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Texas Legislative History Research

A guide to walk you through the process of compiling legislative history of Texas legislation

What is a Bill File?

A bill file is the official collection of documents that are produced during a bill's journey through the legislative process.  Some documents that a bill file may contain include:

  • Introduced version
  • Engrossed version
  • Enrolled version
  • House committee report with vote sheet and bill analysis
  • Senate committee report with vote sheet
  • Senate amendments printing
  • Senate Research Center bill analyses
  • Conference committee report with side-by-side analysis
  • Fiscal notes

NOTE: Transcripts of committee hearings and floor debates are not included in the bill file.

For further information on the types of bill analyses that are available, please see the Legislative Reference Library webpage on Bill Files.

How Can I Access the Bill File?

If the legislation you are researching was passed in 1961 or later, you will be able to access the bill file electronically.  If the legislation is older than that, you will have to research the bill file at the Texas State Archives.  More information is available in the table below.

Table detailing how to access bill files

Signed versions of bills from the most recent legislative session are available from the Texas Secretary of State.

Search Example

In Step 1, your search led you to find the bill number using the session laws; the bill number was House Bill 3249 in the 80th Legislature.  Since this bill was passed after the 57th Legislature (1961), you can search for the bill file online.  In this case, looking at the table above, you can see that a bill file for a bill from the 80th Legislature can be searched on the Bill Lookup section of the Texas Legislature Online website.

An image showing the interface of the Bill Lookup portion of the Texas Legislature Online webpage

Once you enter your bill information and click submit, you will be directed to a complete history of the bill.  To see the bill file documents, click on the "Text" tab at the top of the page. 

Sample image showing the layout of an online bill file

Proceed to Step 3: Bill History