How to Compile Legislative History Using the Legislative Research Council Web Site
You can use the Legislative Research Council (LRC) web site to research and compile the history of bills introduced in 1997 or later. For bills introduced in 1996 or earlier, you must rely on printed legislative materials and microfilm. If you need assistance compiling older documents, contact Clare Charlson, Senior Research Analyst, at (605) 773-3251 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The LRC will keep legislative information dating back to 1997 on the web site for as long as possible. Eventually, however, data storage restraints will require the gradual removal of the information from the earliest years. When that happens, the information will still be available on CD-ROM at libraries across the state or by contacting the LRC.
In South Dakota, the legislative history of a bill generally consists of the following components.
No verbatim transcripts of any legislative proceedings are available.Committee minutes provide only a list of names of those who testified on a particular bill and the actions taken on it by members of the committee. The Senate Journal and House Journal provide only the actions taken during the floor proceedings. Debates are not included.
In 2000, South Dakota Public Broadcasting began to provide gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Legislature online. An audio archive of all floor sessions plus the meetings of the Senate and House Education Committees from 2000 is available at this address, http://www.sdpb.org/statehouse/.
In 2001, the coverage expands to include audio recordings of the meetings of all committees as well as all floor sessions. To listen, you may visit the South Dakota Public Broadcasting site listed above or you can look for the symbol (at left) outlined in blue that follows certain entries in the status report of the bill. Those symbols indicate that audio is available. Simply click on a symbol to listen for action on that bill.
To begin, return to the LRC Home Page. If you want the history of a bill from the current year, click on Current Legislative Session. If you want the history of a bill from a prior year, click on Past Sessions and then choose the appropriate year.
If you do not know the number of the bill, you may search the Subject Index for the number. If that doesnít help, click on Bills and then choose Text Search. This will allow you to search for the bill by keyword.
Retrieving the Bill Status Report
Once you have the bill number in hand, you are ready to begin compiling the pertinent legislative materials. Click on Bills and choose Quick Find. Enter the bill number and click on Get Bill(s). The status report of the bill will appear. All of the information necessary to compile the history is found in the bill status so you may want to print a copy for future reference. In scanning the report, for example, you can determine all of the dates pertinent to the bill and the committees to which the bill was assigned. You can also learn the fate of the bill including how it may have been amended, whether or not it passed, and whether or not the Governor signed it into law.
Retrieving Copies of Bills
If you scroll to the bottom of the bill status, you will see links that allow you to print or view a copy of the bill in all of the forms in which it existed as it worked its way through the process. Probably the most relevant of these is the bill in its original or introduced form and also the bill in its enrolled or enacted form, if it did indeed become law. The engrossed versions of the bill reflect amendments that were added to the bill along the way. You may print the bills in either an HTML version or an Adobe Acrobat version.
Retrieving the Committee Minutes
Next, refer to the bill status report to find the committee to which the bill was assigned and the date(s) on which it was heard. Click on the date listed to the left of any committee action, and the relevant set of minutes will appear. Print a copy, and be sure to include minutes from all committees that heard the bill.
You may also get to the committee minutes by clicking on Chamber or Committee from the starting page for that session. From there, simply choose the icon representing the committee of interest to you. Then, from the bar across the top, select Minutes. The dates of the meetings will appear. To view the minutes from a particular meeting, simply click on that date.
Retrieving the Journals
Gaining access to the appropriate pages in the Senate and House Journals is much like getting to the minutes. If you are looking at the status report of the bill, simply click on the date listed to the left of any floor action, and that dayís journal will appear in its entirety. Thus, youíll need to scroll down until you come to the action of interest to you.
You may also get the journals by clicking on Chamber or Committee from the starting page for that session. From there, choose either Senate or House from the left or right of the screen. Then, choose Journals from the bar across the top. The dates of each floor session will appear. Click on the particular date of interest to you.
Other Helpful Hints
The South Dakota Session Laws are also available on the web site. Simply click on that bar on the LRC Home Page. The Session Laws is an annual publication that contains all bills that become law during a given year. Editions from 1997 and later are available online. It also includes a reference guide that lists all of the sections of law that have been enacted or repealed during that year.
While the LRC Home Page does contain the Codified Laws, it contains only the statutes themselves and not the annotations. Thus, if you are trying to determine when a section of law was enacted or amended, use the South Dakota Codified Laws provided on the Internet by our publisher, Lexis Law Publishing, at http://www.michie.com/Resources/. The laws available there include the Session Law references you need to track the history of a bill.
Receiving Additional Assistance
If, during your search for South Dakota legislative history, you require further assistance, please contact the Legislative Research Council at (605) 773-3251.