Researching legislative history is important in order to determine the legislative intent behind difficult statutory language. For most states, locating legislative history documents is virtually impossible, but Texas provides a substantial amount of information online through the following two websites:
Texas Legislature Online
Legislative Reference Library of Texas
The goal is to locate the bill file which contains different versions of the bill, analyses, committee reports, history of the bill, and anticipated fiscal impact of the bill. Follow these simple steps to research Texas Legislative History:
1. Locate the code section by using the Texas Legislature Online website and click "Statutes" from the main page. Look for the statement at the end of the code section that contains the legislative session and chapter number.
2. Go to the Legislative Reference Library of Texas website, click "Bill Chapter Cross Reference Table", and select the legislative session and chapter number to determine the bill number.
3. For bills from 1993-present, go to the Texas Legislature Online website and enter the bill number and legislative session to access the bill file. For bills from 1961-2001, you can obtain the bill file from the Legislative Reference Library's site by selecting "Legislative Archive System".
Bill files will not contain transcripts to floor debates or committee hearings. In Texas, such hearings are tape recorded and are available by contacting the Texas House/Senate Media offices. Recent hearings are accessible on the Texas Legislature Online website.
To learn more about researching Texas legislative history, consult the O'Quinn Law Library's research guide by selecting "Legal Research Guides" from the drop down menu under "Research Resources" on the law library's website at http://www.law.uh.edu/Libraries.
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