admissions

Researching the Legislative History of an Enacted Georgia statute

Before you begin...

Be sure you are familiar with how legislation is passed in Georgia. 

Decide how much time you want to spend

In general, state legislative history is elusive and Georgia is no exception.   The Georgia General Assembly does not publish transcripts of its floor debate or committee reports.   The hunt for legislative intent can be time-consuming and may not always produce results.  To avoid frustration, decide up front how much time you are willing to devote this research task.

Also keep in mind, the Georgia courts primarily look at the plain meaning of the statute when determining legislative intent.  You may do a great deal of research into the legislative intent of a statute only to have your argument rejected by the court.

Georgia Legislative History Resources

Consult an annotated code such as the O.C.G.A. to identify relevant session laws

Following the text of each statute, you'll find references to the statute's session laws.    Session law citations will appear in the following format: Ga. L. 1985, p. 1331, § 4. 

Review the text of the session laws

Session laws are all the laws from a given legislative session in the order in which they were passed, and they include special and private acts that never become part of the codified laws.

Often, a bill's preamble will include a statement of purpose.   You'll also want to compare versions of the statute if it has been amended

Consult the GSU Law Review's "Peach Pages"

The Georgia State University Law Review reviews selected Georgia legislation in its fall issues.   You can easily spot the fall issue because the actual color of the pages is peach.   The "Peach Pages" include analysis of the bills, relevant floor debate, personal interviews, and newspaper articles. 

Check  Lexis or Westlaw's legislative history databases

  • Westlaw - GA-LH  - bill histories, amendments, vote records, daily reports, weekly reports, news releases and governor's messages.  Coverage varies by document type but generally documents from 2000 - to present are included. 
  • Lexis - Georgia Legislative Bill History - Bill analyses, governor's messages, committee reports, fiscal messages and summary amendments.  Coverage varies by document type but generally documents from 2000 - to present are included.

Review the Georgia House and Senate Journals

The Journals contain little valuable legislative history.  The bill text is not in the Journals, but text of amendments is included.  They also contain votes, committee actions, amendments, and sponsors.  

Compare versions of bills

By comparing different versions of a bill, you can identify which text has been added or deleted from a bill.  Sometimes, these additions or deletions can help clarify the legislative intent of the bill.

Check the Georgia Legislative Network

The Georgia Legislative Network (GLN)  is available from the Georgia General Assembly's website: http://www.legis.ga.gov/.  The GLN has video files of Georgia House committee hearings from 2007 to present.  The website indicates that due to server space restrictions, only the most current video feeds are available.  You can contact the House Communications Office for information of archived meetings.  Also while the General Assembly is in session, you can watch gavel-to-gavel coverage of the proceedings at the GLN.

Look for media coverage

Contact the Georgia General Assembly