Legislature - History

Why legislative history matters when crafting a winning argument

You’ve been working day and night on a new case, and just when you think you are starting to get things under control, you run into a statutory roadblock.

Finding the relevant law wasn’t the problem. In fact, you found it right away. The issue is that the statute is frustratingly vague as to how it is supposed to be applied to your situation. And worse, no court has ever attempted to interpret this statute before, as least as far as you can tell from your research.

You then ask yourself, “Is there any other way I can find out how a court may apply this law to my case?” The answer: yes, there is another place you can look. Legislative history.

Step-by-step Guide

  1. Locate the Session Law Citation from history section of the current statute:
    1. UC Law Library
      1. Page's Ohio Revised Code Annotated
        Call Number: KFO30 1953 .P3
      2. Baldwin's Ohio Revised Code Annotated
        Call Number: KFO30 1994 . A2
      3. Anderson's Superseded Ohio Revised Code
        Law Library Microforms Cabinet 40
      1. UC Law Library
        1. Laws of Ohio (1803 - 1998)
          Call Number: KFO25.A22
        2. Baldwin's Ohio Legislative Service (1971 - present)
          Call Number: KFO15.B34
        1. UC Law Library
          1. Law Library Microforms (1963 - 1984)
          1. UC Law Library
            1. Law Library Microforms (1963 - 1988)
            1. UC Law Library
              1. Ohio House and Senate Journals (1880 - 1998)
                Call Number: KFO18 .O4H6
              2. The Bulletin (1977 - 1992)
                Call Number: KFO10 .G4
              3. Summary of Enactments (1975 - 1991)
                Call Number: KFO15 .L43
              4. Baldwin's Legislative Service (1971 - present)
                Call Number: KFO15 .B34
              1. Status Report of Legislation (1989 - present)
              2. Committee Activity Fiscal Notes (1989 - present)
              3. Committee Reports (1999 - present)
              4. Hannah Report (1989 - present)
                (1997 - present)
            2. Synopsis of Committee Amendments (1997 - present)
            3. Conference Committee Synopsis (1997 - present)
            4. Fiscal Notes (1997 - present)
            5. Status Report of Legislation (1997 - present)
              1. Digest of Enactments (1997 - present)
              2. Status Report of Legislation (1995 - present)
              1. Bill files (1949 - present)
              1. UC Law Library
                Call Number: KFO202 .H56
              1. UC Law Library
                Call Number: K15 .H567


              As the framers designed it, the Senate is more insulated from contact with the electorate than the House, and its members are expected to make decisions based more on experience and wisdom rather than ever-changing public opinion.

              In contrast to the House—where representation is proportional to population�h state has two senators, regardless of size. This system of equal representation in the Senate benefits smaller states, as they have a disproportionate influence relative to their size.

              Senators serve six-year terms, and there is no limit to how many terms they can serve. Only one-third of the Senate is up for election every two years. According to the Constitution, a prospective senator must be at least 30 years old and have been a U.S. citizen for at least nine years. Like representatives, they must also live in the state they represent.

              The vice president is not only second in command of the executive branch, but also president of the Senate. If there is a tie in the Senate when voting on a piece of legislation, the vice president casts the deciding vote. The most senior member of the Senate is known as the president pro tempore, who presides over the Senate in the vice president’s absence.

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              The ground was laid for what became a historic legislative session, one that some Republicans have celebrated as the most conservative session yet.

              Rockwall state Rep. Justin Holland is among the Republicans championing the session. Taking to Twitter on May 5, with only a few weeks of lawmaking left, Holland insisted that it was &ldquoperhaps the most conservative session in Texas history.&rdquo

              While many liberals would begrudgingly agree with that claim, some Republican Party leaders have slammed lawmakers for not moving the needle far enough right.


              On May 24, Holland apparently dressed to make history. He sported a navy and red tie and a plaid blazer. The state Senate had just passed one of his bills, all but ensuring that Texas would become a so-called Second Amendment sanctuary state. Soon, it&rsquod be on its way to the governor&rsquos desk.

              Holland was beaming as he posed for a photo beside Republican colleagues. State Reps. Shelby Slawson and Matt Schaefer had also advanced the conservative cause this session, spearheading two of the House&rsquos anti-abortion and pro-gun bills, respectively.

              With time running out on the clock, Holland knew the 87 th Legislature would be one for the books. &ldquoWe have addressed a very large number of conservative priorities,&rdquo Holland told me. &ldquoAnd I do think it is &mdash when the dust settles &mdash the most conservative session we&rsquove ever had, certainly since I&rsquove been here, but I think ever.&rdquo

              Gov. Abbott celebrated Holland&rsquos Second Amendment sanctuary bill on Twitter, writing it &ldquowould protect the Lone Star State from any new federal gun control regulations. Don&rsquot tread on Texas.&rdquo The Senate had also approved a compromise on Schaefer&rsquos so-called constitutional carry bill, which would allow Texans to carry a handgun without a license. And the previous Wednesday, the Senate&rsquos &ldquoheartbeat bill&rdquo was signed into law, effectively banning abortions statewide. Slawson had authored an identical companion bill in the House.

              On top of tending to regular responsibilities, such as passing the state&rsquos budget, the Legislature also had the once-in-a-decade redistricting process to contend with. Last year, state lawmakers expected they&rsquod have to make a grueling series of budget cuts, but the federal government helped by providing COVID-19 aid.

              And a special session for redistricting will be held later this year because of a delay in receiving census data. That further freed up the Republican-majority Legislature to focus on issues important to its base.

              Soon, Holland said, conservative lawmakers had passed religious liberties and bail reform bills, plus those pertaining to &ldquoelection integrity&rdquo&mdash or, as Democrats call it, &ldquovoter suppression.&rdquo The way Holland sees it, those were all major victories and conservative lawmakers had delivered the goods for Texas voters who resoundingly reelected them in November, despite Texas Democrats&rsquo hopes of reclaiming a House majority. Instead, they didn&rsquot pick up a single seat.

              Holland isn&rsquot the only one who thinks this was the most conservative yet. On May 11, Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith echoed the sentiment in a tweet: &ldquothis is my fifteenth #txlege and it is, hands down, not even close, the most conservative session i&rsquove ever seen,&rdquo he said, along with the hashtag #electionshaveconsequences.


              Last year, after a police officer killed George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, in Minneapolis, Black Lives Matter protests surged around the country. Activists rallied around the slogan &ldquodefund the police.&rdquo But conservative state lawmakers fought back, threatening to fiscally punish cities that slash law enforcement funding. They also pushed legislation that would make it more difficult for educators to teach about racism.

              On Thursday, May 6, state Rep. Jasmine Crockett booked it up to the House mic. The Dallas Democrat had a few pointed questions for House Bill 1900&rsquos author, and she didn&rsquot hold back.

              State Rep. Craig Goldman, a Republican from Fort Worth, had authored a bill that would punish certain municipalities that cut their police funding. The legislation would penalize cities of more than 250,000 people, including Dallas, which last year had opted to decrease its police overtime budget, though the department&rsquos overall budget increased.

              Crockett battered Goldman with questions that day, her attorney skills on full display. For her, it was personal. &ldquoSadly enough, plenty of people haven&rsquot been to South Dallas, where Black people are afraid most of the time because they don&rsquot know if they&rsquore going to get killed,&rdquo Crockett said, fighting back tears. &ldquoAnd instead of us doing something to protect people in this state, we decide to punish &mdash punish people who are already suffering.&rdquo Last week, the bill passed out of the Senate.

              Other Texas Democrats have also felt helpless to keep conservative legislation from advancing.

              On May 11, the Texas Democratic Party slammed House lawmakers for passing Senate Bill 7, which would limit the ways Texans can cast their ballots. The bill joined hundreds like it across the country, proposals to impose tighter restrictions on voting. The wave of legislation came in response to the 2020 presidential election, which many Republicans falsely claim was rigged against former President Donald Trump.

              Texas Democrats had again failed to stir up a blue wave last November, but the party&rsquos chair, Gilberto Hinojosa, issued a scorching statement on Republicans&rsquo &ldquovoter suppression&rdquo efforts, calling it their &ldquoonly hope of staying in power.&rdquo

              Even some Republicans were unhappy with the bill, albeit for different reasons. Take Allen West, chairman of the Texas GOP. He said SB 7 had been &ldquogutted and replaced,&rdquo a fact that disappointed him, given that election integrity was a priority.

              I caught up with West by phone on May 20, two days after his first grandson&rsquos birth. He gave lawmakers credit for passing the heartbeat bill that practically outlaws abortion &mdash an end to the &ldquodismemberment of unborn children,&rdquo he called it &mdash but that wasn&rsquot enough.

              West insisted the grassroots conservative base was disappointed with the Republican majority they worked so hard to elect. &ldquoWhen I think about some of the other things that have been wasted upon &mdash I mean, declaring Dr Pepper the official drink of Texas or San Marcos as the official mermaid capital of Texas &mdash I don&rsquot think the people want those to be priority issues,&rdquo he said.

              Lawmakers let die bills that would protect Confederate monuments. Important legislation regarding school choice and taxpayer-funded lobbying also fizzled out, West said. Plus, certain bills that would essentially ban gender-affirming care for transgender minors failed to make it to the finish line. &ldquoSo to come out and say this was the most conservative legislative session in history for the state of Texas,&rdquo West argued, &ldquothat&rsquos delusional, and I don&rsquot understand why anyone would say that.&rdquo

              State Rep. Holland thinks West is merely posturing for personal gain and positioning himself to run for higher office. &ldquoThe Republican Party of Texas has been hijacked by a carpetbagger from Florida, and so Allen West does not represent all of the Republicans in Texas,&rdquo Holland said.

              &ldquoThe type of Republican I am is to work on issues that mean things to our party and mean things to our conservative values,&rdquo he continued. &ldquo[West&rsquos] is to stoke up his base and make them think we&rsquore not doing a good job.&rdquo


              There&rsquos no denying fissures within the Texas GOP have grown since West&rsquos ascension to state GOP chair last summer.

              A former Florida congressman and Tea Party favorite, West moved to Texas sometime after he was defeated by a Democrat in his 2012 bid for reelection. Since then, he&rsquos carved a name for himself as a political firebrand and one of the governor&rsquos greatest Republican foes. Last October, he protested against Abbott&rsquos coronavirus restrictions outside the governor&rsquos mansion. Legislation that would have reined in some of Abbott&rsquos executive powers also died, West said, which was another state GOP priority.

              When we spoke, West said he&rsquod give the 2021 legislative session a &ldquoD&rdquo grade. But Thomas Marshall, a political science professor at the University of Texas at Arlington, disagrees: As of last Tuesday morning, he&rsquod give the session, from a conservative point of view, an &ldquoA-minus.&rdquo

              After holding onto a legislative majority in the 2020 election, Republicans set themselves up for success, Marshall said. They changed the Senate rules to require 18 votes instead of 19 for a supermajority, ensuring an easier route to pass conservative legislation. From there, they deftly avoided progressive legislation, such as skirting some of the provisions in the George Floyd Act, a police reform bill.

              Until around a decade ago, the Texas Senate was run by more moderate Republicans, Marshall said, but some have since lost reelection or retired. The remaining Senate Republicans are a more conservative bunch, certainly more so than those of the 1990s.

              But during the 2020 election, Democrats failed to gain enough ground in the Legislature, and that harmed their chances of blocking legislation they saw as particularly damaging, Marshall said. Republicans would have offered red-meat bills anyway, but this time around, it was easier to advance them.

              Although politics have become increasingly polarized for some time, Marshall said, last year&rsquos contentious presidential election and social justice protests sharply escalated the tension at the grassroots level. Republican voters expected their lawmakers to make big moves, even if they were symbolic.

              Legislators already anticipated a special session for redistricting in the fall, during which officials will take census data and redraw voting districts. But the legislative session got more complicated last Wednesday, with less than a week left to go before adjournment.

              Last Tuesday was the final day for the House to advance Senate bills, and as the clock struck midnight, Democratic House lawmakers celebrated: Time had run out on three of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick&rsquos priorities. One bill would have prevented local governments from paying lobbyists with taxpayer funds. Another would have prohibited social media giants from "censoring" Texans for their political viewpoints. The third bill was even more controversial: It would have kept young transgender athletes from playing on school sports teams that align with their gender identity.

              But Patrick had one last trick up his sleeve. In a tweet last Wednesday morning, he petitioned Abbott to call a special June session to pass those priorities.

              Things got even muddier late Sunday night after Democrats walked off the House floor to block the passage of SB 7, the "election integrity" bill. The move may have stalled that issue for now, but Gov. Abbott plans to add it to the special session agenda.

              By and large, though, legislators like Holland are pleased &mdash even if critics aren&rsquot. Soon, some lawmakers will ask voters to reelect them in November 2022. &ldquoI can&rsquot wait to go and brag on what a session we had,&rdquo Holland said. &ldquoAnd people that don&rsquot think we did enough, we&rsquoll just have to work on that next time for them.

              &ldquoIf they didn&rsquot think we did a good job,&rdquo he continued, &ldquothen we don&rsquot get to go back.&rdquo

              Keep the Dallas Observer Free. Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.

              The General Assembly has 253 members, consisting of a Senate with 50 members and a House of Representatives with 203 members, making it the second-largest state legislature in the nation (behind New Hampshire) and the largest full-time legislature.

              Senators are elected for a term of four years. Representatives are elected for a term of two years. [1] The Pennsylvania general elections are held on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November in even-numbered years. A vacant seat must be filled by special election, the date of which is set by the presiding officer of the respective house.

              Senators must be at least 25 years old, and Representatives at least 21 years old. They must be citizens and residents of the state for a minimum of four years and reside in their districts for at least one year. Individuals who have been convicted of felonies, including embezzlement, bribery, and perjury, are ineligible for election the state Constitution also adds the category of "other infamous crimes," which can be broadly interpreted by state courts. No one who has been previously expelled from the General Assembly may be elected. [2]

              Legislative districts are drawn every ten years, following the U.S. Census. Districts are drawn by a five-member commission, of which four members are the majority and minority leaders of each house (or their delegates). The fifth member, who chairs the committee, is appointed by the other four and may not be an elected or appointed official. If the leadership cannot decide on a fifth member, the State Supreme Court may appoint him or her.

              While in office, legislators may not hold civil office. Even if a member resigns, the Constitution states that he or she may not be appointed to civil office for the duration of the original term for which he or she was originally elected.

              The General Assembly is a continuing body within the term for which its representatives are elected. It convenes at 12 o'clock noon on the first Tuesday of January each year and then meets regularly throughout the year. [3] Both houses adjourn on November 30 in even-numbered years, when the terms of all members of the House and half the members of the Senate expire. Neither body can adjourn for more than three days without the consent of the other. [4]

              The governor may call a special session in order to press for legislation on important issues. As of 2017, only 35 special sessions have been called in the history of Pennsylvania. [5]

              The Assembly meets in the Pennsylvania State Capitol, which was completed in 1906. Under the Pennsylvania Constitution, the Assembly must meet in the City of Harrisburg and can move only if given the consent of both chambers.

              Legislation in Progress

              When researhing legislative history it is also important to know if there are current bills being considered in the legislature that may change the statute.

              The cumulative and weekly Senate and House Actions Report and Subject Index Report (KFK 10.S36) The current issue is on reserve. A few recent yearly issues are at reference on the second floor. Older issues for each session, since 1982, are kept on the third floor in the Kansas Statute section. The most recent edition of the Senate and House Actions Report and Subject Index is available from the Kansas Legislature. 

              Final issues for earlier years are available at the Kansas State Library (3rd floor of the Capitol) from 1976. The Kansas State Library also has bill locators for 1965-1975 that perform the same function as the final action reports.

              The State Library provides up-to-the-minute bill status information each legislative session and can be contacted at 296-3296 in Topeka and at 1-800-432-3919 statewide.

              Indexes and Sources

              Congressional Information Service (CIS) Annual (Call No. KF49 .C62). Indexes and abstracts congressional publications including House and Senate reports, hearings, committee prints and public laws since 1970. From 1970 – 1983, Abstracts volume includes a condensed &ldquoLegislative History&rdquo section listing congressional documents by public law number. From 1984 forward, includes separate Legislative Histories volume. Other Indexes by CIS are available for researching pre-1970 legislation (see Chart below).

              ProQuest Congressional Online version of the CIS Annual.

              United States Code, Congressional & Administrative News (USCCAN) (Call No. KF48 .W45). Reprints all public laws appearing in the Statutes at Large since 1941. Beginning in 1948, includes selected legislative history materials (e.g., excerpts of selected congressional reports and Congressional Record date references) beginning in 1986, includes Presidential signing statements.

              United States Statutes at Large (Call No. KF50 .U5). Beginning in 1963, contains legislative history citations for all public laws. For volumes 77-88 (1963-1974), includes a table entitled &ldquoGuide to Legislative History of Bills Enacted into Public Law.&rdquo For volume 89 forward, includes legislative history references at the end of individual public laws.

              Congressional Record Index (Call No. KF35). From 1873 to the present, each volume contains a &ldquoHistory of Bills and Resolutions&rdquo section, which includes citations to relevant floor debates as well as congressional reports and documents.

     Offers free access to federal legislative information, including full-text access to public laws and congressional bills (103rd Congress forward), House and Senate reports (104th Congress forward), nominations (97th Congress forward), and the Congressional Record (104th Congress forward). Also includes bill status and summary information starting in 1973 (93rd Congress).

              FDSys Full-text access to bills beginning with the 103rd Congress, the Congressional Record from 1994-present, selected House and Senate hearings from the 99th Congress forward, selected documents from the 94th Congress forward, selected reports from the 104th Congress forward, and &ldquoHistory of Bills and Resolutions&rdquo section of Congressional Record Index from 1983-present.

              Century of Lawmaking Includes records and acts of Congress from the Continental Congress and Constitutional Convention through the 43rd Congress, including the first three volumes of the Congressional Record, 1873-75.

              HeinOnline This subscription database includes all historical volumes of the Statutes at Large, the Congressional Record, and predecessor publications, as well as a substantial number of compiled legislative histories.


              The Pennsylvania Code

              The Pennsylvania Code is an official publication of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It contains regulations and other documents filed with the Legislative Reference Bureau under the act of July 31, 1968 (P. L. 769, No. 240) (45 P. S. §§ 1102, 1201—1208 and 1602) and 45 Pa.C.S. Chapters 5, 7 and 9, known as the Commonwealth Documents Law (CDL). It consists of 55 titles.

              The Pennsylvania Bulletin

              The Pennsylvania Bulletin Online includes the following: Statewide and local court rules the Governor's Proclamations and Executive Orders Actions by the General Assembly Rulemakings by State agencies Proposed Rulemakings by State agencies and State agency notices.

              Bogus Legislature

              President Franklin Pierce appointed Andrew Reeder to be the first governor of Kansas Territory. Most people believed he would support slavery in the new territory. However, Reeder supported the concept of popular sovereignty--letting the residents of Kansas Territory decide whether or not slavery would be allowed in Kansas.

              Governor Reeder called for the first election shortly after he arrived in the territory. The November 29, 1854, election was to select a delegate for U.S. Congress. John W. Whitfield, a proslavery supporter, was elected. Missouri residents had crossed into Kansas Territory to participate in the election. It is believed that more than half the votes were illegal. Although the election results were challenged, Whitfield was allowed to serve in Congress.

              The following spring Missourians again crossed the border to vote illegally in the first legislative election held on March 30, 1855. This resulted in the Bogus Legislature. It was called that because the free staters believed this proslavery legislature was illegitimate due to election fraud.

              Andrew Reeder, the territorial governor, declared the results void only in the six districts that filed protests but in the process, he alienated proslavery inhabitants as well as the many free staters. Elections were held in these districts but when the legislature finally convened, it ousted those elected in May and reinstated those elected in March. Free staters referred to this group as the "Bogus Legislature" because, in their view, it had come to power by fraudulent means. Paradoxically, they recognized some of the laws it passed such as those establishing county boundaries and local governing units.

              The Bogus Legislature met in Pawnee, near Fort Riley. Governor Reeder picked the town of Pawnee for several reasons. He wanted the legislature to meet far away from the influences of Missouri. Another reason was that Reeder was an investor in the city of Pawnee. When the proslavery legislature arrived, the building they were to meet in had no roof, floor, windows, or doors yet. Although some lodging was available, most legislators stayed in tents.

              When Governor Reeder spoke to the first territorial legislature, he identified several goals. The legislature was charged with establishing counties, setting up a judicial system, levying taxes, and organizing a militia. The legislators also had to determine a permanent seat of government, create a constitution, and decide if Kansas was to be a free or slave state.

              The legislature met in Pawnee for only four days. One of its major actions was to unseat all of the antislavery members. This, of course, angered the free staters. It was later reported that one antislavery legislator responded, "Gentlemen, this is a memorable day, and may become more so. Your acts will be the means of lighting the watch-fires of war in our land."

              The Bogus Legislature passed a bill moving the government to Shawnee Mission near the Missouri border. When the legislature met at Shawnee Mission, Governor Reeder announced that President Pierce had removed him from office. The proslavery legislature passed a slave code making it a punishable offense to speak against slavery in the territory. This so angered the antislavery residents they decided to set up their own government.

              Territorial era primary sources from the Kansas Historical Society are available online in the Bleeding Kansas portion of Kansas Memory and on a cooperative web site (Territorial Kansas Online) with the Kansas Collection, University of Kansas.

              Portions from The Kansas Journey.

              Entry: Bogus Legislature

              Author: Kansas Historical Society

              Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

              Date Created: February 2011

              Date Modified: February 2013

              The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.

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              We invite you to send further details about existing articles or submit articles on other topics in Kansas history.

              Kansas Memory

              Our online collections contain more than 500,000 images of photos, documents, and artifacts, which grows daily. Find your story in Kansas through this rich resource!

              Watch the video: Organs Of The Central Government. Class 8 - Civics. Learn With BYJUS (January 2022).