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How do I research the legislative history of an Illinois or federal statute?

Legislative history is most relevant for providing background to interpret statutory language. Print resources are particularly useful for older searches, while recent legislation is probably most easily researched utilizing electronic resources.

Illinois Legislative History

Print Resources

Find the calendar year of passage and the Public Act number by checking the codified statutes in West's Smith-Hurd Illinois Compiled Statutes Annotated. The Smith-Hurd set is located on the Law Library's third floor at Call No. KFI 1230 1993 .A4

With the Public Act number, and the year of passage, check the Laws of Illinois for the bill number and the exact date of passage. The Laws of Illinois volumes may be found on the Library's third floor at Call No. KFI 1225.  

Illinois Senate committee hearings and reports are not available. Hearings of the House committees, however, are available on audio tapes directly from the Clerk of the House of Representatives by calling 217.782.8100. 

Transcribed debates from the floors of the House and Senate are available in microfiche format. Check the indices to the fiche arranged by year and bill number.  The indices are located at Call Nos. KFI 1212.H6 17 and KFI 1212 .S4 17 on the Library's third floor, while the microfiche is filed in the fourth floor Microform Room. 

Check the Illinois Legislative Synopsis and Digest arranged by year and bill number for quick summaries of all the legislative activity regarding any particular bill. These volumes are located at Call No. KFI 1207 .I4 on the Library's third floor. 

Additionally, check the Journals for the Illinois House and Senate. The Journals contain charts at the end of each session, arranged by bill number, which refer to relevant pages within the Journals. The Journals are shelved on the Library's third floor at Call Nos. KFI 1218.H and KFI 1218.S.  The Journals may contain texts of the floor amendments to bills, as well as the Governor?s signing or veto message.

Online Resources

For legislative histories of more recent Illinois legislation, see the Illinois General Assembly's web site at  www.ilga.gov.  House  proceedings are also now available in DVD format from the Clerk of the House.


Print Resources

Find the calendar year of passage and the bill number by checking the codified statutes in West's United States Code Annotated (USCA). Sets of the USCA are located in the Law Library's third floor reference section (Call No. KF 62.W4), as well as on the fourth floor at the same call number. 

Note the date of passage and the Public Law (PL) number. Check the annotations to the statute for any references to United States Code Congressional and Administrative News (USCCAN) (Call No. KF 48), which includes select Congressional reports reflecting the enacted legislation.  Using the date and the PL number, check the United States Statutes at Large (either the original or the reprint in USCCAN) for the bill number.  The Statutes at Large volumes are located on the Library's fourth floor at Call No. KF 50.

Using the bill number, check the CIS Indices to Publications of the United States Congress for references to Congressional hearings and reports.  The CIS Indices are shelved in the Library's reference section at Call No. KF 49.C62.  The documents themselves are located in a microfiche set at Call No. KF 49.C615 in the Library's fourth floor Microform Room, under the year and the CIS number.

Using the subject indices and the PL number, check the CIS Legislative History Indices for references to the Congressional Record for debates on the bill. Paper copies of the Congressional Record are shelved at Call No. KF 35 on the  Library's fourth floor.  To locate other copies of the Congressional Record, see FAQ #10

Online Resources

For online resources for federal legislative history, subscribers may access the "Legislative Histories" link in LexisNexis.  Loyola patrons may also utilize LexisNexis' CIS Exchange database available via the Loyola network.  Federal legislative histories of more recent legislation are also available at http://thomas.loc.gov/.

Other Resources

Political and/or social history may also be useful in Illinois and federal legislative history research.  For Illinois questions, consult Chicago and Springfield newspapers, as well as the periodical, Illinois Issues, shelved at Call No. JK 5701.I38 on the fourth floor. For federal questions, see the Congressional Quarterly Almanac, also located on the Library's fourth floor at Call No. KF 49.C652.  

For the law controlling legislative interpretation, check the indices to the relevant statutes. Also, see Sutherland Statutes and Statutory Construction, available in print on the Library's fifth floor at Call No. KF 425.S9 2000, or electronically in Westlaw (Database Identifier:  SUTHERLAND). 

Prepared  by Sherman Lewis


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