Legislative History Guide

Much of the material in the DLS Library collection not only provides historical information, it is often used to discover intent behind provisions in the Maryland Code.  Other libraries in Maryland have various legislative history-related items in their collections, but the DLS Library’s collection is the most complete, especially for legislation within the past 15 years.

The DLS Library organizes much of its primary source material by bill number and year.  A bill number can be determined using several steps.  First, locate the statute you are researching in the Annotated Code of Maryland.  At the end of the statute, there is a history statement.  This statement indicates when a section of the Code was enacted and amended.  Here is an example:

Md. STATE GOVERNMENT Code Ann. § 2-1241 (2017)

§ 2-1241. Duties -- Library and public information services

   In addition to any other duties set forth elsewhere, the Office shall:

   (1) provide library and information services to the General Assembly and the general public;

   (2) index and preserve all information prepared as a result of the provisions of § 2-1238 of this subtitle; and

   (3) carry out any other function related to library and public information services required by the Executive Director.

HISTORY: 1997, ch. 635, § 2; ch. 636, § 2.
The history statement above indicates this provision was enacted in 1997 by Chapters 635 and 636.

You can use our online database to convert a Chapter number to a Bill number for bills from 1996 to the present.  If you are looking for a bill number prior to 1996 or just prefer to use a print-based resource, you will need to consult the physical book versions of the Laws of Maryland for that year.  If you prefer to look online, you can find the Chapter using the Laws of Maryland at the Archives of Maryland Online.

Using one of the resources above, you should be able to determine that Chapter 635 of 1997 was Senate Bill 903 of 1997.  Chapter 636 was House Bill 1450 of 1997

Once you have determined the bill that affected the change you are researching, you can request the file by the bill number and corresponding year.  Not all bill files are the same.  In the file documents you MAY find material such as a Senate and House Floor Report, position papers supporting or opposing the proposed legislation, witness lists, letters of advice from the Attorney General’s office, the Fiscal and Policy Note, amendments, drafts of the bill, and more.

For more information about the historical materials found in the DLS Library Collection and the ways in which they can be useful in conducting legislative history research, visit the DLS Library Collection page or review the DLS Library’s legislative history checklist.