Searching Legislative History

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.

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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 Look for it in the superseded A.R.S.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? 

  1. Find the Session Laws. Session Laws are the enacted version of the legislation. Jot down the bill number, found after the chapter number.
  2. 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!

  1. 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?

  1. 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.
  2. Next, refer to before-1997 steps above.

 

Is it 1997 or more current?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. To search topics, try “search” on the left-hand side and use keywords.
  5. 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?

microfilm2Journals 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.

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Arizona Legislature Lingo and Abbreviations

3rd Read? Do pass? COW?

What’s really going on at the Legislature?

25th Territorial Legislature Council

The Arizona Legislature has its own lingo and abbreviations. Here is a flow chart we find helpful to track legislation and understand what’s going on during the legislative session and with the introduced bills.

Remember, we have a treasure trove of materials on legislation – including Session Laws from before Statehood, Journals of legislative action for both the House and Senate, introduced bills, and many years of bill files. Contact us for research help!

Arizona State Legislature in session

Legislative process and abbreviations

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Makes sense, right!? This flow chart is a little more advanced than the Schoolhouse Rock “I’m Just a Bill” clip we learned legislative process from as kids!

Here are a few more pictures of our State legislators and staff in action through the years, completing the process outlined above!

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Secretaries or attaches for the Arizona State Legislature
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Arizona State Legislature in session
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Members of the 1912, First State Legislature
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Legislature in session in the Arizona State Capitol

 

50th Anniversary of Miranda v. Arizona

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Today is the 50th Anniversary of the United States Supreme Court ruling on Miranda v. Arizona. Check out some of the Miranda Related documents in the Arizona Memory Project: http://goo.gl/IjOLSL

For more info and activities, check out the U.S. Courts website: http://www.uscourts.gov/educational-resources/educational-activities/facts-and-case-summary-miranda-v-arizona

Miranda: More than Words

Law Day Flyer

In 1966, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the conviction of Ernesto Miranda on kidnapping and rape charges because he was not informed of his rights during his arrest, making his written and signed confession null and void. Learn about this iconic case, Miranda v. Arizona, during Law Day 2016 – “Miranda: More than Words,” May 2, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., in the Arizona Capitol Museum, Historic Supreme Courtroom, 1700 W. Washington St., Phoenix. Admission is free.

Items from the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records and the Phoenix Police Museum will be on display in the courtroom where arguments were heard before the Arizona Supreme Court. The exhibit contains displays from the investigation and local trials, including a copy of Miranda’s signed confession.

The verdict in the Miranda v. Arizona case had a profound effect on law enforcement in the arrest and questioning of defendants; ultimately creating the Miranda Warning recited to suspects by law enforcement officials:
You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?

A day-long speaker series in the State Library of Arizona Marguerite B. Cooley Reading Room, one floor above the Historic Supreme Courtroom will include:

11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

The Miranda Case
Arizona Court of Appeals Judge Maurice Portley

1 p.m. – 2 p.m.

How the Fifth Amendment Protects All of Us
Robert McWhirter, JD

2:30 p.m. – 4 p.m.

The Miranda Case
Ret. Capt. Carroll Cooley, Phoenix Police Department arresting officer in the Miranda case

Date: Monday, May 2, 2016

Time: 11:00 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Upcoming Program

January 13, 2016 – Doing Business with Tribes: What You Need to Know

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Presented by Heidi McNeil Staudenmaier.

Date: Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Time: 12:00 noon – 1:00 p.m.

Location: State Library of Arizona, Con Cronin Commons (formerly 3rd Floor Training Area) 1700 W. Washington St. (State Capitol), Phoenix, AZ 85007

About Heidi McNeil Staudenmaier:

Heidi McNeil Staudenmaier is nationally recognized in the areas of Indian Law, Gaming Law and Business Litigation. She represents tribes, tribal entities and businesses who engage in business transactions with tribes and tribal entities.

To register:

http://www.azlibrary.gov/events/1406

Join us for the 800th Anniversary of the Magna Carta!

June 15, 2015 – Rights, Runnymede, and Robin Hood: Magna Carta to the Bill of Rights

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Date: Monday, June 15, 2015

Time: Noon – 1:00pm

Location: State Library of Arizona, Con Cronin Commons (formerly 3rd Floor Training Area) 1700 W. Washington St. (State Capitol), Phoenix, AZ 85007

About speaker Robert McWhirter:

Robert J. McWhirter is a nationally and internationally known speaker and author on trial advocacy, immigration law, and the history of the bill of rights. He is a Certified Specialist in Criminal Law with the State Bar of Arizona and first chair qualified to defend capital cases by the Arizona Supreme Court. He is the author of Bills, Quills and Stills: An Annotated, Illustrated, and Illuminated History of the Bill of Rights.

To Register: http://www.azlibrary.gov/events/1106