Hints for Legislative History Research Plus a New Research Guide

Sue Altmeyer, Electronic Services Librarian, sue.altmeyer@law.csuohio.edu | February 20, 2008 – 11:07

From yesterday’s Legislative History research seminar, here are a few tips:

1. Be sure to check out the library’s newly revised Legislative History Research Guide, which contains lots of how-tos on both federal and state legislative history research.

2. Some legislative history documents have more persuasive authority than others. See Chart – Most Persuasive Legislative History Documents, in Order. A recent article advocates that conference reports and committee reports are the only reliable legislative history documents. See Law Librarian Blog, Professional Reading: Should Some Forms of Legislative History be Excluded During Judicial Review?

3. Try to find a compiled legislative history, which are available for major legislation.

4. You will use different sources to locate legislative history for older (generally, pre-1969) acts than newer acts. The research guide sets out the Steps for both old and new acts.

5. Pending legislation can be tracked automatically by GovTrack.us (free) or by setting up a saved search of a bill tracking database on Lexis or Westlaw.