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California Legislative History Research: Expanding your search

Attempt to find what legislators were thinking when drafting a law by looking at the documents created during the legislative process.

Archives

The California State Archives Office will research their holdings for you for relevant materials, which are exclusively available in the Archives, not in any other libraries. A list of the legislative resources preserved in the Archives can be found here, and may be obtained using this order form. The archivists will perform the search for you for free, and charge you a reasonable fee for photocopies. The turnaround time (from receipt of a request to sending out copies) is usually within a week. See the above URL for contact information.

Periodicals

Use indexes such as LegalTrac and Index to Legal Periodicals to find law review articles on your legislation and/or the subject of your legislation. Also check the Main Library's A-Z Databases list for indexes and full-text databases to search newspapers and other journal articles. You may type "california newspapers" in the search box at the top of the list to find sources. California Digital Newspaper Collection can be particularly useful.

Assembly file analysis

For 1975 to present:  (Micro Room, LL205, Case L, Drawer 2) Prepared by the Assembly Office of Research, this is a nonpartisan analysis of each bill giving committee digest, comments, fiscal effect, and amendments.  Frequently, this will be the only place you will find committee reports.

Legislators

It is sometimes effective to contact the bill's author; especially for recently enacted legislation (s/he may have materials in his or her file cabinets, plus other leads). Be sure to provide the year and bill number when requesting bill analysis information. Ask at the reference desk for phone numbers.

Other places to look

Don't forget about advocacy groups, research centers, think tanks and foundations that may have been interested in the legislation. Try the following:

Professional help

For a fee you may have your search done by a commercial searching service, and since they have access to materials in Sacramento that we do not receive in our library, such a search may turn up useful information. Some services to try are:

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