Typical materials

Before you begin > Legislative history vs. legislative intent > Typical materials > Starting with what you know > Other helpful resources

When researching legislative intent, you may need to examine a wide range of documents:


Statutes are the codified version of the laws, available at Texas Legislature Online and published by Thomson West as Vernon's Texas Statutes and Codes Annotated. The complete set of Vernon's Texas Statutes and Codes Annotated is available at the Legislative Reference Library and may be available at other major Texas libraries.

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Session Laws

General and Special Laws of the State of Texas, also called the "Session Laws," are a compilation of all the bills, joint and concurrent resolutions enacted in a particular session, arranged by chapter number and published by the Texas Secretary of State. Session laws are available at the Legislative Reference Library and and may be available at other major Texas libraries.

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Bill History

The bill history is a list of all legislative actions on a bill and the dates on which each action took place, and the House or Senate journal page number.

Legislature Format Location
71st (1989) forward Electronic Texas Legislature Online, click on "Actions."
63rd (1973) - 71st (1989) Electronic Legislative Archive System
Scanned bill history indexes from the Legislative Reference Library website. Bill histories are available in groups of 100 bills.
1st (1846) - 62nd (1971) Print & electronic House and Senate Journals, available at the Legislative Reference Library, the Texas State Archives, and online. Look up your bill number in the index, located in the last volume of the journals for a particular session.

Below is a sample bill history. The H's and S's to the left of the action indicate whether the action occurred in the House or the Senate. The page numbers at the far right show pages in the House and Senate Journals that include bill entries. For dates of legislative discussion, necessary for obtaining audio tapes, note the actions of "considered in public hearing" and the committee name, "read 2nd time," and "read 3rd time," and the dates each occurred.

  Description Date Journal page
H Referred to Insurance [Committee name] 3/12/97 1100
H Considered in Public Hearing 3/14/97   [Date, may be more than one]  
H Read 2nd time 3/25/97 1105
H Read 3rd time 3/25/97 1110
S Referred to Business and Commerce 4/13/97 300
S Considered in Public Hearing 4/15/97    
S Read 2nd time 4/20/97 305
S Read 3rd time 4/21/97 320

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Bill files

If you know the bill number and the legislative session in which it was introduced, you can examine the bill file in the Legislative Reference Library's Legislative Archive System. The bill file is the collection of official documents produced during the bill's movement through the legislative process, and may contain:

Transcripts of committee hearings or floor debates are not included in these files.

Bill File Availability By Session and Format

Legislature Format Location
73rd (1993) forward Electronic Texas Legislature Online. Paper copies of bills from the current legislative session are also available from the bill distribution offices (House 512-463-1144, Senate 512-463-0252).
30th (19047) – 80th (2007) Electronic Legislative Archive System
1st (1846) - present Print Legislative Reference Library. Appointment required.

Certified bill files are available by request. Please contact the library at (512) 463-1252 for more information.

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Bill Analyses

There are several types of bill analyses produced during the legislative process. Each one is produced at a certain point in time by a specific legislative entity. Copies of most bill analyses are available in the library's Legislative Archive System as well as other locations.

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Audio Recordings of Legislative Discussion

In the 63rd Legislature session (1973), the Legislature began audio taping public hearings held by committees and the floor debates in the House and the Senate. Audio tapes are often the best source of information on legislative intent. Because transcripts of committee meetings are seldom produced, listening to audio tapes is often necessary. Transcripts are rare, but if available, they will be housed with the tapes in the media offices.

In order to listen to or order these tapes, you will need the following from the bill history:

Formal meetings are not routinely recorded, but you may contact House and Senate Media to determine if a recording of a formal meeting exists.

Format and availability

Recordings are available in tape or digital format depending on the legislative session. For some sessions, recordings are available in both tape and digital formats.

Session Chamber Format Notes
77th Legislature (2001) to present House Online -
63rd Legislature (1973) to present House Audio tape Requests must be in writing. Ordering information
63rd Legislature (1973) to 68th Legislature (1983) House Online Texas State Library and Archives Commission Texas Digital Archive.
76th Legislature (from March 1999) to present Senate Online -
79th Legislature (2005) - present Senate Audio tape or CD Ordering information
62nd Legislature, 4th Called Session (Sep. 18 - Oct. 17, 1972) to 79th Legislature, 3rd Called Session (Apr. 17 - May 16, 2006) Senate Online The original tapes are housed at the Legislative Reference Library. Due to preservation concerns for the original cassette tapes, patrons are no longer able to listen to the original tapes. Digitized copies of the Senate recordings are available from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

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House and Senate Journals

The House and Senate Journals are the official proceedings of the House of Representatives and Senate. To use the Journals, look up your bill number in the bill history index in the last volume of the journals for a particular session. Here you will find the actions on your bill and page numbers on which they occurred. If the bill was considered in both chambers, you will need to review bill history in both the House and Senate Journals.

In general, House and Senate Journals do not contain printed debate on bills. Audio tapes are often the best resource for ascertaining the actual legislative discussion, but Journals may contain items of interest to researchers such as statements of legislative intent.

House and Senate Journals for the 76th (1999) through the present are available on Texas Legislature Online. Scanned journals from earlier sessions are available on the library's website.

Statements of Legislative Intent

On rare occasions, statements of legislative intent will be recorded into the House and the Senate Journals. Individuals who are compiling legislative intent should always check the House and Senate Journals rather than relying on a bill's actions to signal such a statement. In recent sessions, care has been taken to include references to statements of legislative intent in the list of actions on a bill, or bill history. Prior to the 75th Legislature, however, statements of intent were inconsistently reflected in the actions.

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House & Senate Committee Minutes

Minutes are the summary of committee proceedings; Committee minutes from the 63rd Legislature (1973) to the present can be found on the library website using the Committee search. Minutes from the 74th Legislature (1995) to the present are on Texas Legislature Online.

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Statutory Revision and Revisor's Reports

If a bill's caption shows that it was a "nonsubstantive" revision, correction, or addition, this indicates the bill was part of the Texas Legislative Council's Statutory Revision Program. The Council is required by Texas Government Code, Section 323.007 to carry out a complete nonsubstantive revision of the Texas Statutes but "may not alter the sense, meaning, or effect of the statute" (Texas Government Code, Section 323.007). If you are researching a nonsubstantive revision, there may be brief bill analyses available through the Legislative Reference Library, but you may need to review the statute's Prior Laws and research an earlier bill. For further information, see Section 8.09, Continuing Statutory Revision Program, in the Texas Legislative Council Drafting Manual.

You can find the revisor's reports and related legislation by Texas Legislative Council on our Texas Law Time Line. The reports contain the Source Law, Revised Law, and may contain a Revisor's Note describing the change.

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Session Summaries

Summaries are publications by various legislative offices providing previews and overviews of a particular session, including Summary of Enactments by the Texas Legislative Council, Issues and Highlights of the __ Texas Legislature by the Senate Research Center, and Topics and Major Issues of the ___ Legislature by the House Research Organization. Summaries available here

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Constitutional Amendments

Constitutional Amendments are changes to the Texas state constitution, proposed by the legislature in the form of a joint resolution and submitted to voters for approval. You can search for amendments (both approved and defeated by voters), view reports analyzing proposed amendments, and see a list of constitutional amendment election dates.

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Newspaper Clippings

The Legislative Reference Library's newspaper clipping service, which includes articles of interest from thirty state and national newspapers, is another source of background material and historical perspective. Past clips, dating back to the 1920s, may be searched on terminals in the Library. In addition, you may search newspaper clippings by bill number for bills in the 74th Legislature (1995) forward.

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