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Arizona Law

Arizona Legislative History Research

Legislative history refers to the process that a piece of proposed legislation goes through before it becomes law and consists of the documents created during that process. Legislative history research is often conducted to investigate why the legislature passed a particular law or to assist scholars, lawyers, and judges in interpreting a law.

Additional Arizona legislative history guides:

Researchers of Arizona legislation may also wish to consult the Arizona Legislative Manual, a publication of the Arizona Legislature's Legislative Council. The manual offers a narrative of what the Arizona Legislature is what goes on in the Legislature. It relates the requirements and practices that are prescribed by the Arizona Constitution, laws, and rules for the Arizona Legislature.

Legislative history materials for Arizona legislation passed in the 39th Legislature or earlier (before 1990) are primarily available in print resources. Below are steps to conducting legislative history research for legislation passed before 1997.

  1. Look Up Code Section to be Researched
    Locate the latest version of the code section to be researched in the Arizona Revised Statutes Annotated (A.R.S.A.) (see where to access the A.R.S.A. under the Arizona Legislature section of this guide). Read the history note following the code section. Note the original chapter number and date. Determine what amendments are relevant to your search. If you are using the print A.R.S.A., do not forget to check the pocket part to ensure you have accessed the most recent version of the statute.

    The A.R.S.A. also lists "Law Review and Journal Commentaries," "Notes of Decisions," and other annotations for individual statutory sections that be may be relevant to your research so be sure check for that information while accessing the print statutory code.
     
  2. Find the Session Law Passed by the Arizona Legislature
    Look up the original chapter number in the Arizona Session Laws and note the original bill number and whether it originated in the House or the Senate.  Bills that originated in the House are designated by “H.B.” and bills that originated in the Senate are designated by “S.B.”

    Arizona session laws from 1989 (39th Legislature) to date are on the Arizona State Legislature website (the site default is to the current legislative session. For another session, click on “change session” in the navigation bar at the top). Session laws 1912-1996 are available on the Arizona Memory Project website.  Arizona Session Laws are also available on HeinOnline (1864-present, available on campus or remotely with ASURITE), on the University of Arizona Daniel F. Craccchiolo Law Library website (1864-1909), and in print at the Law Library (1912-present).
     
  3. Locate Copies of All Versions of the Bill
    House Bills and Slip Laws (print, 1982–2007)
    Senate Bills and Slip Laws (print, 1982–2007)
    Legislative History Files: House and Senate Bills (microform, 1971-75)
    State of Arizona Research Library (print, 1917- present)
     
  4. Consult the Journals of Both the House and Senate
    The Journal of the Senate and the Journal of the House record the proceedings of each session of the Arizona Legislature for each individual chamber and include the Governor's Opening Message to the Legislature, the disposition of bills, votes, and veto messages.

    When consulting the journals turn to the tab marked “History” for the year of the legislation. Look up the bill number and copy the chronology of actions taken on the bill. Do this in both the House and Senate Journals. Note which committee(s) considered the bill, as well as the time period that the bill was considered. While the History also lists the pages within the Journals that mention each bill, those pages do not offer any additional information.

    The House Journal can be accessed in print in the Law Library (1921-current) and on the Arizona Memory Project website (1912-current); the Senate Journal can be accessed in print in the Law Library (1921-current and on the Arizona Memory Project website (1912-current).
     
  5. Check for Interim, Special, or Study Committee Reports
    To see if the Legislature appointed an Interim, Special, or Study committee on the subject of the legislation, first check the Committee Section of both the House and Senate Journals for the year the legislation was enacted, plus a year or two before. Much of the investigative work goes on in these temporary groups and they sometimes issue reports and recommendations to the Legislature generally, or to specific committees.

    To access a committee report that you find listed in the Journals, you will need to contact the State Capitol to access the bill and committee files at the Clerk of the House (for House bills) or the Senate Resource Center (for Senate bills). Take all the information you have gathered thus far. Ask each clerk for the Bill File (House, 1965 to date; Senate, 1969 to date) which will contain all the proposed amendments and versions of the bill and the Committee Files for the committees that considered the legislation. Then browse through the minutes during the time period the bill was being considered. (Don't bother with the Rules Committee file). The State of Arizona Research Library also has bill files available on microfilm for the House (1971-1994) and Senate (1969-1990).

    While looking through the files, watch for references to Interim Study Committees, Special Committees, or the Arizona Legislative Council. If you find a reference to a document produced by one of these groups, consult with the Clerk. These documents are rarely appended to the committee minutes. If the Clerk of the House or Secretary of the Senate do not have a copy of the committee report you are seeking, contact the State of Arizona Research Library (602-926-3870) or the Legislative Council (602-926-4236) to see if they might.

    Contact Information for the Clerk of the House and Senate Resource Center
    Clerk of the House
    The Clerk of the House maintains a collection of bill, resolution, and memorial files from 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 from 1969. These bill 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 majority of legislative history materials for Arizona legislation passed in the 40th Legislature or after (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 utilizing the “change session” link in the navigation bar at the top of the page. Below are steps to conducting legislative history research for legislation passed 1991-present.

  1. Look Up Code Section to be Researched
    Locate the latest version of the code section to be researched in the Arizona Revised Statutes Annotated (A.R.S.A.) (see where to access the A.R.S.A. under the Arizona Legislature section of this guide). Read the history note following the code section. Note the original chapter number and date. Determine what amendments are relevant to your search. If you are using the print A.R.S.A., do not forget to check the pocket part to ensure you have accessed the most recent version of the statute.

    The A.R.S.A. also lists "Law Review and Journal Commentaries," "Notes of Decisions," and other annotations for individual statutory sections that be may be relevant to your research so be sure check for that information while accessing the print statutory code.
     
  2. Find the Session Law Passed by the Arizona Legislature
    Look up the original chapter number in the Arizona Session Laws and note the original bill number and whether it originated in the House or the Senate.  Bills that originated in the House are designated by “H.B.” and bills that originated in the Senate are designated by “S.B.”

    Arizona session laws from 1989 (39th Legislature) to date are on the Arizona State Legislature website (the site default is to the current legislative session. For another session, click on “change session” in the navigation bar at the top). Session laws 1912-1996 are available on the Arizona Memory Project website.  Arizona Session Laws are also available on HeinOnline (1864-present, available on campus or remotely with ASURITE), on the University of Arizona Daniel F. Craccchiolo Law Library website (1864-1909), and in print at the Law Library (1912-present).
     
  3. Locate Copies of All Versions of the Bill
    House Bills from 1997 to date are available on the Arizona State Legislature website by utilizing the “change session” link in the navigation bar at the top of the page; after selecting your desired legislative session, click on the "Bills" tab, navigate to "Bill Info," and then select "House Bills."

    Senate Bills from 1997 to date are available on the Arizona State Legislature website by utilizing the “change session” link in the navigation bar at the top of the page; after selecting your desired legislative session, click on the "Bills" tab, navigate to "Bill Info," and then select "Senate Bills."

    Additional sources for House and Senate bills:
    House Bills and Slip Laws (print, 1982–2007)
    Senate Bills and Slip Laws (print, 1982–2007)
    Legislative History Files: House and Senate Bills (microform, 1971-75)
    State of Arizona Research Library (print, 1917- present)
     
  4. Check for Interim, Special, or Study Committee Reports
    To see if the Legislature appointed an Interim, Special, or Study committee on the subject of the legislation, check the list of Interim Committees on the website of the Arizona State Legislature.  Much of the investigative work of the legislature goes on in these temporary groups and they sometimes issue reports and recommendations to the Legislature generally, or to specific committees.  Be sure to select the appropriate legislative session for the piece of legislation you are researching by utilizing the “change session” link in the navigation bar at the top of the page. 

    The Arizona State Law Library's Legislative Study Committee Reports collection within the online Arizona Memory Project also provides access to Interim, Special, and Study committee reports. For detailed information on researching this special collection, consult a reference librarian.
     
  5. Read the Appropriate Committee Information
    Committee information from 1997-present, including minutes and agendas, is available on the Arizona State Legislature's website under the "Committees" tab.  The minutes are indexed by committee and then by the date that the committee heard the bill. It is necessary to know the committee(s) that heard the bill and the date(s) it was heard. This information is available from the “Bill Overview” reports link. Committee meetings from 2007-present can be viewed at the Legislature’s Live Proceedings webpage

Search for Commentary on the Legislation
There may be commentary related to the legislation you are researching. You can search for this commentary by checking the online catalogs of Arizona State University and the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records for materials that might relate to the legislation.

Be sure to also consult the Arizona Bar Journal (1965–1988), Arizona AttorneyArizona Law Review, and Arizona State Law Journal for articles that may discuss the legislation. Most of these publications can be found full-text on Lexis and Westlaw (1980 to date) or HeinOnline (available on campus or remotely with ASURITE).

Newspapers are also good potential sources of commentary on Arizona legislation.  Both local and national newspapers should be searched.  Local newspapers include the Arizona Republic (1930-current at Hayden Library, 1999-current via ProQuest: Arizona Republic) and its predecessor the Arizona Republican (1890-1922 via ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Arizona Republican, 1890-1930 at Hayden Library), as well as the Arizona Daily Star (1991-current via Access World News) and Arizona Capitol Times (2003-current via Business Insights).  Multiple national newspapers can be searched through the databases ProQuest News & Newspapers and Access World News

Search for Arizona Cases 
See if a judge referred to some aspect of the statute's legislative history in the course of his or her opinion. See the Arizona Courts page of this research guide for information on accessing state court opinions. 

Arizona Initiatives and Referenda
For information on researching initiatives and referenda in Arizona, see Tina Ching, Arizona Initiatives and Referenda, 26 Leg. Ref. Serv. Q. 21 (no. 3/4 2007).