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California Legislative History

A guide to researching legislative history in California

Step 8: State Archives

The California State Archives, located in Sacramento, has a variety of legislative materials. It is the repository for legislative committee records. State law does not require individual legislators to deposit their records in the State Archives, but more than 300 have chosen to do so. Many of these documents are unpublished and may only be obtained at the archives.

For pre-1993 legislation (pre-Internet), the State Archives may be the only place to find committee analyses.

What is available at the State Archives?

Legislative committee records

  • Bill Files - c. 1960 to date: The most significant source of information on specific measures. May contain:
    • Analyses prepared by committee staff, the Legislative Analyst, and state agencies
    • Written testimony
    • Legislative counsel's opinions
    • Letters in support and opposition
    • Text of bill and amendments
    • Press releases and newspaper clippings
    • Background information
    • Video and audio tapes of hearings (occasionally)
  • Hearing Files - c. 1940 to date
    • Typically, legislative hearings focus on a particular subject, although discussion concerning specific legislative bills may also be included
    • Transcripts of hearings, background materials

Legislator records

  • Author Bill Files - c. 1950 to date. May include:
    • Records similar to committee bill files (above)
    • Correspondence and background material from bill's original sponsor (state agency, outside organization, or individual)
    • Letters in support and opposition
    • Author's floor and committee statements
    • Legislative Counsel's opinions
    • Press releases

Governor's records

  • Governor's Chaptered Bill Files - 1943 to 2010: The Governor's Office maintains files for each legislative bill signed into law (chaptered) or vetoed. Typically contain:
    • Analyses prepared by the Legislative Counsel, Attorney General, other constitutional officers, state agencies, and the Governor's staff
    • Correspondence from the bill's author and affected organizations and individuals 
    • Vetoed bill files include the text of the Governor's veto message

Other records

  • Caucus Bill Files - 1973 to date : Democratic and Republican Caucuses in both the Senate and Assembly prepare analyses which reflect their political party's views
  • Senate Floor Analyses Bill Files - 1993 to date
  • Senate and Assembly Videotapes - 1988 to date
  • State Agency records - various dates


Research services

Visit the archives in person

  • The Archives is located at 1020 O Street, Sacramento
  • The Research Room is open to the public. Hour information may be found here. 
  • Prior to visiting, contact the reference desk with a list of records you wish to view. The staff may pull items for you ahead of your visit

If you can't visit in person

  • The Archives also provides research service for those located outside the Sacramento area who are seeking legislative history information
  • For more information, contact the Archives reference desk