The first instance of a law passed by the Arizona Legislature is called a slip law. Slip laws from 1991-present are available on the website of the Arizona State Legislature. The website defaults to the current legislative session; information for past sessions can be accessed by using the drop-down box at the top of the page.
At the end of each legislative session, slip laws are collected and arranged chronologically into a permanent set of bound volumes called session laws. Session laws are published by the Secretary of State and are issued annually at the end of every session.
In addition to enacted legislation, Arizona session laws contain:
Each session law is assigned a chapter number. At the beginning of each chapter, you will find the title of the bill and the Senate or House bill number. Bills that originated in the House are designated "H.B." while bills that originated in the Senate are designated "S.B." Bills are essentially sets of instructions. Additions are indicated by blue UPPERCASE text or, sometimes, underlined text. Stricken language is indicated by red
strike through text.
Session laws are not cumulative and not arranged by subject, making it difficult to locate laws on particular topics. Session laws of a general, public, and permanent nature are eventually compiled into the state code known as the Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.). The A.R.S. is cumulative and arranged by subject, making it much easier to locate laws on particular topics.
Session laws from 1991-present are available on the website of the Arizona State Legislature. The website defaults to the current legislative session; information for past sessions can be accessed by using the drop-down box at the top of the page. Session laws from 1912-present are available from the Arizona Memory Project. You can also access session laws from HeinOnline (1864-present, available on campus or remotely with ASURITE) and in print at the Law Library (1912-present).
The Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) is the official statutory code of the State of Arizona. It comprises all laws and statutes of a general, public, and permanent nature. An unannotated version is freely available on the website of the Arizona State Legislature (although, researchers should note that this version is updated less frequently than the A.R.S.A.).
The Arizona Revised Statutes Annotated (A.R.S.A.), published by Thomson Reuters, is the official, annotated version of the code. In addition to the text of every statute included in the unannotated version, it contains information like statutory notes, historical notes, and citations to law reviews, legal forms, legal encyclopedias, treatises, and West Digest key numbers. Attorney General opinions and cross-references to the Arizona Administrative Code, the United States Code, or various Uniform Laws may also be present. Moreover, notes of decisions are included in the annotated version, which provide topical lists of cases interpreting particular statutes as well as brief synopses of the points of law discussed in those cases. Thus, when researching Arizona statutes, it is wise to use the annotated version of the code. But, citations should always be made to the Arizona Revised Statutes. See A.R.S. § 1-101.
Important: Understanding the historical notes of an annotated statute is a vital skill, especially when it comes to legislative history. For example, A.R.S. § 41-1003 contains the following historical annotation: "Added by Laws 1986, Ch. 232, § 4, eff. Jan. 1, 1987. Amended by Laws 1998, Ch. 57, § 19." This indicates that the statute was added by the 1986 sessions laws, chapter 232, section 4. It was then amended by the 1998 session laws, chapter 57, section 19. Historical notes are only present in the annotated version.
In addition to enacted legislation, the A.R.S.A. contains:
The current version of the Arizona Revised Statutes Annotated in print is located in the main reading room of the Law Library. Superseded versions and territorial codes preceding statehood are also available upon request. The code can be accessed electronically at the following locations:
Bills can be introduced by either chamber. Bills create new laws, amend, or repeal existing laws.
Memorials are requests or proposals directed at named recipients (e.g., the United States Congress). They petition the recipient to act on an issue that is beyond the legislature's jurisdiction. Memorials are merely requests and do not have the force or effect of law. Memorials can be considered by one chamber (simple) or by both chambers (concurrent).
Resolutions are declarations or expressions of opinion, will, intent, or resolve in matters within the legislature's jurisdiction. There are three types of resolutions:
Each type of proposed legislation is assigned a unique number. Legislation is numbered consecutively in the order it is introduced.
For legislation proposed in the Senate, numbering begins at 1001 (e.g., the first bill introduced in the Senate would be identified as S.B. 1001, the second would be S.B. 1002, the third would be S.B. 1003, etc.).
For legislation proposed in the House of Representatives, numbering begins at 2001 (e.g., the first bill introduced in the House of Representatives would be identified as H.B. 2001, the second would be H.B. 2002, the third would be H.B. 2003, etc.).
Each Legislature lasts for two years and is generally composed of a first regular session followed by a second regular session, although special sessions are frequently called to consider individual pieces of legislation.
Important: Proposed legislation not enacted before the Legislature adjourns is said to have "died." The proposed legislation can be reintroduced in the next Legislature, but it will receive a new number. It is therefore helpful to know either the year or the Legislature in which the proposed legislation was introduced in order to track it over time.
Bills, memorials, and resolutions from 1997 to present are available on the website of the Arizona State Legislature under the "Bill Info" section. Use the drop-down box at the top of the page to select the appropriate legislative session. Click on the "Bills" tab, then click on "Bill Info." You can search for proposed legislation by keyword, chamber, or number. Once you have located the legislation, click on the "Documents" tab to obtain the text.
Bills, memorials, and resolutions are also available via the Clerk of the House and the Senate Resource Center:
Clerk of the House
The Clerk of the House maintains a collection of bill, resolution, and memorial files beginning in 1965. These files contain the introduced version of proposed legislation and all of its subsequent versions.
1700 W. Washington Street
2nd Floor, House of Representatives Building
Telephone: (602) 926-4221
Senate Resource Center
The Senate Resource Center maintains bill, resolution, and memorial files beginning in 1969. These files contain the introduced version of proposed legislation and all of it subsequent versions.
1700 W. Washington Street
1st Floor, Senate Building
Telephone: (602) 926-3559
The Ross-Blakley Law Library has the following bills, memorials, and resolutions in print:
The ASU Library has the following bills, memorials, and resolutions in print:
Bill tracking follows the progress of pending legislation as it is makes its way through the legislative process. It can be used to track current bills to see if they are near passage or rejection. It can also be used retrospectively on prior legislation.
The first initiative to go before Arizona voters came the same year Arizona achieved statehood, 1912, and concerned the issue of women's suffrage. Below is information on where the text of, and information on, Arizona voter initiatives can be accessed.
Arizona Secretary of State
The website of the Arizona Secretary of State has a list of the initiative, referendum, and recall applications that have been submitted for the current election cycle.
Arizona Memory Project
Initiative and referendum publicity pamphlets are available for the years 1912 to the most recent election cycle on the website of the Arizona Memory Project. The publicity pamphlets include the full text of each proposed ballot measure.
Initiative & Referendum Institute
The Initiative & Referendum Institute at the University of Southern California is a non-partisan educational organization dedicated to the study of the initiative and referendum process in the United States. The Institute's resources for Arizona include a list of all initiatives and referenda proposed in the state, that both passed and failed.
Ballotpedia contains a wide range of political and policy information, including neutral compendia of ballot measures for all 50 states. The site provides a list of Arizona ballot measures for the years 1912 to the most recent election cycle, including information on the type of measure and its result.
The Arizona legislature consists of a Senate and a House of Representatives. Each legislature lasts two years and consists of a first regular session and a second regular session. Regular sessions begin the second Monday in January and generally last 100 days. Either the legislature or the Governor (or both) may call special sessions. In special sessions called by the Governor, the legislature may only consider matters specified by the Governor. There is no such limitation for special sessions called by the legislature.
Bills are prepared for introduction by the Arizona Legislative Council, which may also draft the bill upon request. Bills are drafted in accordance with the Arizona Legislative Bill Drafting Manual, which is available on the website of the Legislative Council under the "Publications" tab. The Legislative Council is a joint legislative committee with members from both the House and the Senate and a professional staff. The Council is responsible for making sure each bill is in proper form, for knowing how each bill will affect other statutes, and for making determinations of whether each bill is constitutional. The Legislative Council also checks bills for compliance with the constitutional requirement that each act cover one subject only and that the title of each act express that subject. Ariz. Const. Art. IV, Part 2, § 13. Bills are essentially sets of instructions. Additions are indicated by blue UPPERCASE text or, sometimes, underlined text. Stricken language is indicated by red
strike through text.
In the House, bills must be introduced in the first 29 days of a regular session and the first 10 days of a special session. In the Senate, bills must be introduced in the first 22 days of a regular session and the first 10 days of a special session. In both the House and the Senate, Rules Committee approval is needed to introduce bills after those deadlines. Bills may also be pre-filed before the legislative session begins.
Bills are introduced by a member of the House (for House bills) or a member of the Senate (for Senate bills), although they may also be initiated by other sources. When a bill is introduced, it is placed in a box called the "hopper" in the office of the Clerk of the House or the Secretary of the Senate. The bill is then given a number. The numbering of Senate bills starts at 1001, and the numbering of House bills starts at 2001. This numbering is retained throughout the session.
Once introduced, bills are put on the calendar for a first reading. The Arizona Constitution requires that each bill have three readings, which means that every bill must be read in its entirety on three separate days. Ariz Const. Art. IV, Part 2, § 12. To expedite matters, there is an exception to the three-readings requirement in cases of emergency. In the House, bills are referred to committee at the first reading, and the second reading occurs before the bill is considered by the Committee of the Whole. In the Senate, bills are referred to committee at either the first or second reading. All bills must be sent to at least one standing committee in addition to the Rules Committee. The Rules Committee is a standing committee in both the House and the Senate that must approve each bill, determining whether the bill and any amendments are constitutional and in proper form. The Rules Committee must also make sure that any proposed amendments are on the same subject as the original bill and its title. The Rules Committee may propose amendments to a bill to correct any deficiencies.
Standing committees hold meetings at regularly scheduled times and may hold additional, special meetings as necessary. Agenda are prepared for each committee meeting that list all of the bills to be considered at that time. Only bills listed on the agenda may be discussed on that particular day. Fact sheets or bill summaries are usually prepared and distributed to committee members by committee staff. There may or may not be hearings on bills considered by the committee. Committees may propose amendments to bills, but any amendments are not incorporated into the bill at this time; amendments are kept separate until they are approved by the Committee of the Whole. If a bill receives a positive vote by a majority of the committee, it is sent to the chamber with a "do pass" recommendation. After the meeting, committee staff prepare minutes recording the date, time, and place of the meeting, the names of members who were present or absent, a general description of the matters considered, and an accounting of all actions proposed, discussed, or taken.
Amendments may be added to a bill by a committee, by the Committee of the Whole, or by a conference committee. One type of amendment is a "strike everything after the enacting clause" amendment or, alternatively, a "striker," which may only be proposed by a standing committee. Strikers are total replacements of the text of a bill where everything is stricken after the enacting clause ("Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Arizona..."). Strikers may be on an entirely different subject than the text that is deleted. Legislators use strikers to circumvent deadlines for introducing bills or to revive bills that have died. Notice periods for strikers are longer than notice periods for other amendments.
Once out of committee, bills go on the calendar of the Committee of the Whole. A bill may be placed on the Active Calendar of the Committee of the Whole so that it can debate the bill, propose amendments, or vote on whether the bill should go to third reading. Alternatively, a bill without any amendments can be placed on the Consent Calendar where it will bypass the Committee of the Whole and go directly to third reading. Before a bill receives its third reading, it is sent to the Legislative Council where it is "engrossed." During engrossment, approved amendments are incorporated into the bill. Once a bill has become engrossed, no further amendments or debates may take place in the originating chamber.
After a bill receives its third reading, it is subject to an electronic roll call vote. If the bill fails to attract a majority of votes, it can be revived by a motion to reconsider if the motion is made the day of the vote or the next day by a legislator who voted against the bill. Once a bill has cleared its first chamber, it is sent to the other chamber where the whole process is repeated. When a bill passes the second chamber without amendment, it is sent to the Governor. When a bill passes the second chamber with an amendment and the originating chamber agrees to the amendment, it is sent to the Governor. Otherwise, if the House and Senate cannot agree on the language of a bill, it is sent to a conference committee. The conference committee will try to reconcile the differences between the two bills. If successful, it will send an amended bill with a conference committee report back to each chamber for a vote. If the amended bill is approved by each chamber, it is sent to the Governor.
The Governor has five days to act on a bill if the legislature is in session or ten days to act if the legislature has adjourned. The Governor may sign the bill, allow it to become law without signature, or veto it. If a bill is vetoed and the legislature is still in session, the House and Senate may override the veto by a 2/3 vote. When a bill is vetoed after the legislature has adjourned, the bill dies. Upon signature by the Governor, the bill is sent to the Secretary of State where it becomes an act, receives a chapter number for publication in the Arizona session laws, and is eventually codified in the Arizona Revised Statutes. The new law takes effect 90 days after the legislature adjourns or, if it is an emergency bill, immediately after signing.
For a visual representation of how an Arizona bill becomes law, click here.
Direct legislation in Arizona consists of initiatives and referenda.
Initiatives are proposed changes to Arizona statutes or the Arizona Constitution that must be approved by Arizona voters. For an initiative to be placed on a ballot, a petition containing the text of the proposed measure and the signatures of Arizona registered voters totaling at least 10% of the number of votes cast in the most recent gubernatorial election (15% for constitutional amendments) must be filed with the Secretary of State at least four months before the general election. Once verified by county recorders and the Secretary of State, the measure is placed on the ballot. All registered Arizona voters then receive publicity pamphlets containing the text of the initiative, an impartial analysis provided by the Legislative Council, arguments for and against the proposal that have been submitted to the Secretary of State, and a fiscal impact statement. If an initiative wins the approval of a majority of voters, it becomes effective when the election results are proclaimed by the Governor.
Referenda are attempts by voters to repeal legislation enacted in the most recent legislative session. Laws "immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health, or safety, or for the support and maintenance of the departments of the state government and state institutions" are not subject to referenda. Ariz. Const. Art. IV, Part 1, § 1. Proponents of referenda have 90 days after the adjournment of the session when the legislation was enacted to file petitions. This is why new legislation is not effective until 90 days after the legislature adjourns. The petition must have the signatures of Arizona registered voters totaling at least 5% of votes cast in the last gubernatorial election. After the petition is successfully filed with the Secretary of State, the new legislation is stayed until the referendum is approved or disapproved by voters in the next general election. Referenda may also be submitted by the legislature to voters for their approval or disapproval of new legislation, and all Arizona constitutional amendments proposed by the legislature must be submitted to voters.
In 1998, by initiative, the Arizona Constitution was amended to declare that the Governor may not veto successful initiatives or referenda and that successful initiatives or referenda may not be repealed or amended by the legislature unless the amendment furthers the purposes of the initiative or referendum and is approved by a 3/4 vote in each chamber. Ariz. Const. Art. IV, Part 1, § 1. Because this provision was added to the Constitution in 1998, it only affects initiatives and referenda after that date.