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Arizona Legislative History: A Step-By-Step Guide

Eight Step Research Process

Step One:

Locate the law or code section

Start with the Arizona law or code section to be searched. Remember, if you don't know the code section, Google! Example: A.R.S. Sect. 36-3201ff on Living Wills and Health Care Directives. The date of the legislative session and chapter number follows the statute. Ex: Laws 1992, Ch. 193.

 Step Two:

Find the session law

Locate the session law in the Arizona Session Laws. In the corresponding volume of Session Laws of Arizona, locate the chapter which is the law as passed by the legislature. The House bill (H.B.) or Senate bill (S.B.) number indicates where the bill originated. Example: Chapter 193 in the 1992 session laws is H.B. 2247 (House bill).

Step Three:

Review the Bill History

Consult the House and Senate Journals under the bill number in the “Bill History” section. In each Journal for the year of legislation, locate the bill number in the History of House and Senate Bills sections. Chronologies begin with the date of first reading through the various committees to the date of the Governor's signature. Sponsors of the legislation are given. Note the committees (except Rules) and dates. If committees made amendments to the original bill these are mentioned. The Journals provide very little substantive information except a sense of the pattern of the bill through its process and votes.

Step Four:

Review the Committees Section

Check the Committees Section in the House and Senate Journals. Checking the Committees section of the Journals, as well as the prior year Journals, is useful to determine if an Interim, Special or Study Committee issued a special report on the topic of legislation. Ex: Living Will, Health Care Power of Attorney and Surrogate Decision Making Study Committee is found in the Committees section in the 1991 Journals. Copies of these reports will be on file with the House Clerk and Senate Resource Office. A few substantial reports are listed in the University of Arizona online catalog and the State Library catalog.

For Title 13 criminal statutes, some legislative history commentary is available in the 1975 report by the Criminal Code Commission that developed a substantial revision of the state's criminal laws: Arizona Revised Criminal Code (KFA 2961 A82 1975 Law Reserve; Arizona Collection). Committee Chairman Hon. Rudolph Gerber provides original report information with updated information in his Criminal Law of Arizona (2d ed. 1993, 2000) (KFA 2961 G47 1993.  Law Arizona Reference).

Step Five:

Review the Original Bill

Find a copy of the original bill as introduced. Locate a copy of the original bill to compare language and content between the initial bill and the final enacted legislation. The State Library at the Capitol has bills from 1912, and the House Clerk and Senate Resource Office have bills from 1995. The College of Law Library has a limited number of bills (House 1971-1975: Film 024 and Senate 1969-1978: Film 025). University of Arizona Main Library has bills for the House (KFA 2406 H68) and Senate (KFA 2406 S46) with the latest year in Reference and previous years in stacks; pre-1988 bills are in Special Collections.

Step Six:

Contact the Experts

Call or visit the House Clerk Office and Senate Resource Center for materials. Provide the clerk with the information collected in the search. A search of the bill file will provide the original and amended versions, and the committee files may provide comments about the considered legislation and references to documents from the Special and Study Committees. Minutes of committee meetings have been kept from 1970 (1965 to 1970 is scant) though not as verbatim transcripts. The House Clerk and Senate Resource Center will search print sources and report their findings and cost of copying. Audio tapes of meetings are available from the House from 1992 and the Senate for the past 3 years, but relevant information may be limited. Photocopy of print and microfilm sources is $.10 per page and tapes are available for $5.00 each. Allow plenty of time for this service, particularly when the legislature is in session in the spring.

Step Seven:     

Check other sources

Locate articles in periodicals and newspapers. Consult law review and other journals for articles cited in print and online sources. Example: Health Care Directives and Decisions, Chester B. McLaughlin and Robert B. Fleming, 30 Ariz. Atty 13 (Aug./Sept. 1993).

Step Eight:

Check Westlaw and LexisAdvance

           Search Arizona cases database on Westlaw or LexisAdvance.