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Texas Legal Resources at Tarlton

A guide to finding Texas law in the Tarlton Law Library.

Statutes Arranged By Subject

Texas statutes are arranged by subject in the Texas Codes Annotated or the Texas Revised Civil Statutes Annotated; this subject arrangement is commonly referred to as Vernon's (because Vernon used to publish them and the name is still on the spine). Texas is in the process of reorganizing its statutes by moving the Texas Revised Civil Statutes into the Texas Codes, which is why there are two organizational schemes. There is a single general index.

  • Finding tools -
    • 1. Subject indexes (for individual Codes and for entire set)
    • 2. Tables -
      • Disposition table - shows where Civil Statute cites are located in the present Code.
      • Derivation table - shows where present Code sections were in the Civil Statutes.
  • Cross Reference Information -
    • Session law to Code or Civil Statute cite.
    • Code or Civil Statute cite to Session law.

A range of different publishers also offer a selected number of Texas annotated codes on discrete subjects (e.g., family law). O'Connor's produces one popular series of Texas annotated codes; the most recent two editions are available on Reserve at Tarlton's front circulation desk.

Statutes Arranged in Chronological Order

The subject-matter arrangement of the laws is actually the last step in the legislative process. Before being included in Vernon's, the laws are published chronologically, as passed by the legislature. There are three general stages of publication: 

1. Slip law is the first step in publication after an Act is passed by the Legislature (and signed by the Governor). In Texas, slip laws are not distributed to the public, but sent to the Statutory Documents Section of the Secretary of State's Office. Images of signed bills are available online via various databases.

2. Advance legislative services in pamphlet form, published in advance of later bound volumes.

3. Session laws are the enacted laws bound in chronological order, with consecutive pagination. In Texas, each law receives a chapter number.

  • Arranged in chapter (ch.) number order
  • Since 68th Legislature (1983), added language appears in italics or underline, stricken language appears in strikeout type.
  • General & Special Laws finding aids:
    • Disposition of Laws Tables
    • Civil Statutes, Codes, & Acts Amended, New or Repealed
    • Acts Amended or Repealed
    • Bills & Resolutions Approved
    • Bills & Resolutions Vetoed after Adjournment
    • Subject Index

Historic coverage:

1836–1845 1846–1927 1927–present
Laws of the Republic of Texas

There were two sets used at this time, which, after 1925, were merged into one set, the General and Special Laws of the State of Texas

The general title of the first set was: Laws Passed by the Legislature of the State of Texas. Some years had a variation in title:

  • 1849–53Laws of the Legislature of the State of Texas
  • 1855–71General Laws of the Legislature of the State of Texas
  • 1873–1925General Laws of the State of Texas

The general title of the second set was: Special Laws Passed by the Legislature of the State of Texas. This set also went through a series of name changes:

  • 1848–71: Special Laws of the Legislature of the State of Texas
  • 1873–1905Special Laws of the State of Texas
  • 1907–25Local and Special Laws of the State of Texas
General and Special Laws of the State of Texas

Electronic Access

The Annotated Texas Statutes and Codes are available on Westlaw and Lexis. Westlaw database Texas Historical Enacted Legislation (Session Laws) coverage goes back to 1987. Lexis database Texas Advance Legislative Service contains session laws back to 1987. Tarlton's Lexis and Westlaw subscriptions are limited to faculty, students, and staff. 

Nexis Uni (available to on-site patrons) includes Texas Statues & Codes Annotated, as well as Texas Local, State & Federal Court Rules and the Texas Constitution, among other helpful resources, such as bills and a session laws service. 

An unannotated version of the Texas Statutes and Codes is available from the state's Texas Constitution and Statutes website. For more information about how to find Texas legislative information for free online, visit Tarlton's guide, Texas Legal Research: Free Online Resources. The guide includes a section on Statute & Regulations and a one on the Legislative Branch. 

Related Guides

For information about Texas Legislative History research, view Tarlton's guide on the Texas legislative history research process and resources. 

For help finding statutes, including specific guidance on finding Texas statutes, view Tarlton's guide on finding a statute.