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Law Research Guide: State Bills,Laws,Const.

State Bills

State legislative databases

These lists of links to databases maintained by the states' legislatures may provide more years' worth of data or different search capabilities than the aggregators below. For a comprehensive search, we recommend searching both the state legislative databases and the aggregators.

List of State Legislatures, State Laws, and State Regulations, from the Law Librarians' Society of Washington, D.C (LLSDC)

State Agency Databases Project, GODORT

Aggregators

Time period of available bills may depend on the state. For a comprehensive search, we recommend searching both the state legislative databases and the aggregators.

Nexis Uni. Best Bet

  • Text of bills: Choose Advanced Search > Legal > Statutes and Legislation > US Bill Text.
  • Bill tracking: Choose Advanced Search > Legal > Statutes and Legislation > US Bill Tracking.

LegiScan
Search bills by bill number or full-text; search nationwide or by state.

Open States
For a particular state, search full-text or filter by status, session, chamber, sponsor, type, or subject. Search nationwide with fewer options to filter.

NCSL 50-State Searchable Bill Databases
Legislative bill tracking on a number of issues such as agriculture and rural development, campaign finance, education, election reform, energy and environment, health reform, youth, etc.

BillTrack50

Maine Bills

Bill Tracking & Text Search, Maine Legislature

Nexis Uni.

  • Text of bills: Choose Advanced Search > Legal > Statutes and Legislation > US Bill Text. Search. Then limit by Jurisdiction > Maine.
  • Bill tracking: Choose Advanced Search > Legal > Statutes and Legislation > US Bill Tracking. Search. Then limit by Jurisdiction > Maine.

Legislative history

Legislative History, from the Maine State Law and Legislative Reference Library and their Research Assistance, including infographics and guides on Maine legislative history

Legislative History Collections, Maine State Legislature. "Compiled legislative histories for every Public Law, Private and Special Law, Resolve, Constitutional Resolution, Initiated Bill, Legislative Document, and House or Senate Paper since 1987."

Maine's Path of Legislation (the legislative process, how a bill becomes law). Overview, or in more depth.

Compiling a Maine legislative history

Reference

Maine state documents : a bibliography of legal and law related material
Main Ref KFM1 .H47 2017 (print)
"Provides citations to primary legal sources and relevant secondary souces" for Maine.

And more...

The Council of State Governments, "the nation’s largest nonpartisan organization serving all three branches of state elected and appointed officials"

Book of the States, 1935-present, annual (biennial in early years), published by The Council of State Governments, "information, answers and comparisons for all 56 states, commonwealths and territories of the United States".

National Conference of State Legislatures, "the nation's most respected bipartisan organization providing states support, ideas, connections and a strong voice on Capitol Hill."

Stateline, PEW, "provides daily reporting and analysis on trends in state policy"

Finding aids

  • "Primary legal sources for the states", in Morris L. Cohen and Robert C. Berring. How to Find the Law. American Casebook Series. 8th ed. ed. St. Paul, Minn.: West, 1983, Appendix B, pp. 715-749.
    Bowdoin Main Ref KF240 .C538 1983 (print)
    A very useful list of the basic legal sources for each state.
  • Babbitt, Charles J. Hand-List of Legislative Sessions and Session Laws, Statutory Revisions, Compilations, Code, Etc., and Constitutional Conventions of the United States and Its Possessions and of the Several States to May, 1912. Boston: Wright & Potter, 1912. Via Google Books.
  • Pimsleur, Meira G., and Marcia Singal Zubrow. Pimsleur's Checklists of Basic American Legal Publications. Littleton, Colo.: Published for American Association of Law Libraries by F B Rothman, 1962.
    Bowdoin Main Ref KF1 .P5 (print).
  • Macdonald, Grace E., and Ervin H. Pollack. Check-List of Session Laws. New York: Wilson Co, 1936. Via HathiTrust.
  • Pollack, Ervin H., and Grace Elizabeth Macdonald. A Supplement with Bibliographical Notes, Emendations and Additions to the Check List of Session Laws: Compiled by Grace E. Macdonald for the Public Clearing House Committee of the National Association of State Libraries. Prelim. ed. Boston: National Association of State Libraries, 1941. Via HathiTrust.
  • Macdonald, Grace E. Check-list of statutes of states of the United States of America, including revisions, compilations, digests, codes and indexes, Providence: Oxford Press, 1937. Via HathiTrust.

Maine State Laws and Code

  Years Format Location Indexing/Notes
Maine Revised Statutes Annotated (current laws in force) current edition online Maine Revised Statutes Statute Search
Maine Revised Statutes (current laws in force) 1840-1964 online Maine State Legislature  
1991-present online Nexis Uni Choose Menu > All Sources > Search Within Sources > Maine Revised Statutes.
current edition print Main Ref KFM30 1964 .A213  
current edition online Westlaw Choose: State Materials > (state) > (state) Statutes & Court Rules.
Session Laws, Laws of Maine 1820- online Maine Public Laws (PL), Private and Special Laws (PS), and Resolves (RES) by year and chapter number
1820- online HeinOnline > Session Laws Library. "This library contains the session laws of all 50 U.S. states as well as Canada, Australia, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, and the D.C. Register. All states are current within 60 days of the printed publication, and all states are available back to inception."
1842- print Maine L 38.22:  
1996- online Session Laws  
2009- online Published Session Laws and Other Materials  
Maine Advance Legislative Service 1989- online Nexis Uni Choose Menu > All Sources > Search Within Sources > Maine Advance Legislative Service.
superseded state statutes earliest to present online HeinOnline > State Statutes: A Historical Archive "A Historical Archive includes superseded state statutes for all fifty states. This database provides an avenue to understand the creation of historical statutes and includes coverage back until 1717."

Other States' Laws

  Format Location
All states (current laws in force) online HeinOnline > Session Laws Library.
"This library contains the session laws of all 50 U.S. states as well as Canada, Australia, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, and the D.C. Register. All states are current within 60 days of the printed publication, and all states are available back to inception." Best Bet
Westlaw. Choose: State Materials > (state) > (state) Statutes & Court Rules
Nexis Uni. Choose one of the following:
Menu > All Sources > (search on) Advance Legislative Service ... OR ...
Menu > All Sources > (search on) Statutes
FindLaw
Legal Information Institute (Cornell)
All states, historical laws online HeinOnline > Session Laws Library.
"This library contains the session laws of all 50 U.S. states as well as Canada, Australia, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, and the D.C. Register. All states are current within 60 days of the printed publication, and all states are available back to inception." Best Bet
target="_blank"HeinOnlineState Statutes: A Historical Archive.
"A Historical Archive includes superseded state statutes for all fifty states. This database provides an avenue to understand the creation of historical statutes and includes coverage back until 1717." Best Bet
Westlaw. Choose All Content > Statutes & Court Rules > Historical Statutes
Nexis Uni. Choose one of the following:
Menu > All Sources > (search on) Advance Legislative Service ... OR ...
Menu > All Sources > (search on) Statutes

Surveys of State Laws

... for use in comparing state laws. Many of the databases listed in the "State Bills" box (this page) also include state laws.

Subject Compilations of State Laws, 1960-present, via HeinOnline > Browse Databases by Name > "Subject Compilations of State Laws" (online).
"This bibliography identifies and describes fifty-state law surveys on hundreds of subjects published in hundreds of sources." This is much more detailed than National Survey of State Laws. Best Bet

National Survey of State Laws, 1993-present, via HeinOnline > Browse Databases by Name > "National Survey of State Laws" (online).
"Provides an overall view of some of the most frequently sought-after and controversial legal topics in the United States," including citations to the state laws. This is much less detailed than Subject Compilations of State Laws. Best Bet

Nexis Uni. Choose: "Advanced Search" > "Select a specific content type" > Law Reviews and Journals > 50 State Surveys. Best Bet

State Law Index, an index to the legislation of the states of the United States, Library of Congress, 1925-1948

Some CRS Reports include a survey of state laws.

The Office of Legislative Research, Connecticut General Assembly, has prepared some surveys of state laws.

Ready reference manual of the statute laws of the states and territories in the United States and the provinces of Canada: along with national, international laws, and miscellaneous information, 1889.

State Constitutions

HeinOnline > State Constitutions Illustrated.
"Containing the text of every constitution that has been in force for every state with the original, consolidated and current texts and an extensive collection of documents from before statehood, State Constitutions Illustrated provides comprehensive coverage."Best Bet

Nexis Uni has the constitutions of some states. Choose: Menu > All sources > (search on) Constitution.

Marsha L. Baum and Christian G. Fritz, "American Constitution-Making: The Neglected State Constitutional Sources", Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly 27 (Winter 2000): 199-242. See "Bibliographic Appendix of Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Compilations of American State Constitutions", pp. 223-242.
Materials are listed in chronological order by date of publication. Many of the materials are available in HathiTrust.

Thorpe, Francis Newton. The Federal and State Constitutions, Colonial Charters, and Other Organic Laws of the States, Territories, and Colonies Now or Heretofore Forming the United States of America; Compiled And Edited Under the Act of Congress of June 30, 1906. United States. 59th Cong., 2nd Sess, H.Doc. 357 pts. 1-7, serial 5190, 5191, 5192, 5193, 5194-1, 5194-2, 5194-3. 7 vols. Washington: GPO, 1907-1909. Also available via Internet Archive and HathiTrust.

  • Volume 1, United States - Alabama - District of Columbia. Via HeinOnline.
  • Volume 2, Florida - Kansas. Via HeinOnline.
  • Volume 3, Kentucky - Massachusetts. Via HeinOnline.
  • Volume 4, Michigan - New Hampshire. Via HeinOnline.
  • Volume 5, New Jersey - Philippine Islands. Via HeinOnline.
  • Volume 6, Porto Rico - Vermont. Via HeinOnline.
  • Volume 7, Virginia - Wyoming - Index. Via HeinOnline.

Kettleborough, Charles. The State Constitutions and the Federal Constitution and Organic Laws of the Territories and Other Colonial Dependencies of the United States of America. Indianapolis: B.F. Bowen & Co., 1918. HathiTrust.
Includes "the text of the federal constitution and the constitution of each of the forty-eight states, to which are added the organic laws of the territories and insular possessions. In all cases the constitutions are given as amended to date."

Other materials including and/or about state constitutions can be found by subject searching CBBcat:
Constitutions -- United States -- States.

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