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A step-by-step guide to finding legislative history information for California laws at the Harnish Law Library.
Last Updated: Nov 12, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Researching California legislative history and intent is often a slow and frustrating process, and one that may not yield satisfactory results. Many of the documents that you might normally find in the course of a federal legislative history are not available at the state level. For example, there are few committee hearings on bills and no transcripts of debates. There are, however, some sources that can provide clues to the legislative history or intent of a California statute.

This guide is intended to help you find those sources that may be available at the Harnish Law Library. Other libraries may have better resources that are not included in this guide. See the Useful Resources tab for suggestions.

NOTE: Westlaw and Lexis are for Pepperdine Law users only.


The Steps to Take

Follow these steps to tackle a California legislative history at the Harnish Law Library. These steps correspond to the tabs above.

Step 1: Locate your code section in the annotated code.


Step 2: Locate the California legislative bill.


Step 3: Check for Bill Histories and Analyses.


Step 4: Check the Assembly or Senate Journals.


Step 5: Look for hearings or reports associated with your legislation.


Step 6: Check other possible sources for evidence of legislative intent.


Helpful Books

Henke's California Law Guide - Daniel W. Martin
Call Number: KFC74 .M37
Chapter 4, "Legislative Intent," explains in detail the legislative process and the records generated (or not), the various agencies and organizations related to the process, and research sources and techniques.

Legal Research in California - John K. Hanft
Call Number: KFC74 .H36 2011
Publication Date: 2011-01-01
This book is designed to provide practitioners with quick answers to common questions about legal research and law practice in California. Print, CD, online, and Internet resources are discussed. Includes a CA legislative history illustration.


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