One of the most common requests we get at the State of Arizona Research Library is how to research the legislative history of a particular law. How did it come into existence? Who originally came up with the idea for the law? How long did it take to pass? When did it pass? And has it changed since that time?
Our amazing law librarian has come up with this helpful “cheat sheet” of information on how to perform a legislative history. Use it, print it, share it all you like. If you still find yourself stuck or can’t find it online, contact us! We have a lot more material in our physical collection that may be helpful as well.
How To Start
Find the statute in the print Arizona Revised Statute (A.R.S.) annotated or an annotated online source. Look for “added by” for the 1st time it was enacted. If it says “amended by,” there’s an earlier enactment. Look for it in the superseded A.R.S.
Determine the Year
Is it Before 1997?
- Find the Session Laws. Session Laws are the enacted version of the legislation. Jot down the bill number, found after the chapter number.
- Check the bill file. The State of Arizona Research Library has these bill files on microfilm:
- Senate bills between 1969 and 1990.
- House bills between 1971 and 1994.
- After those dates but before 1997, call the Clerk of the House of Representatives at 602-926-3032 or the Senate Resource Center at 602-926-3559.
Before the late 1960’s, the bill file probably doesn’t exist, as most were destroyed in a flood. Your issue may be in the History of the Arizona State Legislature 1912-1967 which included an analysis of major issues, debate, & news coverage by session. It is now on microfiche in the Reading Room but soon it will be digitized! Thank you, Library Services and Technology Act!
- Use the bill number to check Journals from the Arizona House and Senate. Start by finding the bill number in the index at the end of the volume. Then check each cited page for legislative process and committees that heard the bill. Journals may have text of amendments, floor speeches, & conference committee info. There will be different information in the Journal of each chamber, so be sure to check both!
Is it 1989 – 1997?
- Go to the Arizona Legislature website. Enter the bill number into the search box at top right. You won’t find everything you need, but it’s a convenient source to get started.
- Next, refer to before-1997 steps above.
Is it 1997 or more current?
- Find the Session Law from the Arizona Legislature website. Set the Year and Session using the yellow drop-down menu at the top. Scroll down to Chapter number. Jot down the bill number.
- Use the bill tracker from the Arizona Legislature website. Set the correct Year and Session. Enter the 4-digit bill number in search box at the top right. The titles in the blue bar close to the top are links to more information.
- For committee minutes, jot down committees & dates. Go to Agendas on the left-hand side of the page. Choose Senate or House & select the Committee. Click on the meeting date. Click the blue Committee Minutes link.
- To search topics, try “search” on the left-hand side and use keywords.
- Check for interim, special, or study committee reports. Look for some more Legislative Study Committee Reports in our State Documents Collection on the Arizona Memory Project (link does not reflect a complete search of Legislative Committees).
Still can’t find what you’re looking for?
Journals may have info on interim, special, & study committees. Check current year and a year or two before. Search our State Documents Collection for Committee reports.
The State of Arizona Archives has some minutes filed by House committees between 1965 and 2016. Jot down the name of committees & meeting dates, then call them at 602-926-3720 or fill out a research request form.
We have numerous newspapers on microfilm, including the Capitol Times & its predecessors. Important and controversial issues of the day often appeared in the news.
To view print material, you can visit us in the Reading Room of the Polly Rosenbaum History and Archives Building located at 1901 W. Madison in Phoenix. We are open Monday through Friday, except on state holidays.