Holdings : Legislative Committee Records
Legislative Committee Records
The State Archives of Florida maintains legislative records that may be helpful when conducting
research into the history and intent of Florida laws.
WHAT LEGISLATIVE RECORDS ARE AVAILABLE?
records are arranged by bill number and meeting dates, and, occasionally,
by subject. They are not arranged by statute. The principal documents used
in conducting legislative research are the staff analyses or committee reports
prepared on individual bills by the legislative staff. They often provide
information on the intent behind proposed legislation, though they vary greatly
in detail and length. In addition to paper records, the Archives maintains
cassette and/or reel-to-reel recordings of committee meetings and floor discussion.
These tapes record the discussion and debate on particular bills. There are
no transcriptions available of these discussions.
- Modern legislative
committee records began to be preserved in 1969, following the passage of
the new Florida constitution and the creation of permanent committee staffs.
Consequently, no modern committee records exist for the years before 1969,
and staff analyses and tapes are not available. From 1969 through the mid-1970s,
legislative records are not as complete or as well-organized as for more recent
years. Researchers looking for legislative records from 1969-1973 in particular
may find that there is little or no information on specific bills from these
records for the current and immediately preceding legislative sessions are
not maintained at the State Archives. Records are kept by the individual
committees for one or more years, and are then sent to the Capitol Branch of the State Library,
850.488.2812, for processing. The records are subsequently sent to the State
Archives, where they are permanently preserved. Some committees, however,
may retain their records for as long as three or four years Researchers may
still access this material directly from the committee or the Capitol Branch.
is no guarantee that the existing records will answer a specific question
concerning a bill or law. This is particularly true if you are interested
in only a small portion of a bill. For example, if a researcher is concerned
with only one section of a bill that contains dozens or even hundreds of sections,
it is unlikely that the staff analysis will provide extensive (or even any)
information on this one section. Some bills generate a large amount of paperwork,
including numerous, lengthy analyses. The analyses of other bills may be quite
brief. Some analyses provide details on why the bill was introduced
(i.e. its intent), while others may only explain what the bill was
designed to do, with little or no interpretation.
- Bills are often
amended, sometimes extensively, on the floor of the house or senate. In many
cases the staff analyses will not reflect these changes. In recent years,
House committees have often produced a final staff analysis, but this is not
available for earlier bills, and even when available, it may not provide detailed
information on every aspect of a bill.
RESEARCHING LEGISLATIVE RECORDS
- The Archives
staff must have specific bill number(s) and year(s), or "Laws of Florida"
number(s) (also known as "session laws") to conduct legislative
research. Florida Statutes codify the laws passed by the legislature. Statutes
can be revised or amended many times over many years. Some revisions may be
minor, affecting only a small portion of a statute, while others may include
extensive revisions. Also, these laws often create or revise more than one
statute. The "History" notes listed at the end of each statute section
(i.e. 641.31) will list the laws that have created and subsequently amended
each statute. Some statutes may have only one or two laws listed in the "History"
section, while others may have ten or twenty. The Archives staff can research
two session laws per request. It is the responsibility of
the patron to determine which law(s) he/she is interested in. The Archives
staff cannot examine statutes to determine the relevancy of certain laws.
- Committee meetings
and Senate and House floor discussions are available on cassette or reel-to-reel
tapes. The tapes are arranged by committee meeting date or by senate or house
floor discussion/vote date. The Archives' staff cannot listen to these tapes
to determine their content, or record only those portions relating to a particular
bill, or to a specific portion of a bill. Patrons must obtain tapes for specific
dates and listen to find the portion relating to the specific bill they are
researching (each tape usually contains discussion on a number of bills).
Sometimes the tapes are annotated with the specific bills discussed listed
on each tape, but often there are numerous tapes for a particular date with
no annotation. In these cases, patrons would need to obtain all of the tapes
for a particular date and listen to find the one tape of interest. As with
paper records, there is no guarantee that the tapes will provide relevant
information. The audio quality of the recordings is also often less than ideal,
so portions may be difficult to decipher. Duplicated audio tapes reflect the
quality of the original.
Archives reference staff completes legislative requests in the order that
they are received. We cannot place an order ahead of earlier requests. Normally,
legislative requests can be completed and the patron called back the day after
the request is made. This, however, cannot be guaranteed. More complicated
requests, including those requiring tapes, often adds another day to the research.
Patrons requiring faster service may visit the Archives in person to examine
relevant records, or may hire a private research firm. The Archives maintains
a list of private researchers.
- The Archives
charges a fee for conducting legislative research for mail and phone researchers.
The standard fee is $20.00 per bill or session law. This includes the copying
of any staff analyses, committee reports, or other paper records which, in
the opinion of the Archives' staff, provide some information on legislative
intent. The $20.00 fee includes copying charges for up to 100 pages (additional
pages can be copied at a cost of .25 cents per page), and postage charges.
The typical legislative order may, however, contain only twenty to thirty
pages of material and, particularly for the period from 1969-1980, often far
less. The Archives can FAX paper records for an additional $1.00 per page.
Tapes can be ordered at a cost of $8.00 per tape. Prepayment is required for
all copying orders. Patrons may mail a check (payable to the Department of
State) to the State Archives of Florida, Mail Station 9A, Tallahassee, FL 32399-0250.
Patrons may also pay by credit card, which is the fastest method. The Archives
accepts Visa, MasterCard, and Discover cards. Material will
be mailed first class, unless the patron provides the Archives with an account
number to bill a private delivery service.
- The Archives
makes no representation that the legislative information provided is conclusive
or exhaustive. We are an information source and all information provided
by this office serves only as a beginning for your independent research. Patrons
are encouraged to visit the Archives and conduct legislative research in person
whenever possible. Patrons visiting the Archives in person are charged .25
cents per copy, without the $20.00 fee charged for out-of-town legislative
researchers. For those interested in visiting the Archives in person, it is
located in Room 101 of the R.A. Gray Building, 500 South Bronough Street,
links - for
more information on current legislation
Online Sunshine: Official Internet Site of the Florida Legislature
Florida Senate (information from 1998-present)
State Archives of Florida
Hours of Operation
Mon.-Fri. 9:00am- 4:30pm
Closed: Weekends and state
R.A. Gray Building
500 South Bronough Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0250
(Two blocks west of the State Capitol)