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State Legislative Information

Step by Step Process

Researching legislative history in New York involves original research of documentary records in various forms, such as a sponsor's memo, the Governor's approval message, memoranda from State agencies and legislators, and comments or reports from legislative committees, commissions, bar associations, and lobbying groups.  New York's Legislature is composed of the New York State Assembly and the New York State Senate, each having its own archive of material. 

Step 1: Find the law's citation

Step 2: Locate a bill and introducer's memoranda

  • You can search for a bill and other related documents on the New York State Legislature's website.  To search for a bill, select "Bill No." from the dropdown menu.  Along the top of the screen, you will see options for status, text, summary, sponsor's memo, and voting.  Make sure to check all the boxes for more comprehensive results.
  • You can also search for a bill through the New York State Assembly.  If you already know the bill number, enter it and click search.  If you don't know the bill number, click on the link for Advanced Search to narrow your search by term, keyword, house, etc.
  • Additionally, you can search for a bill through the New York State Senate.  To search for a bill, filter the content type by bills.  If you already know the bill number, enter it in the box marked "print no" and click search.  If you don't know the bill number, you can narrow your search by session, keyword, sponsor, etc.

Step 3: Review transcripts of debates and hearings

  • Senate and assembly debates can be found on the New York State Archives.  They are referenced by the bill number, subject, and the day the bill was debated.
  • Legislative sessions are broadcasted live from the New York State Assembly and Senate websites.  You can filter by date and type.
  • Transcripts of some committee hearings may also be available by searching the catalog of the New York State Library. 
  • Transcripts of selected debates and committee hearings may also be available for a fee from New York Legislative Service.

Step 4: Review the bill jacket

  • A bill jacket is a compilation of documents received by the Governor's Office of General Counsel after a bill in New York has been passed by both houses is awaiting the governor's signature.  The bill jacket may contain letters and memoranda from state agencies, legislators, lobbyists, bar associations, and private citizens.
  • For bills in the current legislative session, you may submit a Freedom of Information Law request for the bill jacket.
  • For historical bills, the New York State Archives provides a digital collection of Legislative Bills and Veto Jackets from 1994 to the present.  

Additional Research Guides

Several libraries have put together excellent, detailed guides on New York's legislative history.  We encourage you to review the following libraries' guides and resources: