Research guides

Pennsylvania Legislative History

Helpful Tips

Online vs Print

While the Pennsylvania General Assembly website is a helpful resource to finding legislative information online, it may not cover the years you need. Also, not everything available via the Pennsylvania General Assembly website is linked on the act's history entry page. So while you may start your research online, be aware that you may also need to consult a print source.

See the Key Resources page of this guide for a list of resources needed to complete a Pennsylvania legislative history. The years covered by each source are also included.

Pre-1970 Legislative Histories

When looking at the pre-1970 history entry pages in the History of House Bills or History of Senate Bills or the index pages to the House Legislative Journal or Senate Legislative Journal, it is best to check each individual entry for remarks or debate in the appropriate journal(s).

See the Key Resources page of this guide for where to find the History and Journal volumes.

Subject Index for Older Acts

Sometimes it is challenging to find the relevant entry in the subject index for older acts. Try looking at the act summary found at the beginning of each act in the Laws of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Terms can also be found in the margins next to the text of the act. Key terms from the summary and margins were often used in the Journal indexes.

For where to find the Laws of the General Assembly, see the Pennsylvania Session Laws guide.

P.L. Numbers

In Pennsylvania, P.L. stands for Pamphlet Law, and it refers to the page the act starts in the Laws of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

If an act's legislative source lists a P.L. number but not an act number, consult the Laws of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to determine the act number. The act number is commonly listed at the beginning of the act.

For where to find the Laws of the General Assembly, see the Pennsylvania Session Laws guide.