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California Legislative History Research

Introduction

Legislative history refers to the events and documentation surrounding the consideration and enactment of a particular legislative bill.  Legislative history research consists of looking for this documentation, which can often be helpful in shedding light on the meaning or intent of a particular piece of legislation or of specific language contained within that legislation.

This guide provides basic information on performing California legislative history research.  It begins with a discussion of the major sources of California legislative history and then follows with an outline of some basic steps you can follow to see if there is any pertinent California legislative history readily available electronically or in print at USC.  It also suggests some other places you may wish to contact if you decide you want to pursue your research further.  It is advisable to keep fairly low expectations when performing California legislative history research given that documents produced by the California legislature are not that readily available.

Other Resources

For a more in-depth discussion of the California legislative process and legislative history research in California, consult chapter 4 of Henke's California Law Guide, 8th ed. (available in the Law Library's Ready Reference section, KFC74 .H53 2006).  Additionally, both the California State Senate and California’s Legislative Counsel websites provide overviews of the legislative process, explaining how laws are enacted in California.  And for guidance on doing legislative history research for a federal bill or law, consult the USC Law Library guide Federal Legislative History Research.