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Finding California Legislative History

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

Check the California Codes

Converting the Code Citation to a Citation to the Original Statute

This step helps you find the original statute and its bill number. The citation to the original statute is immediately after the text of the annotated code section and will look something like: Stats 1982 ch 839

There may be more than one such citation for any given statute. If your interest is in the statute as originally enacted then look for the oldest date. If you are concerned with a later amendment then you must determine which dates and chapter numbers correspond to that amendment.

Annotated Codes as Sources of Legislative History Information

The annotations may cite to cases and law review articles that in turn refer to legislative history materials, and (especially for more recently-enacted legislation) may also cite to committee reports, Legislative Counsel opinions, Law Revision Commission reports [Location: KFC 27 .A3 Law Stacks], and Attorney General opinions [Location, 1943 to present: KFC 780 .A55 Law Stacks. Location, 1899 to 1943 (microfilm): microform room, Film Cabinet 2, Drawer 8]. Historical notes may briefly summarize amendments and notes may also refer to other related code sections. Check both Deering's and West; their coverage is not necessarily the same.

Print Sources

Deering's California Codes Annotated, KFC 30.5 .D4 Law Stacks

West's Annotated California Codes, KFC 30.5 .W4 Law Stacks

Online Sources

Online sources include the following:

Read the Original Statute

Use the citation you found in Check the California Code to locate the original statute.

Read this original pre-codification version of the statute to see if there are any variations from the version that appears in the code. Also, check for an "urgency" statement or other language related to intent that may have been excluded from the codified version. Finally, if you're using West's or Deering's legislative services, check to see if there is a "Legislative Counsel’s Digest" (which may contain clues about intent) immediately before the text of the law.

Print Sources

Statutes of California (also known as Statutes and Amendments to the Codes of California) KFC 25 .A231 Law Stacks.
(Also available on microfiche from 1970 to the present. Fiche Cabinet 31, Drawer 5.)

Note: The state takes several years to publish the Statutes of California. The same material for recent years (including useful tables and indexes) is in the following commercial sources:

Deering's Advance Legislative Service KFC 30.5 .D4 Law Stacks. Latest 2-3 years. Shelved immediately following Deering's California Codes Annotated.

West's California Legislative Service, 2009- , KFC 30.5 .W4 Z5 Law Stacks

Online Sources

Pre-codification versions of statutes are available online via these sources:

Convert Chapter Citation Into Bill Number

You'll need a bill number to find further information on the history of the legislation.

To find the bill number, check either (1) the "Table of Laws Enacted," which is located in the first volume for each year of the Statutes of California, or (2) the Summary Digest (KFC 16 .S85 Law Stacks, 1978– ). Note the author of the bill, too, when that information is given.

Print Sources

Statutes of California (also known as Statutes and Amendments to the Codes of California) KFC 25 .A231 Law Stacks.
(Also available on microfiche from 1970 to the present. Fiche Cabinet 31, Drawer 5.)

Note: The state takes several years to publish the Statutes of California. To convert a chapter citation to a bill number for more recent legislation, use Deering's Advance Legislative Service or West's California Legislative Service, below.

Summary Digest, KFC 16 .S85 Law Stacks, (1978–  )
[Beginning in 1967, the Summary Digest is also printed in the last volume of the Statutes of California. The Summary Digest for 1867– is available at the San Francisco Public Library Government Information Center.]

Deering's Advance Legislative Service KFC 30.5 .D4 Law Stacks. Latest 2-3 years. Shelved immediately following Deering's California Codes Annotated.

West's California Legislative Service, 2009- , KFC 30.5 .W4 Z5 Law Stacks

Online Sources

You can also use these online sources to convert chapter citations to bill numbers  for recent legislation.

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