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Government Documents Department Calvin T. Ryan Library University of Nebraska at Kearney ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
How to Find Nebraska Legislative Histories
1. What is a legislative history? A legislative history documents the progress of a legislative bill as it progresses from initial introduction to final passage in the Unicameral. The history consists of the bill itself and any subsequent amendments, committee hearings, debate on the floor of the legislature, and votes taken on the bill. If the bill was vetoed, a veto message from the Governor may be available also The three resources you will need are the Nebraska Legislative Journal (*L3300T001 [year], paper Nebraska Documents Collection); the Index to Floor Debates located in black notebooks on top of the microfilm cabinets in government documents; and the microfilmed hearings and debates in the microfilm cabinets next to the Nebraska Document microfiche cabinets. 2. Does every bill have a legislative history? Yes, each bill will have a history, even if it was not passed into law. 3. How do I find a legislative history for a bill? There are three starting points you may take, depending on the information you have. a. Finding a legislative history of a known LB number. Legislative bills (LB's) are introduced at the beginning of a new legislature and are simply numbered as they are introduced: LB 1 is the first one introduced, LB 2 the second, etc. Since each legislature lasts two years, there is a LB 1, etc. every two years. You must have the year of the legislature to find a bill’s legislative history. b. Finding legislative history by subject. Use the subject index (green pages) in the Nebraska Legislative Journal to locate bills introduced on a subject. It indexes all bills introduced, not just the ones that became law. c. Finding legislative history from a statutory citation. You may wish to locate a legislative history for something you found in the Nebraska Statutes. At the end of each section in the Statutes is a citation to the year and legislative bill from which that section originated.
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4. What do I do next? a. Use the Nebraska Legislative Journal from the year your law passed. Start with the chronology of bills section (blue pages) in the Journal. The chronology is arranged by bill number and lists each step the bill went through as it progressed. The information you need from the chronology is the name of the committee to which the bill was referred and the date(s) of the hearing(s). b. Next, find the committee hearing(s) on your bill. Use the "Index to Floor Debates" in black notebooks on top of the microfilm cabinets. Find the "(year) Committee Records" page which lists the microfilm roll numbers containing each committee's hearings. Committees are arranged alphabetically in the index and on the microfilm. Hearings from several committees may be on the same roll of microfilm. When you reach the committee's work on the microfilm, the hearings are arranged in chronological order: a hearing held in January will precede one held in February. c. To find the floor debate on the bill, use the "Floor Debate Index" that is also in the black notebooks. There is no subject index to floor debates. Use the number of your legislative bill to look up pages where action was taken on the floor of the Unicameral. Look for a span of pages such as 185-198, which would indicate that substantial debate took place on that day. Other citations to single page numbers generally indicate procedural action rather than substantive debate. Use the "Floor Debate Reel Pages" guide page to find out which reel your page numbers are on. 5. Then what? You may look at the microfilm on readers in the Government Documents index table area. Other readers are available on the lower level of the library. If you wish to make a paper copy of pages on the microfilm, you may take the film to the Copy Center on the main floor, across from the Circulation Desk. Microfilm cannot be checked out of the library. 6. What if I need help? Ask at the Government Documents Department offices during the day and at the Reference Desk in the evenings and on weekends.

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Diana J. Keith Associate Professor Head, Government Documents Department Calvin T. Ryan Library University of Nebraska at Kearney Revised July, 2001

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