See the index. Appendices may contain reports or hearings.
  1. WESTLAW (available on the Library’s Network) and LEXIS cover most recent legislative sessions. They have both the full text of California bills and bill tracking databases from 1991- .


  1. If the bill was major legislation recommended by the CALIFORNIA LAW REVISION COMMISSION, see its REPORTS 1957-present (KFC27.A3).
  2. See various annual reviews of legislation. If the bill passed in 1955, 1965, or 1967-69, consult the CEB REVIEW OF SELECTED CODE LEGISLATION (KFC27.R48). If the bill passed in 1970 or later, consult the PACIFIC LAW JOURNAL / McGEORGE LAW REVIEW, Annual Review of Legislation (K16.A35–fifth floor). Each January issue reviews the past year’s legislation.
  3. Shepardize the code section for further references.


  1. Contact the CALIFORNIA STATE ARCHIVES regarding their bill files (916) 653-7715. Files are arranged by year, then by chaptered law or bill number. Archives staff may take several days to respond to telephone requests to determine the contents of a file. Photocopies cost $.25 per page. Archives staff may provide valuable assistance not easily available elsewhere.
  1. Contact the offices of the bill’s AUTHOR, various COMMITTEES, and the GOVERNOR’S OFFICE. See the STATE OF CALIFORNIA TELEPHONE DIRECTORY (REF JK8701.C3S7).
  1. Contact LEGISLATIVE RESEARCH FIRMS for fee-based research services: California Legislative Intent Service http://www.legintent.com/ (800) 666-1917; Legislative History Clearinghouse http://www.legislativeintent.com// (888) 676-1947; Legislative Research Inc. http://lrihistory.com/ (800) 530-7613. These research firms may be expensive to use; contact them for current rates.


Smith, Steven E. Legislative Intent: In Search of the Holy Grail, 53 Cal. St. B. J. 294 (1978).

White, Bertha R. Sources of Legislative Intent in California, 3 Pac. L. J. 63 (1972).


http://www.leginfo.ca.gov / The official site for California legislative information. All statutes enacted on or after January 1, 1993 –

http://clerk.assembly.ca.gov/archive-list . California Clerk Archive. Sessions of the California Legislature from 1849 – 2000 Journals, Statutes, and Histories.

http://www.sos.ca.gov/archives/minerva/  State Archives Catalog

http://www.oac.cdlib.org/search?style=oac4&ff=0&institution=California+State+Archives&query=legislative+history State Archives: For pre-1993 bill files

http://heinonline.org/HOL/Index?collection=sstatutes&set_as_cursor=clear (Library use only).Hein Online. Cal. Laws 1850-1948.