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Texas Legislative History Research

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


Committee, or public, hearings and floor debates are not included in the bill file. Transcripts are typically not available, but recordings (whether audio or video) may be. If tracking legislation during a session currently underway, be aware that bills can be scheduled for a hearing with relatively short notice.

To locate recordings of hearings, look for:

  • Bill history/“Actions” tab:
    • Names of the House and Senate committees the bill was referred to
    • Dates the committees considered the bill in public hearing
  • Bill file/“Text” tab includes accompanying Witness Lists

To locate recordings of debates, look for dates of the second and third readings in the House and Senate listed in Bill history/“Actions” tab.

Bill histories are available on the TLO website from 1989 (71st Session) to the present. Check the Legislative Reference Library of Texas website for older bill histories from 1973 to 1989. For histories before 1973, use the House and Senate Journals.

Additional context for hearings:

When locating hearing recordings, it may also be helpful to look at corresponding Witness Lists and public comments, if any, submitted via the House online portal. For Witness Lists, look at the Bill file/"Text" tab. 

Public comments are relatively new. In 2021* for the 87th R.S., the Texas House launched an online portal for the public to submit written comments for a hearing; there is nothing analogous for the Senate. These public comments are available via TLO, the Texas House of Representatives, and LRL sites.

  • On the TLO site, there are two options:
    • After looking up an individual bill, click the "Text" tab and look at the bottom for "Additional Documents: House Public Comments"
    • Texas House > Committee Meetings > "Meetings for Date" OR "Meetings for Committee" > "Comments" available on far right, alongside "Hearing Notice," etc.
  • On the House site > Committees > Previous Committee Schedules (Notices, Minutes, Handouts and Witness Lists) > Choose relevant session > Choose relevant committee
  • LRL > Committees > Meetings by date > Choose relevant date of hearing > Browse for relevant committee hearing > Click "Comments" (or "Handouts" for the 87th session)

N.B. Hearings are mandatory in the Senate for a bill to reach the floor, but not in the House.

* In 2020, during the 86th interim, the House issued requests for information on topics related to interim charges and allowed people to submit responses online


77th session (2001) – present: the Video/Audio section of the House website, includes, inter alia:

  • Live Broadcasts
  • Committee Broadcast Archives: You can also navigate navigate to an individual committee's website and then look for the "Broadcast Archives" quick link on the right.
  • Floor debates: "Chamber Archived Broadcasts"

1973–2001: Audio tapes may be obtained from the office below.

House Tapes from the 63rd Legislature (1973)–present are available at:
John H. Reagan Building, Room 330
105 W. 15th Street
Austin, Texas  78701
(512) 463-0920
(512) 463-5729 (fax)

Note: Requests must be made in advance, in writing.



Senate audio and video archives from March 1999–present are available from the Senate Media Video Archives. 

Audio from 62nd Legislature, 4th Called Session (1972) through 79th Legislature (2006) is available online from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission; work is ongoing to make more available. 

Hard Copies:

Senate tapes from the 62nd Legislature, 4th Called Session (1972) through the 79th Legislature (2006)
Available online from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. The Legislative Reference Library holds the original recordings. However, due to preservation concerns, patrons can no longer access the tapes. For more information, contact the Legislative Reference Library:

Legislative Reference Library
PO Box 12488
Austin, TX 78711-2488

Senate tapes from the 80th Legislature (2007) to present
Senate Staff Services, Sam Houston Building, Room 175
201 East 14th Street
Austin, Texas 78701
(512) 463-0430

Audio Recordings of Hearings & Debates

During the 63rd Legislative Session (1973), the Legislature began making audio recordings of public hearings held by committees and the floor debates in the House and the Senate. Because transcripts of committee meetings are seldom produced, recordings are often the best source of information on legislative intent. If any transcripts are available, which is rare, they will be housed with the tapes in the media offices.

To listen to or order these tapes, you will need the following from the bill history:

  • The names of the House and/or Senate committees to which the bill was referred,
  • The dates on which the bill was considered by committee or subcommittee in public hearings, and
  • The dates of the bill's second and third readings in the House and/or the Senate.

Formal meetings are not routinely audio taped, but you may contact House and Senate Media to determine if a tape of a formal meeting exists.

When reviewing recordings, it can be helpful to review committee meeting minutes (if you are interested in committee hearings) or House and Senate Journals (if you are interested in floor debates) to identify the relevant portion of the recording. Recent House and Senate video recordings of floor debates may also include helpful information in the chyron, such as bill number and amendment number. See Step 5: Other Documents for information about accessing committee minutes and journals.