Assembling a legislative history can be difficult and time consuming. Often, even after a long search, a careful researcher will often turn up little or no useful information. It is a good idea to carefully consider if a legislative history will assist you with your legal argument.
The first question every researcher should ask is "Will a legislative history help with my legal question?" Former Justice Landau of the Oregon Supreme Court laid out the three uses of a legislative history in statutory construction:
Resolving ambiguity in the text
Establishing the general purpose of the legislation
Confirming what the analysis of the text shows
(Hon. Jack L. Landau, Legislative History and Statutory Construction, in Oregon Legislative History: Research and Time Management Tips from the Experts (OLI 2015))
If you have decided that you can use a legislative history in your argument you may want to weigh the utility of the history against how difficult you may find creating the legislative history. Some factors in assessing such difficulty are:
If you decide to pursue a legislative history you can use this guide and listed resources to assemble a robust history for your legal argument
A traditional legislative history refers to the documents produced by the legislature as a bill is introduced, considered, and debated. These documents can include:
Many other documents can help clarify the intent of the legislature or resolve ambiguous statutory language. These depend on the character of the law in question. They include sources like:
**Please note that law librarians are only able to provide guidance for legal research purposes.**
For legal advice, you may want to contact the Oregon State Bar Lawyer Referral Service. The first in-office consultation with an attorney referred through this service is $35 or less.
State of Oregon Employees: Contact the library for specialty legal research materials that may be available at your desktop.