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Researching Colorado Legislative History. SWALL Annual Meeting Legislation History Research April 7, 2006. Alan Pannell Reference Librarian University of Colorado Law Library. State Legislative History. Limitations of researching state legislative history

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researching colorado legislative history

Researching Colorado Legislative History

SWALL Annual Meeting

Legislation History Research

April 7, 2006

Alan Pannell

Reference Librarian

University of Colorado Law Library

state legislative history
State Legislative History

Limitations of researching state legislative history

  • No compiled legislative histories
  • No print or electronic access to committee reports or debate transcripts
  • Procedural research (e.g., tracking bill status) increasingly easier to do online
  • Legislative intent is usually the most critical to researchers, but remains difficult to discover (especially for older laws)
research strategies
Research Strategies

Detective Work

  • State statutes passed in recent years may include a brief statement of purpose in their first section
  • Routine legislative actions taken on a bill may hold clues to what the lawmakers intended.
  • Legislative intent may sometimes be found in the documents of related bills that were incorporated into the enacted statute.
  • May be necessary to understand the state’s legislation process and the political climate of the year
    • How A Bill Becomes Colorado Law [Chart]

legislative audio tapes
Legislative Audio Tapes

Colorado State Archives

  • 1973-Present
  • Legislative committee hearings and floor debates are tape recorded and made available to the public (by appointment).
  • May to need to determine bill number(s), year enacted, committee assignments, location of meeting, and time of discussion to locate appropriate tape.
  • Because of technical difficulties and the deterioration of the tapes over the years, some of the sessions were not recorded or are inaudible.
  • Specific statutory sections may not be referred to in legislative hearings.
research assistance
Research Assistance

Legislative History Compilation

  • Research service will track down legislative components of a particular statute
  • Includes committee hearings, committee prints, house and senate floor debates, and previous versions of a bill.
  • Will send someone to the Colorado State Archives to listen and record audio recordings of committee hearings and legislative floor debates.

Access Information

legislative resources online
Legislative Resources Online

Colorado General Assembly

  • CO Revised Statutes
  • Session Laws
  • Bill Digest
  • House/Senate Bills, Calendars, Journals, Resolutions, Fiscal Notes
  • Ballot Issues/Initiatives
  • Legislative Rules
  • Prior Session Information Current Regular Session Information
  • Audio Broadcasts of Current Proceedings
  • Legislative Directory
  • Legislator Home Pages
statutory research
Statutory Research

Colorado Revised Statutes

  • Free LexisNexis search interface
  • Includes brief annotations
  • Legislative Drafting Manual

statutory construction
Statutory Construction

CRS 2-4-101. Common and technical usage

  • Plain language and meaning

CRS 2-4-201. Intentions in the enactment of statutes

  • Presumes constitutional compliance, just and reasonable result, feasibility, public interest, and harmony with other statutes.
  • Statute must be construed to further the legislative intent evidenced by the entire statutory scheme.
  • Two statutes concerning same subject matter should be read together.
  • Title of a statute, though not dispositive of legislative intent, may be used as an aid in construing a statute.

CRS 2-4-203. Ambiguous statutes - aids in construction

bill tracking
Bill Tracking

Colorado Session Laws

  • 1993-Present
  • Allows tracking of language changes over time
  • May contain brief statement of bill’s purpose
  • Consider contacting the bill sponsor regarding intent

Digest of Bills

  • 1994 – 2005 (including extraordinary sessions)
  • Summarizes major provisions of each bill passed or amended during previous session
  • Arranged by subject index
other resources
Other Resources

Office of Legislative Legal Services

  • Maintains complete legislative records on bills, resolutions, and memorials, along with law summaries.

Colorado Legislative Council

  • Research publications include issue briefs (1997-2006)


  • Denver Post
  • Rocky Mountain News

LexisNexis and Westlaw

  • LexisNexis: COALS
  • Westlaw: CO-LEGIS
co legislative history guides
CO Legislative History Guides

Colorado Legislative History (University of Denver College of Law Library)

Finding Colorado Legislative History (University of Colorado Law School Library)

Legislative Records (Colorado State Archives)

Researching Colorado Statutes (University of Colorado at Colorado Springs)

Researching Legislative History (Office of Legislative Legal Services)

Uncovering Colorado Legislative Law-making and Legislative Intent (U Penn Law Library)

Uncovering Legislative History in Colorado (Colorado Association of Law Libraries - COALL)

contact info
Contact Info

Alan K. Pannell

Reference Librarian

University of Colorado Law Library

Campus Box 402

Boulder, CO 80309

Phone: (303) 735-1867

Fax: (303) 492-2707


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