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Starting with what you know

Before you begin > Legislative history vs. legislative intent > Typical materials > Starting with what you know > Other helpful resources

Sometimes you may not have all the information you need for your legislative history research. This section will guide you on using the information you do have to find more information.

Year or legislative session

You can view bills from a particular date range by performing an Advanced Search by session/year or range of sessions/years, and add authors, captions, or subjects to narrow your search.

For major legislation, Session Summaries include reports summarizing and analyzing legislation passed each session back to 1953.

Subject

If you know the bill's subject matter, you can perform a subject search on Texas Legislature Online to determine the bill or resolution number for the 74th Legislature (1995) to present, or perform an Advanced Search in the LRL Legislative Archive System by caption or subject for selected sessions.

You can search Texas statutes by keyword. The online statutes do not contain the full prior legislative history and you will need to contact the library for the "prior laws." Look up the subject of the law that you want to research in the Vernon's Texas Statutes and Codes Annotated General Index. There you will find a citation to the statutes and/or codes. Indexes and statutes are available at the Legislative Reference Library.

Bill number and legislative session

If you know the bill number and the legislative session in which it was introduced, you can examine the bill file in the Legislative Reference Library's Legislative Archive System. The bill file is the collection of official documents produced during the bill's movement through the legislative process, and may contain:

  • Introduced version
  • House committee report with vote sheet and bill analysis
  • Engrossed version
  • Senate committee report with vote sheet
  • Senate amendments printing
  • Conference committee report with side-by-side analysis
  • Enrolled version
  • Fiscal notes
  • Senate Research Center bill analyses
Transcripts of committee hearings or floor debates are not included in these files.

Bill File Availability By Session and Format

Legislature Format Location
71st (1989) forward Electronic Texas Legislature Online. Paper copies of bills from the current legislative session are also available from the bill distribution offices (House 512-463-1144, Senate 512-463-0252).
18th (1884) – 83rd (2013) Electronic Legislative Archive System
63rd (1973) - present Print Legislative Reference Library. Appointment required.
63rd (1973) - 70th (1987) Microfilm Legislative Reference Library, Dallas Public Library, or Houston Public Library (see other locations).
1st (1846) - 62nd (1971) Print Texas State Archives (512-463-5480)

Statute

Locate the desired statutory section or article in Vernon's Texas Civil Statutes or Vernon's Texas Codes Annotated. Note the legislative history annotations immediately following the statutory text. These annotations, called Historical Notes, Historical and Statutory Notes, Derivation, or Prior Laws, direct you to the pieces of legislation that enacted and amended the current statute. Be sure to check both the main volume and the pocket part to get the complete list of session law citations for your statute. Please note: the full Prior Laws and Derivation portion of the legislative history annotations are not available on Texas Legislature Online's Texas Statutes web site. The West Publishing edition of Vernon's is the only source for the full statutory history.

Example:
Texas Tax Code § 311.004.
Added by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 191, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.
Amended by Acts 1989, 71st Leg., ch. 1137, § 17, eff. Sept. 1, 1989.

To determine which bill added the language in question, it may be necessary to look at several Acts in the session laws (General and Special Laws of Texas). If the statutory section has been amended several times, begin by looking at the latest amendment. Work backward through each amendment listed in the legislative history note. Stop when you locate the Act in which the language first appeared.

Session law chapter

The official name for the session laws is the General and Special Laws of Texas. The session laws contain the full text of the enrolled (final) version of all bills passed by each Legislature. The bills are called Acts and are numbered by chapters.

You can determine the bill number from a chapter number using the Legislative Archive System, Search by Session Law Chapter number. This will link you to the bill file.

Next: Other helpful resources