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Finding California Legislative History

A guide and checklist for finding California Legislative materials of use to legal researchers.

Find and Review the Bill History

The bill "history" is actually just a chronology of actions taken on the bill.

Critical information from the "history" includes: (1) bill authors and sponsors; (2) dates of amendments; and (3) reviewing committees. Information about committees helps you find published or unpublished reports or hearings. Knowing authors' and sponsors' names lets you request from them any unpublished information on file.

Bill histories are listed by bill number and are printed in each session's Senate (or Assembly) Final History (or, before 1964, in the Final Calendar of Legislative Business).

Print Sources

Senate (or Assembly) Final History, KFC 14 .C31 Law Stacks,1973 to present.
(Publication of these Final Histories is slow. Check the California Legislative Portal (below) for the most recent 5 or so years.)

Final Calendar of Legislative Business, 1921-1964. KFC 14 .C3 Law Stacks.
[The Final Calendar from 1867- is available at the San Francisco Public Library Government Information Center. The Final Calendar from 1919–1943and from 1947–1964 is available at Hastings Law Library.]

Online Sources

Bill histories for recent years are also available online via these sources:

Read All Versions of the Bill

This is the single most important step in researching California legislative history and intent!

Often the only clues to intent are in (1) the occasional explicit statement of intent, (2) whatever you can infer from the language of the bill — the various amendments, additions, and deletions made to the bill as it went through the legislative process, or (3) theLegislative Counsel's Digest, which precedes the text of the bill.

The Legislative Counsel's Digest accompanies each version of every bill and compares current law to the proposed bill. It may also be found in the Summary Digest.

Print & Microfiche Sources

  • Current bills: in the Reserve Book Room. Ask at the Circulation/Reserve desk.

  • Bills from previous sessions: microfiche, Fiche Cabinet 8, Drawers 4 to 7 (1967–2004).

  • Bills prior to 1967:

    • San Francisco Public Library Government Information Center (1867– )
    • U.C. Berkeley Law Library (1913– with some gaps, call number: KFC 5)

Online Sources

Full-text bills for recent years are also available online via these sources:

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