Legislative History

Bridge the Gap Heather Casey April 2, 2012

What is a legislative history?

The documents that are produced in the process of enacting legislation.
• These documents are used to gain insight on the background and events leading to a statute’s enactment
• Thus giving insight to the intent behind the statute

Why do we care?
Legislative histories help when determining the intent of the Congress at the time a statute was proposed or enacted.  So?

Courts may look to this intent when a statute is ambiguous on its face.

A Not-At-All-Confusing Diagram of the Legislative Process

A Simpler Diagram

This chart was found on the Notre Dame Law Library website at: http://law.nd.edu/library-and-technology/students/legal-research-guides/federal-legislative-history-research

Legislative Paper Trail


different versions suggest changes as result of deliberations or compromise

  

Comm. hearings –interested parties make statements Comm. prints – background research; staff “term paper” Comm. reports – analysis of bill and recommendation

Legislative Paper Trail (cont.)
 

 

Floor debates – not generally informative but can reflect views of key players Conference reports – the compromises worked out between the different chambers – highly significant Enrolled act – what is sent to the executive Signing statement or veto statement – why the executive acted the way she did

Federal Legislative Materials--Bills

Bills – numbered by Congress and by chamber, e.g., H.R. 3055, 94th Cong. (1976)

Bills (cont.)
 

Bills go to committees in both houses, at different times Bills can go to multiple committees in same house Committees can receive and amend multiple bills on same topic “Engrossed bill” – official copy of a bill that has passed one chamber

Committee “Papers”
Committee prints – by committee  Committee hearings – can search by witness or by topic  Committee reports – most influential, section-by-section analysis

• “Serial set”—collection of reports and other documents • Conference report – compiled by conference comm. (House and Senate)

Committee Print

Committee Hearing

Committee Report

Congressional Record
Debates on the House & Senate floors  Sometimes includes material not actually said on the floor  “Daily Digest” records business of Congress  Indexed by bill number, speaker, topic  Permanent v. Daily editions – page numbers do not match  Use GPO/FDSys to access PDFs  Hein Online as well

Presidential documents
Enrolled act – the final version sent to President  Presidential statements – Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents; Papers of the President

Signing Statement

Executive Orders & Proclamations
 

Executive orders

Directions to agencies

Policy announcements  Frequently ceremonial  Sometimes substantive (e.g., state of emergency or implementation of agreements)

Finding Executive Orders & Proclamations

Numbered sequentially in separate series
 

Series does not start over with each President E.g., Proclamation No. 6763, Exec. Order No. 11,609 Codified in Title 3 of C.F.R. Title 3 is the only volume of C.F.R. that is kept permanently

Look for them in Federal Register
 

Finding Executive Orders & Proclamations (cont.)

Compilation of Presidential Documents
 

Formerly compiled into Public Papers of the President Since 1989, you are referred back to Federal Register Formerly Weekly, now Daily http://www.gpoaccess.gov/wcomp/index.html

Lexis  Westlaw

Presidential Proclamation

Excerpt from Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States (found on FDSys)

Finding Executive Orders & Proclamations (cont.)

Sometimes reprinted in:
U.S.C.C.A.N. (by year)  U.S. Code, U.S.C.A., U.S.C.S. (by related statutory provision)  Statutes at Large (proclamations, but not executive orders, by year)

CIS in Paper/Microform

Congressional Information Service
1970 CIS Indexes/Legislative Histories (in Ref.)

• abstracts of hearings and reports; useful indexes for finding witnesses, when they testified, etc. • indexes give microfiche number that you use to read the original text (generally this number begins with CIS)

CIS Index in print •Lists the complete legislative history for a given act •Each type of document is listed in its own category •Each document is given its own CIS number to identify it within the microfiche

CIS Listings for Hearings •Hearings are grouped by committee so there will be several separate sessions under one main number •Hearings can further be broken down by the speaker •CIS will list the witnesses that spoke at each hearing, in the order they spoke and with their title or association, if they have one

CIS Online

ProQuest Congressional (formerly Lexis Congressional)
same thing as CIS in paper, but better!  can be searched by numerous indexes  provides abstracts in most cases, fulltext in some  includes some materials back to 1789

http://law.richmond.edu/library/databases.ht ml (Look under Federal Resources)

Compiled legislative histories
Documents collected, then republished or summarized  Often compiled by law firms or experts  Indexed:

Johnson – Sources of Compiled Legislative Histories  Reams – Federal Legislative Histories  Hein Online – U.S. Federal Legislative History Library

www.gpo.gov/fdsys  HTML & PDF  Great for retrieval  Not-so-good for full-text searching  Bills, hearings, prints, reports, Congressional Record, Presidential docs  Mostly for current materials

Other Online Sources
Lexis (under “Federal Legal”)  Westlaw (under “U.S. Federal”)  Legislative Sourcebook (http://www.llsdc.org/sourcebook/)  Thomas (thomas.loc.gov)

bills  Congressional Record  some committee reports & other info.

State Legislative Histories
Varies wildly from state to state  Search for research guides specific to legislative history for your state:

Example: Type “Florida Legislative History Research Guide” ***You may need to broaden your search to looking for state legal research guides

Links to Sites for State Leg. Hist. Information

Indiana U. Maurer School of Law:

http://www.law.indiana.edu/lawlibrary/ research/guides/statelegislative/index.s html

Zimmerman’s Research Guide on Legislative History

http://law.lexisnexis.com/infopro/zimm ermans/disp.aspx?z=1962

In Print…

State Legislative Sourcebook

Virginia Legislative History
Much less to work with  Bills (look for changes in language)  House & Senate documents (may be tied to particular legislation)  Bill files (generally closed except by patron’s permission)  http://leg1.state.va.us

Legislative Studies

Virginia Legislative History Continued…
Richmond Sunlight – independent website that tracks legislation like the LIS but also allows for public comment – www.richmondsunlight.com  Senate and House Journals – available in print at our library, Library of Virginia

And finally….
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=pl ayer_embedded&v=fZi4JxbTwPo