Compiling PA Legislative Histories
This guide should be used as a basic instruction on how to compile a Pennsylvania legislative history. Compiling a Pennsylvania legislative history is something many attorneys practicing in Pennsylvania may have to do at some point in their legal career. For the most part, preparing a legislative history is a very straight-forward procedure. Knowing some basic facts, along with easy-to-follow instructions, should help attorneys in their pursuit of legislative materials.
Librarians at Jenkins compile Pennsylvania legislative histories upon request. The histories we have already compiled are available to our members on our Pennsylvania Legislative Histories database.
For help using this Guide or for additional assistance compiling Pennsylvania legislative histories, contact Research Services at 215.574.1505 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Legislative history - "the proceedings leading to the enactment of a statute, including hearings, committee reports, and floor debates." Legislative History, Black's Law Dictionary (11th ed. 2019). Such history is important to courts when they are required to determine the legislative intent of a particular statute.
Bill - "a legislative proposal offered for debate before its enactment." Bill, Black's Law Dictionary (11th ed. 2019).
Act - "the formal product of a legislature or other deliberative body exercising its powers." Act, Black's Law Dictionary (11th ed. 2019). An act is the appropriate term for the bill after it has been enacted by legislature into law.
Debates, Remarks, Comments
When compiling a Pennsylvania Legislative History, Jenkins includes only the debates and remarks on a particular bill, which are published in the Legislative Journals for the House and the Senate. Comments may also be found in the Appendix volumes (not published for every Assembly).
Jenkins does not receive the Committee Reports for the Pennsylvania House or Senate Bills. If you are looking for Committee Reports, you may have to consult the following sources:
- Senate Library: 717.787.6120
- House of Representatives Archives: 717.783.3866 (For more information on the House Archives collection, see their Committee Records page.)
- Pennsylvania General Assembly: House Committee Transcripts and Reports (coverage varies by committee)
- For current reports, contact the Senate or House committee directly.
These reports may be accessed by date reported, sponsor, committee, and/or subject.
Pre-1970 reports may be available at the Pennsylvania State Archives. Select additional years may also be available. Their General Assembly Collection includes documents from both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Researchers will have to visit the State Archives to complete this research. Contact the State Archives for more information.
Please note that committees do not always submit reports. Submitted committee reports may not be very substantive and are often limited in scope.
Jenkins does not receive the Committee Hearings for the Pennsylvania House or Senate Bills. If you are looking for Committee Hearings, you may have to consult the following sources:
These hearings may be accessed by date, sponsor, committee, and/or subject. Committee hearings are usually held on legislation that is controversial or significant.
Please note, many proposals for legislation do not involve any hearings.
In Pennsylvania, hearings are open to the public, and newspapers often publish accounts of these hearings. It may benefit you to do a newspaper search for additional information. For newspaper searching, Jenkins' members have access to NewsBank.
Joint State Government Commission Reports:
Jenkins does not receive the reports produced by the Joint State Government Commission (JSGC). The JSGC is a non-partisan research organization that serves the Pennsylvania legislature. Select reports related to legislation may be available on their website (http://jsg.legis.state.pa.us/publications.cfm). For additional reports contact the JSGC at 717.787.4397.
Additional materials may be available from the Pennsylvania State Archives. Their General Assembly Collection includes documents from both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Researchers will have to visit the State Archives to complete this research. Contact the State Archives for more information.