Skip to main content

California Legislative History: Session Laws

This guide provides an overview of California legislative history materials available at Rains Library, as well as a how-to guide to perform your own legislative history.

Using Session Laws to Retrieve the Historical Statute and Identify the Bill Number

Session laws publish the text of statutes by date. By comparing the session law that originally enacted the statute with each session law that amended it, you can see how a statute has evolved over time. 

Additionally, to complete a legislative history of a statute, you will need to know the relevant bill numbers but, for older statutes, the Credits and History sections on Lexis and Westlaw only identify the chapter law citations, not bill numbers. Session laws can help you convert chapter law citations into bill numbers in three ways:

  • First, the bill number is sometimes written at the beginning of the session law. Always start your search for a bill number by checking the beginning of the session law.
  • Second, the Table of Laws Enacted, located near the beginning of each set of session laws, lists all chapter laws by number and identifies their bill numbers and authors.
  • Third, the Summary Digest, located near the end of each set of session laws, lists all chapter laws by number and provides their bill numbers, first listed author, and brief summaries of what they did.

See the Screencaps tabs for examples.

The Credits and History sections on Lexis and Westlaw link to HTML versions of recent session laws.

Additionally, complete PDF scans of all California's session laws are available online from:

The library also owns most of California's session laws in print:

Older editions of the summary digest were published separately from the session laws and are available in print:

While browsing California's session laws, you may notice that their official title has changed over time:

  • From 1883-1919, California session laws were published as Statutes of California and Amendments to the Codes.
  • From 1920-1967, California session laws were published as Statutes of California.
  • From 1968-present,  California session laws have been published as Statutes of California and Digest of Measures

Most commonly, they are called the Statutes of California.

As shown below, the Table of Laws Enacted (and accompanying Table of Resolutions Enacted) are located near the beginning of the session laws. The Summary Digest is located near the end.

In the example below, the Table of Laws Enacted shows that ch. 1 of 1973 was introduced as A.B. 25 and lists 8 authors.

In the example below, the Summary Digest shows that ch. 1 of 1973 was introduced as A.B. 25, lists the first author, and briefly explains what it did.