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Basic Legal Research Guide: Research in the Legislative Branch

From Bills to Codified Law- State

For an excellent tutorial on conducting an Illinois Legislative History see

(a) Bills, Debates, and Public Laws can be found in Laws of the State of Illinois, located on the 2d floor at DOC.IL S 4.111. Western Illinois University is in the process of digitizing the Laws of Illinois, both historical and current volumes. The digital Laws of Illinois are available here.

(b) Statutes – the official compilation of effective Illinois laws is the Illinois Compiled Statutes. An unofficial, annotated version is published by Smith Hurt – Illinois Compiled Statutes Annotated located on the 2d floor at KFI1230 1993

(c) Constitution – an annotated copy of the text of the Illinois Constitution can be found in the Smith Hurd Illinois Compiled Statutes. The official text can also be located on several Illinois government web sites as well as on Lexis Nexis and Westlaw.

From Bills to Codified Law- Federal

(a) Bills

A Federal "bill" is the text of legislation being considered for passage in either the Senate or the House of Representatives. Federal bills are officially published in the Congressional Record (2d floor – Government Documents DOC.X 1.1)

Full text of bills back to 1989 can be located atthe Library of Congress's Thomas web site or at the GPO Access (General Printing Office)'s web site, from the 103rd Congress to the present.

(b) Debates and Hearings

Congressional debates and published text of hearings can also be located in the Congressional Record (2d floor – Government Documents DOC.X 1.1) and online, back to the 104th Congress, at
GPO Access web site or back to the 101st Congress at Library of Congress's Thomas web site.

(c) Congressional Reports

Prepared by Congressional Committees to explain their findings and recommendations on issues related to a particular bill. At least one Congressional report for every bill is printed in the United States Code Congressional and Administrative News (2d Floor KF48 .U5x). Reports can be found online at a variety of free and subscription sources accessible through the Library.

(d) Public Laws (P.L.)

Also known as session laws; laws created and enacted by the U.S. government that affect the general population. Public Laws are published officially in Statutes at Large and subsequently codified in the United States Code.

(i) Recent P.L.s are posted free on GPO Access back to the 104th Congress (199596); older P.L.s are available on Thomas back to the 93rd Congress (197374).
GPO Access lets you search and browse titles. With Thomas you have to know the Bill or P.L. number.

(ii) Public Laws are published in the U.S. Code Congressional and Administrative New Service (USCCAN), back to 1941 and, after a year or so.

(e) Statutes

the United States Code are federal laws collected and organized by subject matter into fifty titles. Chapters and Sections correspond to specific subjects under a title.

The United States Code (USC) is the official code.

The United States Code Annotated (USCA) and the United States Code Service (USCS) are both unofficial, annotated codes. The U.S.C.A. is located on the 2d floor at KF62 .W4x

(f) Constitution

the text of the federal Constitution with annotations can be found in the U.S.C.A. set and also in various online sources including Lexis Nexis and Westlaw.