Skip to main content

Washington State Legislative History

Identifies online and print sources for researching the legislative intent and history of bills enacted into law by the Washington State Legislature


Legislative history refers to the documents and other materials created during the Legislature’s consideration of a bill. Researchers are often interested in reviewing these materials to try to determine why the Legislature enacted the law, or why it used specific language (that is, legislative intent).

In Washington, several of the useful sources for legislative history are available from the mid-1970s forward. The text of bills and journals from both the House and Senate are available for earlier periods of time.

Depending on when the law in which you are interested was enacted, your research may involve print and/or online materials. Sources on the Internet go back to 1991. The State Archives in Olympia may have items not found in print or online sources.

When researching a legislative history, it is particularly important to know when to stop. It is often the case that the more time spent and the farther afield ventured, the lower the rate of return.

Related Guides

See also:

Other libraries have guides on Washington legislative history:

Legislative History - Washington State Archives

Legislative History Guide - Public Law Library of King County

Washington Legislative History and Legislative Intent - Washington State Law Library

Washington Legislative History Research - Seattle University School of Law Library

Need to research legislative history for a state other than Washington? See State Legislative History Research Guides Inventory - Indiana University Jerome Hall Law Library for links to comparable guides prepared by other law librarians.