Free Federal Legislative History Sources on the Web Sue Altmeyer Electronic Services Librarian Cleveland Marshall College of Law January 10, 2008.
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Free Federal Legislative History Sources on the Web Sue Altmeyer Electronic Services Librarian Cleveland Marshall College of Law January 10, 2008
URL for this Powerpoint http://www.law.csuohio.edu/lawlibrary/document s/legislativehistory.ppt
What Is Legislative History? Documents Created During Legislative Process Different versions of bill Committee reports & hearings Legislative debates
Why Is Legislative History Important? Explains meaning of a statute – the “legislative intent”
Federal Legislative History – What Is Available On Web? University of Michigan’s Legislative History Process chartUniversity of Michigan’s Legislative History Process chart – Steps in legislative process Documents Links to free & fee document sources
Legislative Process / Publication Legislative Process Publication 1. Bill introduced & referred to committee Bill 2. Committee may hold hearingHearing Print 3. Committee may recommend passage House/Senate Report 4. House/Senate debate & voteCongressional Record House/Senate Journal 5. If differences in version passed by House & Senate, bill(s) sent to conference committee Conference Report
Legislative Process / Publication cont’d Legislative Process Publication 6. House/Senate debate & vote Congressional Record House/Senate Journal 7. Bill becomes lawSlip Law (Public Laws) > US Statutes at Large > US Code 8. Veto messageCongressional Record Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents
How Laws Are Published HOUSE BILL OR SENATE BILL - S. 659, 92 nd Congress 2 nd Session (1972). (House bills cited as H.R. xx) PUBLIC LAW - Slip law - P.L. 92-318, The Education Amendments of 1972, Title IX, § 901P.L. 92-318, STATUTES AT LARGE - LexisNexis® 86 Stat. 235, Title IX, § 901LexisNexis® 86 Stat. 235 U.S. CODE – LexisNexis® 20 USCS 1681LexisNexis® 20 USCS 1681
Most Important Legislative History Materials 1.Conference Committee Reports 2.Committee Reports 3.Bills 4.Sponsor Remarks 5.Presidential Statements 6.Committee Hearings & Committee Prints
Federal Legislative History On Web Thomas.gov Public Laws (1973-); Bills (1989-); House, Senate & Conference Reports (1995-); Congressional Record (1989-) GPO Access – Legislative Public Laws (1995-); Bills (1993-); House & Senate Reports (1995-); Conference Reports (current & a few archived); Congressional Record (1994-); History of Bills (1983-); Committee Hearings (1995-); Committee Prints (1997)
Federal Legislative History On Web Congressional Committees and Subcommittees pages. Committee hearings & documents.Congressional Committees and Subcommittees pages Also Law Librarian’s Society.Law Librarian’s Society CRS Reports – several sourcesseveral sources Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (1993- )Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents American Memory Project – Documents from 1774-1875American Memory Project
Compiling Legislative History Online Step 1: Find text of Public Law –Search for Act Title (Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act) or Keywords (gun manufacturers “civil liability”) in Thomas.gov or GPO Access Thomas.govGPO Access OR –If know US Code section (15 USC 7901), look for Public Law number in Code section history
Compiling Legislative History Online Step 3: Look for amendments to bill, companion bills, & different versions of bill submitted to prior Congresses. Companion bills listed in Thomas Bill Summaries. For bills in prior Congresses, search bills database for keywords or title of Act or both.
Compiling Legislative History Online Step 4: Search for relevant Congressional record sections Congressional Record Sections listed in Thomas Bill Summary. Statements made by bill sponsor have more weight.
Conclusion Free Legislative history documents can be found on the Web, especially for recent years. Using commercial sources (eg, CIS Index, LexisNexis) may be easier. Also, compiled legislative histories may be available from such commercial sources. LexisNexis Congressional Universe available from Cleveland Public Library with CPL library card number & PIN. Cleveland Public Library Ask for help when using commercial sources in a library or when looking for free Web sources.