Legislative History Research
Legislative history research involves the background research and study of the circumstances surrounding the enactment of a statute, it includes the study of the bill hearings, committee reports and floor debates. A research is conducted as to which committees were involved, who were the committee members and how the legislative language was amended till its final passage. Understanding the evolution of a particular law helps in interpreting the law in a better manner.
HOW TO GO ABOUT LEGISLATIVE HISTORY RESEARCH
The documents which are so reviewed for this research include bills, hearings, committee reports, conference reports and debates are the various legislative documents.
A bill is introduced after which number is assigned to it and then it is referred to a committee before it is passed. A statutory provision can be interpreted based on the inclusion, deletion or modification of language in the text of the bill.
It focus on the views of the various persons or organizations interested in the legislation testifying before Congress rather than on the outlook of the committee or Congress and hence less useful in interpreting the statute. However it helps in understanding the background.
Committee Report and Conference reports:
These are the most important source of legislative history. Reports from each of the House and Senate committees that considered the legislation describes its purposes, reasons behind committee's recommendations on the bill etc. A “section-by-section” analysis of the bill is provided. Conference reports are issued when a conference committee was appointed to draft a compromise bill acceptable to both the House and Senate.
These include discussions for or against proposed bills, amendments, and explanations of provisions that are vague. Congressional Record contains a transcript of these debates and legislative proceedings.
The President signs a bill into law sometimes by explaining the reason for his approval. There is disagreement about their importance to legislative history.
Other Congressional Documents: Other documents include committee prints and House and Senate documents. Committee prints contain special reports or compilations of earlier legislative history research documents prepared for the use of the committee. House and Senate documents are usually of lesser importance and contain special material prepared for Congress.