Skip to main content

California Legislative History Research Guide: Additional Sources

California Cases

You should do a thorough search of California cases to locate any decisions which have relied on legislative history to interpret the code section you are researching. The best ways to find such cases are:

1. Look closely at the annotation in the annotated California Code
2. Shepardize or Keycite the Code section
3. Search for cases on Westlaw or Lexis. Try searching the California cases database for the code section within the same paragraph as "legislative history."

Committee Hearings and Reports

Generally, there are not many published Committee reports and fewer transcribed hearings. Not all committee hearings are transcribed, few reports are prepared, and there is no record of floor debates.

Hearings: California hearings are fact-finding sessions, with witnesses testifying before the committee which schedules the hearings. Because the Legislature has failed to provide for regular distribution of hearing transcripts to libraries, it is usually necessary for interested persons to request the transcripts they need directly from the appropriate committee chairperson.

Reports: Reports are studies made by Legislative Committees, Subcommittees, or Joint Committees; they contain findings, recommendations, and witness testimony. They are usually made at the request of either legislative body by means of a resolution or joint resolution. The Judiciary Committees often evaluate California bills.

You can find a listing of all the committee action (including scheduled hearings) taken on a bill in the Final History or Calendar ( KFC 14 - 5th Floor Stacks). Note the bill’s author, committees, committee action, reports, or hearings. The Hastings Library has the Final History or Calendar for 1915, 1919-43, and 1947-2006. The San Francisco Public Library has the Final History or Calendar from 1867 to current.

In the library's Classic Catalog, choose a subject search and then enter the bill number (e.g. AB908). If you don’t locate any hearings or reports with this search, you can also search by title, subject, and author. Author searches must begin: California. Legislature. Assembly (or Senate) Committee on . . . .

The Appendices to the Senate and Assembly Journals include a few selected hearings and reports reprinted in full: Appendix of the Senate Journal (1946 - 70) ( KFC 5 - 5th Floor Stacks), Appendix of the Assembly Journal (1956 - 70) ( KFC 5 - 5th Floor Stacks).

Other finding aids that identify hearings and reports and indicate if they have been transcribed and/or published are: California Interim Legislative Committees and Reports (1955-69) ( KFC 10 .B8 5th Stacks), Hearings and Reports of Committees of the California Legislature (1961-84 ) ( KFC 16.L4 1963 Reference Desk), List of Reports Prepared by State and Local Agencies, 1994 ( KFC 721 .A15 L57 - 5th Floor Stacks).

Secondary Sources

California Law Revision Commission Reports (1956-2011) [ KFC27 .A3 - 5th Floor Stacks]. Includes recommendations to the legislature and selected Senate and Assembly Reports on particular bills. The California Law Revision Commission maintains a bibliography of all Law Revision publications (as well as information on current topics) on its website.

McGeorge Law Review (1998-2012)  publishes an annual review of California legislation.  It includes tables of bill numbers and chapter numbers with cross references. Earlier reviews appear in Pacific Law Journal [Review of Code Legislation] (1970-1997) and the State Bar of California Journal (1926-1981) [K 23.T35 5th Floor Stacks]. Early issues of the State Bar of California Journal are good places to look for information on older statutes.

Search journal and newspaper articles for discussions about legislation and references to reports and hearings. For example: legal newspapers such as the LA Daily Journal  (available online and in microfilm), local newspapers such as the Sacramento Bee (available online and at SFPL), state government journals such as California Journal (available at Hastings ( K3 .A44 - 5th Floor Stacks) and at SFPL from 1970 through current), and publications of interested organizations such as the Consumer Attorneys of California.

Sacramento Sources

Call Sacramento for Further Unpublished Sources:
The State Archives Legislative Resources ((916) 653-2246) makes available to the public many legislative resource materials. Detailed records are available at the Archives and include: The Governor's Chaptered Bill File, 1943 - 2003; Legislative Committee Records, 1940 - current; Author’s Bill Files, 1950 - date; and Agency Legislative Records, various dates. The State Archives is located in Sacramento and for $0.25 per page, they will photocopy and send all of the information available in their files for a particular bill.

The Chief Clerk of the State Assembly ((916) 319-2856) has all the bill analyses from 1994 to the current session.

The California State Library is the main depository for legislative and executive branch publications distributed to libraries. You can search the California State Library's collections by clicking on the Catalog tab on the Library's homepage.

Pay Someone to Do the Legislative History Search for You:
There are several commercial services that research and compile California Legislative Histories including Legislative Intent Service, Woodland, CA (800) 666-1917; Legislative Research and Intent, Sacramento, CA (800) 530-7613; and Legislative History and Intent, Berkeley, CA (888) 676-1947 & Sacramento, CA (530) 750-2187. These services vary in price and can be quite expensive.

Free Offer for Hastings Law Students and Faculty:
UC Hastings Law faculty and students can get free legislative history documents from the Legislative Research and Intent (LRI) online store.  To get free access to this collection, contact one of the Hastings law librarians to complete the request form.  There are four categories of accepted use for law school students and law school professors: (1) law review articles, (2) pro bono or clinical projects, (3) research papers, and (4) talks and lectures.