Chaptered Law Reports
A little known method for divining legislative purpose is to examine how the statute of interest has evolved over time. What if, for example, opposing counsel is trying to persuade the court to apply terms which the Legislature had previously stricken from the law? A review of the relevant chaptered laws would uncover this development and effectively defeat your opponent’s argument. To gain an understanding of the changes made to a statute over time, it is most useful to “begin at the beginning,” then to compare the changes in chronological sequence. Legislative Research & Intent LLC (LRI) organizes the chaptered laws in chronological order to assist in such a review. Also, while the West’s and Deering’s annotated codes supply the primary citations, LRI is sometimes forced to augment them from other sources.
Chaptered law reports serve another purpose. Besides allowing you to analyze how a statute has evolved over time, you can also identify when specific language of interest first entered a statute. This enables you to dig deeper for pointed legislative history research purposes. Most of the time, LRI can provide this latter service at no cost. However, occasionally the statutory references are extremely lengthy and/or complex, requiring a separate report.
Although paper files are the standard fare for legislative research, the Legislature will sometimes tape committee and floor deliberations. Sporadic videotaping began in the Assembly in 1990 and in the Senate in 1992. Before that, both houses used audio tapes on an equally sporadic basis. Unfortunately, most of these taped sessions are never transcribed, leaving the audio or VHS tape as the only record of the important discussions and debate. One of the many services LRI offers is a search for any tapes that might exist in connection with the legislation of interest.
The multi-volume Senate and Assembly journals are the Legislature’s annual diaries, recording more than you could ever possibly want to know about its day to day, procedural actions. However, from time to time, they record substantive statements of legislative intent about specific measures, or Legislative Counsel opinions that may have been instrumental in a bill’s deliberations. Such journal research is dependent upon the existence of the indices. However, it can take three years for the indices to be published at the end of a legislative session, seriously hamstringing in-depth journal research for recent legislation. In such cases, a substitute page-by-page and day-by-day search can be ordered. Happily, digital online postings make this work a lot less tedious because they are word searchable. Yet their time-consuming nature requires them to be undertaken as a separate project for the affected years.
If you have any questions, please contact Lisa Hampton at (800) 530-7613 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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