Legislative publications available in the Research Center
As the 2013 session of the Legislature gets underway, we’d like to highlight some relevant publications that have been updated recently.
It’s always best to start with the Research Guide, such as Legislative History or Legislative Records Overview.
The Unannotated Code is the complete, codified law statutes reflecting changes in the most recent session. It has been published since 1982, when it was recognized that the full annotated code was getting unwieldy just to check what the “law of the land” was for a certain year.
The Utah Code Annotated is, however, immensely valuable when it comes to research in the legislative process and how bills turn into law (and sometimes even the intent of the legislation). Unlike other records and publications that are produced by government agencies and preserved by the Utah State Archives, this publication represents the work of editors experienced with legal research, and is purchased for the use of research and future historical context. Supplements and replacement (“pocket parts”) are released a couple times a year.
Administrative Rules are created by agencies of the state’s executive branch and are enacted as laws under regulatory authority granted by the Legislature or the state Constitution. In short, the Legislature has created a method by which Executive branch agencies can codify their own policies and procedures and give them the force of law. Like the Utah Code, the Administrative Code is compiled with authorization by editors and published for the use of legal research. The most up-to-date information on rules is always found at http://www.rules.utah.gov.
Senate Bill 1 from 1896
Finally picking up where we left off with the House of Representatives’ Bills in 2008, we are pleased to announce that the Senate Working Bills Files beginning in 1896 will be now be available online. Currently, work has been completed up through the beginning of the 1927 session (which equals just over 25% of sessions that will be part of the project). Researchers may browse and search for bill files from archives.utah.gov/digital/428.htm. In fact, unlike the House bills these include a Full Text Search. Additional sessions are going online as soon as images are scanned from microfilm, processed and imported with OCR text.
Contact the Research Center for assistance accessing later years, with 1990 to the present of course already available from the Utah State Legislature.
Legislative Books in the Research Center
The Utah State Library through its Pioneer databases has made the entire set of the Laws of Utah available online. The restricted access requires a Utah library card. Once through, one may search and browse the session laws published each year after the Utah State Legislature meets.
The session laws are key to legislative research which is explained fully in the Legislative Intent and History Research Guide. Until 1972, laws were not considered to be in effect until they had first been published, a requirement dating from the 1849 Constitution of the State of Deseret.
Legislative sessions were held annually until 1870, usually in the winter, from December to March. After that date biennial sessions were held in even numbered years until statehood. Starting with the second session of the new state legislature in 1897, biannual sessions were switched to odd numbered years. The 13th state legislature held the first special session in 1919, and after that date one or more special sessions began to be held more often.
A 1968 change in the state constitution created the budget session, and the first of these was held in 1970. These were held during the even numbered years when the regular session did not meet, and only government funding issues were considered. The constitution of the state was changed again in 1985 to provide for annual sessions of the legislature, eliminating the biannual budget session. Read more about the background of the Laws of Utah.
Thanks to the Utah State Law Library.