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New York Legal Research: Legislative History

This guide provides information on New York legal sources, and identifies pertinent resources available through the NYU Law Library

Compiling a Legislative History

Legislative history generally refers to the documents created in the course of the legislative process for a particular law. They are used, in part, to understand the legislative intent behind the law. Unlike federal legislative histories, there are few resources available for compiling the legislative history of a New York State law. The New York State Library has put together the steps required for New York legislative history research here. The main materials include, but are not limited to: bills, sponsor's memoranda, governor's memoranda, bill jackets, transcripts of floor debates/hearings. The boxes below contain links to some of these materials.

New York Legislative Process

Bills

Below are links to sources for finding New York State Bills. Older bills are available at the New York State Library.

Memoranda

Legislators introducing a bill submit a "sponsor's memoranda" explaining the bill's purpose. The governor may also issue memoranda when he signs bills ("approval memoranda") or rejects them ("veto memoranda"). These memoranda may be useful in determining legislative intent.

Bill Jackets

Bills passed by both houses (along with sponsor memoranda) are placed in folders called "bill jackets" prior to being sent to the governor's counsel. Bill Jackets may also include opinions from interested parties Bill jackets do not contain committee reports or hearings.

Debates and Hearings

A legislative committee may hold public hearings, but they are not required. Transcripts of some committee hearings may be available at the New York State Library in Albany.