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California Legislative History

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.

Locating Relevant Entries in the Assembly and Senate Journals

Once you have found the History identifying each date that action was taken on a bill, the next step is to locate the relevant Journal entries for each of those dates. 

For each two year legislative session, the Assembly and Senate both issue Journals that are organized by date and summarize the actions they took on each day they were in session. Although the Journals do not provide complete transcripts, they may include summaries of debates, votes taken on bills, governor's veto and signing messages, and the text of amendments made to bills.

To locate the relevant Journal entries for a bill, locate the Assembly or Senate Final History for the bill and then check each listed date for relevant entries. For example, if the History says that the bill passed the Assembly on March 4, 1980 and the Senate on April 25, 1980, check the 1980 Assembly Journal entry for March 4 and the 1980 Senate Journal entry for April 25.

Additionally, check the Journals for the following content:

  • Committee reports. Selected reports authored by legislative committees were published in the appendices of the Senate Journal from 1946 to 1970 and the Assembly Journal from 1956 to 1970.
  • Legislative Counsel Opinions. Legislative Counsel are the attorneys who assist legislators in drafting the text of their bills. Sometimes, legislators will ask them to issue an opinion on a bill and publish the opinion in the Journal. Check  the index for the year the bill was enacted for the term “Legislative Counsel.”
  • Letters of Legislative Intent. Sometimes legislators will issue letters explicitly stating their intent and publish them in the Journal, either at the time the bill was passed or a few years later. Check the index for the year the bill was enacted and a few following years for the term "legislative intent" or the legislator's name.

The California Assembly posts all of its journals online:

Additionally, libraries have scanned and posted both Senate and Assembly Journals from their collections on HathiTrust and Google Books. For complete lists of journals available for free from these sources, see:

Finally, journals are also available from the paid LLMC Digital database and in print at the library:

In addition to the final Senate and Assembly Journals produced at the end of each legislative session, the Senate and Assembly each produce their own Daily Journal, which summarizes the actions taken on a specific day.

Both the Senate and the Assembly post their recent Daily Journals: