Legislative history refers to the record of materials generated as a piece of legislation goes through the legislative process. The legislative history for a bill begins when the bill is introduced in either the Florida Senate or Florida House of Representatives and ends when the bill either is enacted into law or is not enacted into law due to lack of support from the legislature or the governor.
As a bill works its way through the legislative process, various documents are generated, including different versions of the bill, committee reports, and voting histories.
Perhaps the primary reason for compiling a legislative history is to try to determine legislative intent; in other words, determining the goals of the Florida Legislature at the time of a bill's passage.
There are many sources of legislative intent, including the text of the bill as proposed, any amendments that were proposed or rejected, any bill analysis done on a bill, the record of hearings on the bill, speeches and floor debates made prior to the vote on the bill, and legislative journals.
There are five steps to compiling legislative histories:
1. Determine the bill and session, or year, number of the legislation that enacted the statutory language
2. Examine the bill file
3. Find the bill history
4. Listen to recordings or view documents from committee hearings and floor debates
5. Consult other relevant documents
Note: If you are beginning with the subject of the legislation, the statutory citation from the Laws of Florida, or session law chapter number, begin your research with Step 1. If you already have the bill number and session, or year, begin with Step 2.