While researchers will use similar sources to conduct bill tracking and legislative history, these two functions are employed at different times in the research process, and for opposite reasons. Researchers conducting bill tracking are concerned with the status of a current piece of legislation, while researchers conducting legislative history are concerned with the history and documents surrounding an enacted piece of legislation.
Bill tracking consists of following the status of a current bill as it makes its way through the legislative process. A researcher conducting bill tracking will want to know the bill's current progress, the likelihood of enactment, and ascertain how the proposed law would affect laws currently in force. In a sense, bill tracking is the reverse of legislative history.
By its very nature, researchers engaging in bill tracking will want to utilize online sources to stay abreast of a bill's progress through the legislative process. There are several online sources researchers can use to conduct bill tracking.
While bill tracking follows the legislative process from the introduction of a bill to its possible enactment, legislative history research works backwards, beginning with an enacted statute. Researchers conduct legislative history research in order to gain a better understanding of the law, as well as a means to determine the legislature's intent in enacting the law.
Legislative history materials in Georgia are divided into two categories: official and unofficial.
Versions of bills
Researchers can review bill versions to determine when language was added or removed during the legislative process.
Preamble to acts in Georgia Laws
While not the text of the law, the preamble at the beginning of an act in Georgia Laws can provide researchers with insight on the legislature's intent for passing the law.
House and Senate Journals
The Journals do not provide a verbatim account of proceedings on the floor of the House and Senate, but they do serve as the official record of proceedings in the General Assembly. The Journals contain information on events that occurred during a bills enactment, such as votes and committee assignments, as well as the text of floor amendments.
Review of Selected Georgia Legislation ("Peach Sheets")
The annual Peach Sheets issue, published by Georgia State University Law Review, is an excellent source of legislative history for Georgia statutory law. The Peach Sheets provide background on a bill's introduction, relevant information from floor debates, and public perceptions of the legislation during the bill's consideration in the General Assembly. The selected acts covered tend to be of great public interest, or have a significant impact on the practice of law. GSU Law Review first began publishing the Peach Sheets in 1985.
Annual Survey of Georgia Law
Mercer Law Review publishes the "Annual Survey of Georgia Law." While the Annual Survey focuses on case law, it also includes some commentary on significant legislative developments.
Georgia Legislative History Databases
Both Lexis Advance and WestlawNext have legislative history databases that contain materials useful for conducting legislative history research.
The following are the typical steps researchers should take when conducting legislative history research.