302 Texas Legislative History

302 Texas Legislative History

Locating the Bill Number of the Enacting Legislation

The first step in compiling a legislative history is locating the bill number and session of the legislation. Assuming the bill was enacted and is now part of the Civil Statutes and Codes, you can find the bill number in the following way:

  1. Locate the desired section or article of the statute in Vernon's Texas Civil Statutes or Vernon's Texas Codes Annotated. Following the statute will be a Historical Notes section. The Historical Notes provide the chapter number and session of the law or laws which became this section of the code. If the section of the statutes was amended one or more times, you must determine whether you need legislative history for all the enacting laws or just one particular law. Be sure to check both the main volume and the pocket part to get the complete list of session law citations for your statute.
  2. Using the information found above, locate the act(s) by chapter and legislative session in the Texas session laws, General and Special Laws of the State of Texas. (In Underwood Law Library the Texas session laws are directly behind Vernon's.) The bill number will appear immediately below the chapter number of the act.

Bill Files

Most of the relevant documents for determining legislative intent can be found in the session law's "Bill Files." A bill file for a particular bill may contain some or all of the following documents:

  • Introduced version of the bill
  • House committee report with bill analysis
  • Engrossed version of the bill
  • Senate committee report
  • Senate amendments
  • Conference committee report with side-by-side bill analysis
  • Enrolled version of the bill
  • Fiscal notes

Bill files may be obtained, depending on the legislative session in which the bill was proposed, in the following formats and places:

  • 1st Legislature (1846) to 62nd Legislature (1971): You may view the bill file at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.   In requesting a bill file, the researcher must specify the bill number and legislative session. The State Archives has a small number of legislative committee files, ranging from 1863 to the present. Most of the files date from the 1950's.

Texas Legislature Online

From the 74th Legislature (1995) on, Texas Legislature Online provides access to the same documents as contained in the Bill Files.   The page for searching bill information is at http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/Search/BillSearch.aspx.   Once you locate the bill, click on "text" to reach the various versions of the bill along with related documents.

Links to the following documents, depending on the bill, may be available from Texas Legislature Online:

  • Bill Text
    The  text of the various versions of the bill are available: as introduced, the House committee version of the bill (contained in the House Committee Report), the Senate committee’s version (contained in the Senate Committee Report), along with the Engrossed Version (the version of the bill as passed by either the House or the Senate), and the Enrolled Version (the version of the bill as passed by both Houses and sent to the Governor for his or her signature).
  • Committee Reports & Other Documents

    To find committee reports and other documents on Texas Legislature Online, retrieve the bill in question.  Then click on "Text" (at the upper left-hand corner of the screen) which will retrieve a list of the documents associated with the bill.  

  • Senate Research Center Bill Analyses at   http://www.senate.state.tx.us/SRC/Index.htm :

    Beginning with the 73rd Legislature (1993), the Senate Research Center (SRC) began preparing a bill analysis on every version of every senate bill, as well as the engrossed version of house bills, and on every enrolled bill.   The bill analyses from 1995 on are available at http://www.senate.state.tx.us/SRC/BA.htm and at Texas Legislature Online.

    Other sources for the Senate Bill analyses:  Legislative Reference Library  (analyses for enrolled bills only) and  the Senate Research Center,  Sam Houston Building, Room 575, 201 E. 14th St., Austin, Texas 78701; P.O. Box 12068, Austin, Texas 78711 (512) 463-0087.

Other Sources for Determining Legislative Intent

  • House Research Organization  http://www.hro.house.state.tx.us/

    Beginning with the 64th Legislature (1975), the House Research Organization (HRO) began preparing Daily Floor Reports, which include bill analyses for most bills.  The bill analysis appears in theDaily Floor Reports when the bill has reached its second reading in the HouseHouse Research Organization's web site provides the  bill analyses  from the 74th Legislature (1995) on.  The Daily Floor Reports, which include the bill analysesare also available starting with the 76th Legislature (1999).

    To locate a bill analysis in the paper version of the Daily Floor Reports, you must either already know the date of the bill’s second reading in the House.  If you do not already know the date, you can find it using the Index to the Daily Floor Reports or by checking the House and Senate Journals. In Journals, look up the bill number in the index in the last volume of the journals for the session in which the bill was enacted. The House and Senate Journals are available at Underwood Law Library in the Central Basement. They are also available at the Dallas Public Library.

    The HRO analyses are available at Underwood Law Library, Central Basement from the 72nd Legislature (1991) on. The Index needed to find the date of a bill’s second reading is in the last volume of each session. 

  • Tape recordings of hearings and floor debates

    Beginning with the 63rd session (1973), the Legislature taped its public committee hearings and floor debate in the House and the Senate. If transcripts are available (which is very unlikely), they will be housed with the tapes in the media offices of the Legislative Reference Library.

    Live and archived broadcasts of House floor debates and committee meetings from 2001 are available at http://www.house.state.tx.us/media/welcome.php .Video and audio recordings from the Senate floor and public hearings from 1999 are available athttp://www.senate.state.tx.us/75r/Senate/AVarch.htm .  The Senate broadcasts live debates and hearings at http://www.senate.state.tx.us/bin/live.php.
    For earlier years in the House and Senate, tapes are available from the media offices of the Legislative Reference Library.   Prior to contacting the library to listen to the tapes, you will need to find out the bill history, the names of the committees to which the bill was referred, the dates of public hearings, and the dates that the bill had its second and third readings in both the House and the Senate. This information can be found in different places depending on the Legislature.  
  • 1st Legislature (1846) to 74th Legislature (1995): House and Senate Journals. Look up your bill number in the index in the last volume of the journals for the session in which the bill was enacted. These journals are available at Underwood Law Library in the Central Basement. They are also available at the Dallas Public Library, the Texas Legislative Reference Library, and the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

When you have the above information, you may go to the following locations to listen to tapes, or you may order copies of the tapes from one of the below sources:

Senate Tapes, 1973 to 1991
Texas State Library Reference, Room 300
Lorenzo De Zavala Library & Archives Bldg.
1201 Brazos St.
Austin, Texas 78701
Phone:               (512) 463-5455         (512) 463-5455
E-mail: reference.desk@tsl.state.tx.us.

Senate Tapes, 1993 to present
Sam Houston Bldg., Room 925
201 East 14th St.
Austin, Texas 78701
              (512) 463-0430         (512) 463-0430

House Tapes, 63rd Legislature (1973) to present
John H. Reagan Building, Room 330
105 West 15th Street
Austin, Texas 78701
              (512) 463-0920         (512) 463-0920
(512) 463-5729 Fax
*Requests must be in writing and paid in advance.

Audio/Visual tapes of House floor debates (1999 onwards) and committee meetings (2001 onwards) are available at http://www.house.state.tx.us/media/welcome.php.

  • House and Senate Journals

  • The House and Senate Journals do not contain a verbatim record of the proceedings on the floor of either chamber, although they are the official record of actions taken in either chamber.  To use the journals, find the bill number in the index in the last volume of the set for the appropriate session.  The Journals are available in Underwood Law Library.   They are also available online from 76th legislature (1999) on from Texas Legislature Online.
  • Legislative Interim Reports

    Reports of studies by standing or special legislative committees in the 'interim' (the time period between sessions) can often be helpful resources for discussion and background prior to a bill's passage, or discussion and monitoring of a bill's implementation after it is passed. Interim reports are listed in the Legislative Reference Library's on-line catalog by subject, title, chair, and call number.  The LRL also provides internet access to full-text electronic versions of interim reports beginning with the 67th session under Interim committees. Online interim committee reports are searchable by session, subject, and keyword.”   Legislative Reference Library of Texas, Researching Legislative History and Intent, at http://www.lrl.state.tx.us/legis/intent/intentStep5.html .

  • Publications from State Agencies and Commissions

    The Legislature may direct a state agency or commission to research a particular problem. Since these studies often result in legislation, the report and recommendations of the agency or commission may provide insight into legislative intent. These publications are listed in the Legislative Reference Library's on-line catalog by name of the agency or commission, title, and subject. Some publications are also listed by the legislative session and bill number.”  Legislative Reference Library of Texas, Researching Legislative History and Intent, at http://www.lrl.state.tx.us/legis/intent/intentStep5.html.   A list of state agencies can be found on the TRAIL (Texas Records and Information Locator) website at http://www.tsl.state.tx.us/trail/ .  TRAIL claims to search for information on over 180 Texas state agency web servers.
  • Texas Legislative Council at http://www.tlc.state.tx.us/

    Functions performed by the TLC for the Senate and House of Representatives include drafting bills and other legislative documents and conducting legal and public policy research.  The agency also serves as an information resource for state agencies and the citizens of Texas.

Legislative Reference Library
Physical address
Texas State Capitol Building
1100 Congress Avenue, Room 2N.3
Austin, TX 78701

Mailing address:
P.O. Box 12488
Austin, TX 78711-2488

Phone:               (512) 463-1252      
Fax: (512) 475-4626

Senate Research Center: http://www.senate.state.tx.us/SRC/Index.htm
Sam Houston Building, Room 575
P.O. Box 12068
201 E. 14th St., Austin, TX 78711
              (512) 463-0087      

For more on researching legislative intent, see

Texas State Library and Archives Commission
1201 Brazos
P.O. Box 12927
Austin, TX 78711-2927
Reference Desk:               (512) 463-5455      
E-mail: reference.desk@tsl.state.tx.us.

Dallas Public Library:
Govt. Publications Division
1515 Young Street
Dallas, TX 75201
              (214) 670-1468       

Texas Legislative Council: http://www.tlc.state.tx.us/
P.O. Box 12128, Capitol Station
Austin, TX 78711-2128