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Kentucky Legal Research

Steps in Creating a Legislative History

It is impossible to compile a legislative history for a Kentucky law, like you are used to using at the federal level.  The Kentucky Legislature does not offer the same tools.  The legislature does not publish the debates or the reports of mark-up committees.  There are a few sources that may help you glean the legislative intent of a Kentucky law.  The basic steps are listed below:

Step 1
Your legislative history should begin with a Kentucky Revised Statute (KRS) number.
For example: KRS 2.300

Step 2
Find your statute in the KRS and go to the history portion at the end of the statute to find the Kentucky Acts chapter and year.
For example: History: 1996 c 278, §1, eff. 7-15-96
After locating the KRS, write down the information found in the History section at the end of the statute. You will need this information to locate the KRS in the Kentucky Acts.

Step 3
Select the volume of Kentucky Acts with the year and chapter coverage indicated.
For example: 1996 Kentucky Acts Chapters 1 to 318
Go to the chapter to locate the Senate or House bill number at the chapter heading.
For example: (HB 742)

Step 4
Use the Final Legislative Record and locate your bill in Bill Summaries where concise legislative action information, including which legislative committee(s) the bill was assigned, is recorded.
For example: Feb 29 – to State Government; etc.
If the Final Legislative Record is unavailable, you can still trace committee action. See Step 7 below then resume with Step 5.

Step 5
Check with the Legislative Research Commission (LRC) library to see if the committee minutes were taped during the session.
Phone: (502) 564-8100.  Senate and House committee hearing audio tapes are made at the discretion of the committee chairman. The tapes are not transcribed verbatim. Committee hearing minutes are available. Video tapes are made of the floor sessions by Kentucky Educational Television. Video tapes, beginning with the 1992 regular session, may be viewed at the Legislative Research Commission library, or purchased.

Step 6
If the committee meeting was not taped, the summary minutes of the committee the summary minutes of the committee hearings can be used. Summary minutes are available at the LRC library.

Step 7
House and Senate Journals can then be used to trace action on the bill. Use the appropriate Journal and gather all volumes for the corresponding year.
For example: If the bill is an HB for 1996, gather all volumes of House Journal 1996.
The last volume of the applicable Journal set year will contain a chart in an appendix showing when a bill was introduced, referred, reported, read, amended, voted on, and enrolled among other floor actions. Each action references a specific page number in the corresponding volumes.  When reviewing bill action in a Journal, note the date corresponding to the action. This is useful for referencing potential committee audio tapes, summary minutes, and video tapes.

Step 8
If legislative intent is not included in the bill text or discernable from committee materials, contact the bill sponsor or LRC committee staff for background material (if any).

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Information taken from Kentucky Legislative Research Commission, Tracing Legislative History website, and University of Louisville, College of Law, Kentucky Legislative History website.