Legislative history vs. legislative intent

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

Legislative history relates to how a bill becomes law, and includes the documents and steps involved in passage. Legislative intent relates to why a bill becomes law, and who proposes ideas or reforms. The primary documents of legislative history can often illustrate legislative intent.

Legislative history Legislative intent
  • Primary documents
    • Bill file
    • Committee reports
    • Bill analyses
    • Bill history
    • Fiscal notes
  • Committee hearings and audio tapes
  • Journals
  • Interim committee reports
  • Who
    • bill author, sponsor in the legislature (a legislator's own words would carry the most weight as to intent)
    • supporters, opposition, witnesses
    • individuals, committees, or organizations that proposed ideas or reforms
  • Why - events, federal involvement
  • News articles, testimony, bill analyses

Next: Typical materials