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Subject Guides: Legislative History Guide

Page history last edited by Roberta 2 years, 2 months ago

Dedication of the Montana State Capitol building, Helena,

Montana, July 4, 1902




Legislative History Guide


What is legislative history?


According to the State Law Library of Montana the term "legislative history" can mean two different things. First, "legislative history" refers to the chronological progress of a bill through the legislative process from its introduction to its enactment into law. In the legal field, however, "legislative history," also often refers to the collection of documents that are created during that process. Judges and attorneys often turn to these documents to try to determine why the legislature enacted a particular law or to aid in the interpretation of a portion of the law. This process of using legislative history to interpret a law is often referred to as finding the "legislative intent" behind the law.  See the State Law Library of Montana's "Montana Legislative History Research Guide" for more info.


Resources available at the Montana Historical Society Research Center


Montana Historical Society holds Montana Territorial Legislative records from 1864 to 1889 and Montana State Legislative records from 1890 to current. The researcher must note that many of the territorial and early state records do not include House and Senate committee minutes.  Legislative records are all assigned an "LR-Terr" or "LR" number based upon the legislative assembly. For example the 1999 session was the 56th Legislative Assembly, so its number is LR 56. All special sessions for a legislative assembly are included in the initial number. For example, the second special session that was held in May of 2000 is still part of the LR 56 records.


Audio and Video Recordings List


Digital audio and video recordings and scanned minute logs and exhibits 2005-Present on the Montana Legislature website. For instructions on how to find a specific committee recording please visit here. Legislative audio and video inventories are arranged by session year and committee. Click on the session year to get access to the list of audio and video resources at the Montana Historical Society State Archives by committee. 





Montana Territorial Legislative Assembly records, 1864-1889


Listed below are the legislative records collections with links to the online finding aids on the Archives West.  Click on the links below to find details about the minutes and other records available from each session.



Montana Legislative Assembly records, 1889-2017


     FINDING AIDS ONLINE (click a link below)



Governors' Records


List of Territorial and State Legislators

     Click the above heading to find lists of territorial and state legislators beginning with 1864 and coming up to the present.


Dave Walter's Capitol Capsules

     Click here to find an electronic version of the late MHS historian's collection of "This Day in the History of the Legislature" prepared for the Legislature in 2001.


Online Resources


  • The State Law Library of Montana's "Montana Legislative History Research Guide" provides step-by-step instructions to complete a legislative history.
  • The Montana State Legislature Website contains comprehensive information on all bills introduced by members of the state legislature from 1997-present, including the text of various versions of bills, information on upcoming hearings on bills, minutes of legislative committee hearings on bills, and audio files of selected hearings for the 2005 session and all committee hearings from 2007 sessions to the present.
  • The Montana Code Annotated is a collection of laws or statutes passed by the state legislature, arranged by topic. Montana Code Annotated is reprinted every 2 years (on odd years) after the legislature meets to incorporate changes to the laws made during the session.
  • The State Law Library of Montana gathered many links to on-line sources related to Montana laws, including a section on "Constitutional and Statehood Resources" which includes links to original texts of the state's constitutions, both historical and current, and the proceedings of the 1971-1972 Constitutional Convention.


 Montana Historical Society Research Center

 225 North Roberts, P.O. Box 201201, Helena, MT 59620-1201, 406-444-2681, 406-444-2696 (fax).



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