Legislative History
in North Carolina



Go To:
GENERAL INTRODUCTION
Federal Overview
North Carolina Overview


NORTH CAROLINA LEGISLATIVE HISTORY
Recommended Changes in Law
Versions of Bills
Standing Committee Minutes


LOCATING EXTRINSIC SOURCES IN RALEIGH



GENERAL INTRODUCTION

A legislative history is a compilation of documents which were produced during the process of a bill becoming a law. Insofar as legislative history reveals legislative intent, it may aid courts and agencies in determining questions of statutory construction.





Federal Overview


During the process of a bill becoming a public law, Congress produces an extensive collection of documents that comprise the legislative history of the law. The most important of these documents include:
  1. variations in the text of the bill between introduction and passage;
  2. hearings by Congressional committees;
  3. reports of Congressional committees;
  4. debates on the floor of Congress;
  5. Presidential messages upon approval or veto.

Descriptions of each of these items, their relative weights, and the tools used in compiling them can be found in standard texts on legal research, such as Morris L. Cohen, How to Find the Law (9th ed., West 1989).






North Carolina Overview


In North Carolina, the legislative history of a statute may be a factor in determining legislative intent. See Milk Com'n v. Food Stores, 270 N.C. 323, 332 (1967)(intent "must be found from the language of the act, its legislative history and the circumstances surrounding its adoption . . . ."); Ingram v. Johnson, 260 N.C. 697, 699 (1963) ("[I]t is proper to look to legislative history, judicial interpretation of prior statutes dealing with the question, and the changes, if any, made following a particular interpretation.").

The questions of when a court in North Carolina may resort to analysis of legislative history and what other factors it may consider in determining legislative intent may be gathered from North Carolina case law. Cases relevant to these topics are collected in Strong's North Carolina Index 4th, Statutes secs. 24-41 (1994) and West's North Carolina Digest 2d,Statutes secs. 174-234 (1991).

The chief items comprising the legislative history of a North Carolina statute are:

  1. recommended changes in law by study committees, commissions or Governors;
  2. text of the bill at various stages of the legislative process; and
  3. legislative standing committee minutes.

As this list demonstrates, prominent documents of federal legislative history -- hearings, floor debates and Congressional reports -- find no counterpart in North Carolina legislative history. Additionally, the federal category of "executive messages upon approval or veto" has not been relevant to legislative history in North Carolina due to the lack of veto power in its Governor prior to 1997.




NORTH CAROLINA LEGISLATIVE HISTORY


Recommended Changes in Law:
Study Committees, Commissions and Governors







Versions of Bills








    Standing Committee Minutes











    LOCATING EXTRINSIC SOURCES IN RALEIGH

    Supreme Court Library
    500 Justice Building
    2 East Morgan Street
    (919)733-3425
    Archives Search Room
    109 East Jones St.
    (919)733-3952
    Legislative Library (LOB)
    500 Legislative Office Bldg.
    300 N. Salisbury Street
    (919)733-9390
    Legislative Library
    2126 & 2226 Legislative Bldg.
    Jones Street
    (919)733-7778 (main)
    (919)733-7779 (bill status)



    Bills: Histories

    Legislative Library:
    Notebooks 1969 to 1984
    (microfilm; LOB location)

    Bill Status System 1985 to present


    Bills: Versions

    Archives Search Room:
    Scattered holdings 1730-1760
    1760's to 1973 session (1974)
    Legislative Library:
    House Bills 1971 to present; Senate Bills 1971 to present
    Supreme Court Library:
    Current and preceeding session


    Explanations, General Statutes Codification Division
    Recommendations, General Statutes Codification Division

    Supreme Court Library:
    1943
    (shelved in special collections room)


    Gubernatorial Addresses and Public Papers Series

    Legislative Library:
    1917 (Gov. Bickett) to present
    (also materials from selected earlier Governors)
    Supreme Court Library:
    1917 (Gov. Bickett) to present
    (also materials from selected earlier Governors)
    (shelved at J87/.N817/year)


    Legislative Journals

    Archives Search Room:
    1836 to present
    (some gaps in earlier years)
    Legislative Library:
    1842 to present
    (some gaps in earlier years; LOB location)
    Supreme Court Library:
    1787 to present
    (some gaps in earlier years)


    Legislative Research Commission Activities

    Legislative Library:

    Supreme Court Library:
    1971 to present
    (some gaps in earlier years)
    (shelved at KFN7420/.L5/L4/year)


    Legislative Commissions and Non-Standing Committees Interim Studies

    Legislative Library:

    Supreme Court Library:
    1973 to present
    (shelved at KFN7420/.L5/I5/year)


    Memoranda, General Statutes Commission

    Legislative Library:
    1959 to present
    (some gaps in earlier years; LOB location)
    Supreme Court Library:
    1959 to present
    (some gaps in earlier years)
    (shelved at KFN7427/.G4/A4/year)
    (n.b.: The Revisor of Statutes is the custodian of these materials.)


    Minutes, General Statutes Commission

    Supreme Court Library:
    1989 to present
    (shelved at KFN7427/.G46)
    (n.b.: The Revisor of Statutes is the custodian of these materials.)


    Minutes, Legislative Research Commission

    Legislative Library:
    1977 to present
    (collection spotty as committees not required to file minutes; all but recent items on microfilm in LOB)
    (n.b.: The Revisor of Statutes is the custodian of these materials.)


    Minutes, Legislative Study Committees and Commissions

    Legislative Library:
    1963 to present
    (collection spotty as committees not required to file minutes; all but recent items on microfilm in LOB)


    Minutes, Standing Legislative Committees

    Legislative Library:
    1977 to present
    (scattered holdings for early 1970's)
    (n.b.: The Revisor of Statutes is the custodian of these materials.)


    Reports, Extra-Legislative Study Committees and Commissions

    Legislative Library:
    1987 to present
    (some from earlier years; collection more extensive from date shown.)
    Supreme Court Library
    1977 to present
    (some from earlier years; collection more extensive from date shown.)


    Reports (Biennial), General Statutes Commission

    Legislative Library:
    1947 to present
    (LOB location)
    Supreme Court Library:
    1947 to present
    (shelved at KFN7427/.G4/A157)


    Reports, Legislative Research Commission

    (formerly Legislative Council)
    Legislative Library:
    1965 to present
    (LOB location except most current)
    Supreme Court Library:
    1965 to present


    Reports, Legislative Study Committees and Commissions

    Legislative Library:
    1960 - present
    (LOB location; collection most complete from late 1960's)
    Supreme Court Library:
    Scattered holdings
    (more comprehensive from 1977 forward)


    Session Laws

    Archives Search Room:
    1817 to present
    Legislative Library:
    1821 to present
    Supreme Court Library:
    1715 to present