Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law

Law Library

Arizona Legislative History: Research Guide


The purpose of this guide is to identify and outline sources of information about legislative enactments of the Arizona Legislature. This guide refers to materials in the Ross-Blakley Law Library, in commercial databases, and on the Arizona State Legislature website (ALIS) at The linked commercial databases require you to access them from the ASU or law school network or to use your ASURITE user ID and password. For an overview of the Arizona legislative process, see our Arizona Legislative Process research guide.


Look Up Code Section to Be Researched

Locate the latest version of the code section (for example, A.R.S. § 44-1261) to be researched in the Arizona Revised Statutes Annotated (A.R.S.) (KFA 2430 1956 .A2). Read the history note following the code section. Note the original chapter number and date (for example, Laws 1984, Ch. 265, § 1). Determine what amendments (for example, Amended by Laws 1998, Ch. 289, § 30) are relevant to your search. Don't forget to check the pocket part. The statutes on the Arizona State Legislature website are not useful for this purpose because they do not have historical notes.


Find the Session Law Passed by the Arizona Legislature

Look up the original chapter number in the Arizona Session Laws (KFA 2425 .A212) and note the original bill number and whether it originated in the House or the Senate (for example, S.B. 1283). The session laws from 1997 (43rd Legislature) to date are on the Arizona State Legislature website. The default is to the current legislative session. For another session, click on “change session” in the navigation bar at the top. Arizona Session Laws can also be found from 1864- in the Session Laws Library of HeinOnline


Locate Copies of All Versions of the Bill

House Bills
(KFA 2406 .L4 State Law (1982–2007), 1997 to date on Arizona State Legislature website)
See also (KFA 2406 .L45 Law Microforms (1971–75) Cabinet 48)
See also Hayden Library AZDOC 1933–

Senate Bills (KFA 2406 .L5 State Law (1982–2007), 1997 to date on Arizona State Legislature website)
See also (KFA 2406 .L55 Law Microforms (1969–79) Cabinet 48)
See also Hayden Library AZDOC 1949–

The Arizona State Legislature website has Bills and Bill Overviews (status reports) from 1997 (43rd Legislature) to date.

If the bill you need isn't in the Law Library's collection or on the Arizona State Legislature website, you will need to go to the Clerk of the House of Representatives or the Senate Resource Center at the State Capitol (see below).

Click here for an overview of How a Bill Becomes Law in Arizona.   

Consult The Journals of Both the House and Senate

If using the journals in print, turn to the tab marked “History” in the House Journal (KFA 2418 .A6) and Senate Journal (KFA 2418 .A5) for the year of the legislation. Look up the bill number and copy the chronology of actions taken on the bill. Do this in both the House and Senate Journals. Note which committee(s) considered the bill, as well as the time period that the bill was considered. You may be tempted to check the pages within the Journals that are mentioned in the History, but this is a waste of time.

On the Arizona State Legislature website, select the bill. To see the full text of the bill, click on “Show Versions.” To see a status report, click on “Show Bill Overview.” Bills and bill overviews date from 1997 (43rd Legislature) to the present. The default is to the current legislative session. For another session, click on “change session” in the navigation bar at the top.

Check the Committees Section of the House and Senate Journals

See if the Legislature appointed an Interim, Special, or Study committee on the subject of the legislation (for example, Joint Legislature Committee on Diploma Mills or Study Commission on the Model Administrative Procedure Act or Interim Study Committee on Teacher Retirement). Check the year the legislation was enacted, plus a year or two before. Much of the investigative work goes on in these temporary groups and they sometimes issue reports and recommendations to the Legislature generally, or to specific committees. If a committee that has been charged with investigating the topic is listed, there is a good chance that the Clerk of the House or Secretary of the Senate will have copies of these reports or minutes of their meetings. If they don't, the State Law Library 602-926-3948 or the Legislative Council Library 602-926-4236 might. Make a note.

Check the Arizona State Law Library's Legislative Study Committee Reports. For detailed information on researching this special collection, consult a reference librarian.

On the Arizona State Legislature website, check the list of Interim Committees.

Read the Appropriate Committee Information

If the legislation you are researching is from 1997 (43rd Legislature) or later, consult the Committee Minutes on the Arizona State Legislature website. The minutes are indexed by committee and then by the date that the committee heard the bill. It is necessary to know the committees that heard the bill and the dates they heard it. This information is available from the “Bill Overview” reports.

If the legislation you are researching is before 1997, you will need to go to the State Capitol at 1700 W. Washington Street to review the bill and committee files at the Clerk of the House (2nd floor, House of Representatives Building), 602-926-3032, and the Senate Resource Center (1st floor, Senate Building), 602-926-3848. Take all the information you have gathered thus far. Ask each clerk for the Bill File (House, 1971 to date; Senate, 1969 to date) which will contain all the proposed amendments and versions of the bill and the Committee Files (House, 1965 to date; Senate, 1967 to date) for the committees that considered the legislation. Then browse through the minutes during the time period the bill was being considered. (Don't bother with the Rules Committee file).

Watch for references to Interim Study Committees, Special Committees, or the Arizona Legislative Council. If you find a reference to a document produced by one of these groups, consult with the Clerk. These documents are rarely appended to the committee minutes. View live and video proceedings of floor debate and committee meetings from 2007--present at For proceedings prior to 2007 contact the Clerk of the House (2nd floor, House of Representatives Building), 602-926-3032, or the Senate Resource Center (1st floor, Senate Building), 602-926-3550.

Search for Commentary on the Legislation

Check the online catalogs of Arizona State University and the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records for materials that might relate to the legislation.

Check the Arizona Bar Journal 6/65–1988 (K1 .R5), Arizona Attorney, Arizona Law Review, and Arizona State Law Journal for articles that may discuss the legislation. Most of these publications are indexed in LegalTrac or can be found full-text on LexisNexis and Westlaw (1980 to date) or HeinOnline. Check LexisNexis, Westlaw, Access World News, and CD News: the Arizona Republic, Arizona Business Gazette newspaper files for commentaries that may have been in the Arizona Republic, the Arizona Business Gazette, or the Phoenix Gazette. For earlier statutes, the State Library maintains an index card file (territorial to 1987) covering the Arizona Republic and its predecessors, which might reference articles to the legislation. The Arizona State Library has complete runs of two publications that cover Arizona politics and government, The Arizona Legislative Review and the Arizona Capitol Times (1955 to date).

See also the State Library's publication Guide to Arizona Legislative History at Arizona's Capitol.  For an anecdotal history of the Arizona legislature from 1912-1967 see: Richards, J. Morris.  History of the Arizona State Legislature, 1912-1967, Law Microforms, KFA 2478 .M67 1990 Cabinet 48.


Run a Search in Arizona Cases on LexisNexis or Westlaw

See if a judge referred to some aspect of the statute's legislative history in the course of her opinion. (This is truly a long shot, but necessary in the thorough investigation of legislative history.)

Arizona Initiatives and Referenda

For information on researching initiatives and referenda in Arizona, see Tina Ching, Arizona Initiatives and Referenda, 26 Leg. Ref. Serv. Q. 21 (no. 3/4 2007).

You will now have as much information about a particular piece of legislation as there is to have. You will have to use your advocacy skills to use the information to your advantage. Good luck!! Please contact a Reference Librarian if you have questions.


Updated 6/2014


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