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1. Legislative History:Federal and Washington Bridge the Legal Research Gap 2006
University of Washington Law Library
2. What is Legislative History? The progress of a bill through the legislative process
The documents created during that process
versions of bills and amendments, committee reports, debates, and hearings
3. Why does it matter? Courts look to legislative history (LH) to interpret unclear statutory language & determine intent of Congress
Stephen Breyer, On the Uses of Legislative History in Interpreting Statutes, 65 S. Cal. L. Rev. 845 (1992).
Reasonable uses of LH
avoid an absurd result
correct a drafting error
recognize specialized meanings of words (e.g., standing)
identify reasonable purpose of phrase
choose among reasonable interpretations on politically controversial issue
Argue against use of LH
Plain meaning rule (look to the language of the statute)
4. Washington Court of Appeals uses Legislative History ?When a statute is ambiguous, we apply principles of statutory construction, legislative history, and relevant case law, giving effect to the Legislature's intent.?
State v. Manro, 125 Wash.App. 165, 173 (2005)
West Digest Topic [Statutes] & Key Number [217.2]:
361k217.2 k. Legislative History of Act.
5. U.S. Supreme Court looks to Legislative History ?As for the propriety of using legislative history at all, common sense suggests that inquiry benefits from reviewing additional information rather than ignoring it. . . Our precedents demonstrate that the Court's practice of utilizing legislative history reaches well into its past. See, e.g., Wallace v. Parker, 6 Pet. 680, 687-690, 8 L.Ed. 543 (1832). We suspect that the practice will likewise reach well into the future.?
Wisconsin Public Intervenor v. Mortier, 501 U.S. 597, 610 (1991)
6. Questions Answered in Legislative History Who sponsored this legislation and why? What did he or she say about it during debates?
How did the language of the law change in various versions of the bill?
What did the Committee recommend in their Report?
7. Most important legislative history materials, in order: Committee Reports (contain analysis & recommendations)
Bills (including different versions & amendments)
Sponsor remarks made on House or Senate floor (debates)
Committee hearings (public hearings held by committees considering bills)
8. Federal Legislative History Research Guide http://lib.law.washington.edu/ref/fedlegishist.html
CIS Index / LexisNexis Congressional
USCCAN (United States Code Congressional and Administrative News)
10. Step 1:Look for Compiled Legislative History Sources of Compiled Legislative Histories: A Bibliography of Government Documents, Periodical Articles, and Books, 1st Congress-105th Congress (by Nancy P. Johnson)
Hein Online database contains a Legislative History Library with 15 compiled legislative histories.
USA Patriot Act
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 Search Library Catalogs
USA PATRIOT Act: A Legislative History
Federal Estate, Gift, And Generation-Skipping Taxes: A Legislative History
13. Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, Pub.L. No. 104-132
14. Thomas http://thomas.loc.gov/ Free website
Reliable (Library of Congress)
Contains: public laws, committee reports, bills, debates, hearings
Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 (108th Congress)
19. Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 on THOMAS
20. Step 3: Locate the Documents Committee Reports & Public Laws:
United States Code Congressional and Administrative News (USCCAN), 1941-date.
Print OR Westlaw (USCCAN)
Westlaw ? Graphical Statutes
CIS Legislative Histories online (LexisNexis Congressional or Lexis)
21. Sample Documents Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003
Pub.L. No. 108-105 (Public Law)
H. REP. NO. 108-288 (House Report)
27. Step 3: Locate the Documents: Committee Hearings GPO Access
covers 1997-date, selective.
only online source of official published hearings (other sources are testimony transcripts only).
Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003.
29. Step 4:Analyzing the Documents Norman J. Singer, Statutes and Statutory Construction (6th ed.).
[also known as Sutherland on Statutory Construction]
Ronald Benton Brown et al., Statutory Interpretation: The Search for Legislative Intent (2002).
30. Washington State Legislative History Research
31. Basics of WA Legislative History Research In 1897, WA Supreme Court looked at sequential drafts of a bill to determine legislative intent.
Howlett v. Cheetham, 17 Wash. 626 (1897).
32. Basics of WA Legislative History Research Materials (mid 1970s-current)
in print at law libraries
WA Legislature?s website, TVW website, Westlaw & LexisNexis.
Types of Materials?
Bill Files, Committee Reports, versions of bills, House & Senate Journals (audiotapes of debates), Committee Meetings (audiotapes)
WA State Archives -- request copies of ?Bill File?
House & Senate Journal Clerks ? audiotape of Debates
33. Washington Legislative History Research Guide http://lib.law.washington.edu/ref/washleghis.html
35. Step 1: Start with RCW section RCW ? 9.91.170Interfering with dog guide or service animal.
Statutory history in parenthetical
[2003 c 53 ? 52; 2001 c 112 ? 2.]
WA Legislature?s RCW page
37. Step 1: RCW 9.91.170
38. Step 2: Look at Session Law to Get Bill Number WA Legislature?s Bill Information page, http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/
bills & amendments, session laws, committee reports (1997 ? current)
How to find Bill Number?
Chapter to Bill Table, RCW to Bill Table, Topical Index
Example: Use ?Session Law to Bill Table?
(2001, c.112 ? 2) ? Senate Bill 5942: Increasing penalties for crimes against dog guides and service animals
41. Step 2: Bill Information Page
42. Step 3:Documents Available Online(1997-current) House and Senate Committee Reports
Final Legislative Report (Final Bill Report)
(in print: 1979-current)
Bills & Amendments
Legislative Digest and History of Bills (chronology & reporting committee)
(in print: 1970-current)
Roll Call Votes
43. Step 4:WA House & Senate Journals In print at law libraries (1889-current)
online at Legislature?s website (2005-current).
dates of floor action
?point of inquiry? or ?debate ensued? (debate about a bill)*
*Debates are not printed in Journal; they are available on audiotape from House or Senate Journal clerks (not transcribed).
44. WA Senate Journal Example Journal of the Senate (March 12, 2001)
POINT of INQUIRY
[concerning Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill No. 5372]
Senator Brown: ?Senator Prentice, is it the intent of this legislation to provide only for agreements with twelve tribes that own and operate smoke shops and not provide a precedent for other tribes which have different circumstances such as independent smoke shops that are licensed by the tribal government, such as Puyallup??
Senator Prentice: ?Yes, this bill represents terms and conditions agreed to by only the tribes listed in the bill. The state recognizes that agreements with other tribes may involve alternative rates and conditions.?
45. Step 6:Contact WA State Archives Committee Bill Files
Committee Meeting audiotapes
Mid-1970s forward (not transcribed).
Research Section of the WA State Archives in Olympia
(360-586-1492) Research@secstate.wa.gov http://www.secstate.wa.gov/archives/leg_history.aspx
They copy and send bill files for reasonable fee.
Open to the public.
Governor's files on specific bills
(1951-1955 & 1965-1984)
Legislative Council records (1947-1973) and personal papers of some legislators (files are incomplete).
46. Step 7:TVW WA?s Public Affairs Network http://www.tvw.org/media/archives.cfm
WA House and Senate Committee Hearings and Floor Debates
audio and video
1996/97 to current
47. REMEMBER: Federal LH Research Guide http://lib.law.washington.edu/ref/fedlegishist.html
USCCAN (WL Graphical Statutes)
CIS (LN Congressional)
Washington LH Research Guide http://lib.law.washington.edu/ref/washleghis.html
State Archives & TV W