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Texas Legislative History Research

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

Finding the Bill Number from the Session Law Chapter

The session laws contain the full text of the enrolled (final) version of all bills passed by the Legislature.  These bills are called Acts, and are numbered chronologically into chapters.  This means that the first bill passed in a session of the Legislature would be Chapter 1, the second bill would be Chapter 2, and so on. 

Depending on the year in which the legislation was passed, the session laws publication may have a different title than the current official publication, which is the General and Special Laws of Texas.  A chart showing the official session law titles by year is below:

Chart showing the evolution of the titles of Texas Session Law publications

For session laws prior to 1927, you will need to look in one of two publications. 

  • Session laws from 1846-1927 have various titles: Laws of the Legislature of the State of Texas (1849-1853); General Laws of the Legislature of the State of Texas (1855-1871); and General Laws of the State of Texas (1873-1925).  This set is generally known as Laws Passed by the Legislature of the State of Texas, and is found at the same call number as above.
  • Session laws prior to 1846, Laws of the Republic of Texas, can be viewed on microfiche or accessed electronically using HeinOnline (see immediately below).

Additionally, for on-campus researchers, the full text of all session laws from 1836-present can be found on HeinOnline.

  • Note: for users who are not affiliated with the law school, you will want to access HeinOnline in the following manner: follow this link to HeinOnline from the UT Libraries' databases page; click on the link in the large green box that says "Subscribers Click Here to Enter"; choose the "Session Laws Library" link under "Subscribed Libraries"; then, scroll down until you see a link for Texas, and click on it.  You will then be able to view session laws by year and legislative session.  Please contact a reference librarian if you need assistance accessing HeinOnline.

Once you've located the session law chapter, you will find the bill number that corresponds to the Act directly under the chapter number on the first page. See the examples below.

It is also possible to find out which bill number corresponds to which chapter number using the Legislative Reference Library's online cross-reference tables.  This service goes back to the 19th Legislature (1885). 

Once you have the bill number, proceed to Step 2: Bill File.

Search Example

Once you have found the statute in Vernon's Texas Codes and Statutes Annotated, the Historical and Statutory Notes section following the statute will provide you with a citation to the session laws, where you can see the original bill as passed.  In the previous example, the Texas Government Code section 325.025, the Historical and Statutory Notes showed that the statutory language came Acts 2007, 80th Legislature, chapter 928, section 1.01.  To find this session law, you would look in the volumes of the General and Special Laws of Texas for the 80th Legislature, and find chapter 928.  Once you have located this, the original bill number can be found right below the chapter heading, as shown in the red box below.  You now know that the original language from this law came from House Bill Number 3249 in the 80th Legislature.

Image of print version of Session Law in the General and Special Laws of Texas

Now that you have the bill number, proceed to Step 2: Bill File.