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How do I Find Colorado Revised Statutes?: Track Legislative History

Introduction

What is a Legislative History?

A collection of all documentation generated by a bill as it moves through House and Senate chambers of the Colorado General Assembly on its way to becoming a statute in the CRS (or failing to pass). Reviewing this information helps clarify the legislative intent (or purpose) behind a law. It usually includes the following documents:

  • Bill (full-text of all versions of the bills)
  • History of actions on the bill
  • Committee reports
  • Transcripts/recordings of debates in the House and Senate
  • Statute (if bill is passed)

Great! Where do I Find a Legislative History?

Sorry! Colorado does not publish complete legislative histories. You'll have to compile one yourself using the resources and tips in this guide or by consulting with a librarian. Resources on newer legislation are usually available online. Researching older legislation or a statute with a very long history will probably involve visits or requests to different libraries so that you can get the materials in print. 

The General Process of Researching Legislative History

Better Know a Statute

stop You can't start researching a legislative history until you know the section or sections of the Colorado Revised Statutes you want to focus on.

If you haven't selected a section of the C.R.S., see the information in the Locate Statutes tab of this guide for information on finding statutes.


Use the History notes in your section(s) of the C.R.S. to identify the Colorado Session Laws that have the text of the bill that created, amended, or repealed the statute. (If your statute has a long history of amendments, you will be tracking down multiple Session Laws.)

In the section of the C.R.S. pictured below, the History indicates that the source is L. 69: p. 457, § 1. So you would need to locate the 1969 Session Laws and check page 457, section 1.

screenshot of a statute in LexisNexis

Return to the Source

Session Laws contain the text of a bill as it was enacted by the Colorado legislature. Now that you know which Session Law(s) you need, you can begin finding them. The Session Law also contains the bill number, which you need to continue your legislative history research.


When you locate the right volume and page of the Session Law, you will find the bill number below the chapter title and above the names of the bill's sponsors. The bill number will indicate whether this was a House or a Senate bill.

If an existing statute was amended during the legislative session:

  • ALL CAPS TEXT indicates language added to the statute
  • struck through text indicates language removed from the statute

screenshot of a session law. the bill number is after the chapter title and above the names of the bill's sponsors.

Do the Evolution

Once you've used the information in Steps 1 and 2 to determine the bill number(s) associated with your legislative history, you can being locating resources like the history of all actions taken on the bill, all versions of the bill prior to its adoption, committee hearings, house and senate transcripts, and more.

The history of actions taken on a bill and the information in the House and Senate Journals provide information on when the bill was likely being debated on the floor of the House or Senate and when committee hearings may have taken place. If your bill was part of a session after 1973, those dates can lead you to audio recordings of floor sessions and committee hearings, which can be requested - often for a fee - from other libraries.

The year your bill was moving through the House and Senate is the main factor determining where you will search for this information.

1998 - Present

Before 1998

exclaimation point This information is not available online. A legislative history on an older law could require using the collections at multiple libraries. We recommend consulting with a reference librarian if you are researching an older topic or statute.

Outside Information

Colorado Legislative Council Publications

Law Journals

Newspapers

Extensive archives of the Rocky Mountain News (1859-present) and the Denver Post (1894-present) are available on microfiche at the Denver Public Library.

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Other States?

If you need to research a legislative history for another state's law (or a federal law), follow a similar process using that state's resources.

Useful Resources

Guides to Colorado Legislative Histories

These guides from other libraries provide more comprehensive information on legislative histories.

Colorado Government Sources