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Washington Legislative History: Introduction

Outlines basic procedures for conducting legislative history research in Washington state.

Introduction

Washington legislative histories help clarify the intent of the Legislature in passing an act, and are typically used to assist courts in resolving conflicts arising from ambiguous statutory provisions. For example, legislative history research might uncover specific language in a draft version of a bill that was not included in the final bill as passed into law. In this instance, an attorney might argue that the legislature did not intend for facts covered by the deleted material to fall under the law as enacted.

The published sources of legislative history information in Washington are less detailed than the extensive, systematic publication of congressional debates, committee reports, and other legislative material available at the federal level. Though there is no official, comprehensive compilation of legislative histories published in Washington, valuable information is available from a number of published sources, discussed within this guide. Unpublished materials are also readily available from the Washington State Archives and from the Washington State Legislature itself.

Chastek Library, Gonzaga University School of Law | 721 N. Cincinnati St. Spokane, WA 99220-3528 | 509.313.3758