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North Dakota Legislative History: The Basics

A basic guide to locating legal research resources in North Dakota.

The Basics

Conducting a Legislative History on a North Dakota statute is a fairly straightforward process. The following is a list of items that are used in conducting a proper legislative history on a particular statute.

NORTH DAKOTA CENTURY CODE

The North Dakota Century Code (NDCC) is the compilation of state statutes passed by the legislature and signed by the governor. This is available online and in print at a variety of libraries throughout the state. The print version of the code is the only source that is annotated and has an index. Additional information is located on the paged linked from the North Dakota Century Code tab. 

SESSION LAWS

Session Laws, officially known as the Laws of North Dakota, is the complete set of laws passed during a particular legislative session. These are available in print and online from 1862 to 1888 for the Dakota Territory and from 1889 statehood to the present on the North Dakota Legislature website. Each Chapter represents a piece of legislation, the final version of each bill passed into law during the session, including new law and modifications of laws in effect prior to the beginning of the session. References to the origin of the bill (House or Senate) and sponsors are listed at the beginning of each chapter. Language added to the law during that session are underlined while language removed from a previous version of the statute are represented by a strike-through.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

Information obtained by accessing information in the NDCC and the Session Laws will provide guidance in locating the legislative history for a particular statute. A Legislative History is a collection of materials related to the passage of a particular bill. Information consists of committee hearings, amendments, voting, fiscal bills, presentations by supporters and opponents, etc,. Information in the form of downloadable pdfs are available online at the ND Legislature site. Previous years are available in microfiche in the UND Law Library or by contacting the ND Legislative Council.

ND LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL

The North Dakota Legislative Council provides research and other services to the ND Legislature. They prepare many of the first drafts of bills introduced at each legislative session. They also prepare a report to the legislature prior to the start of each session. Final Reports from 1947 to 2017 are available online.

INTERIM COMMITTEES

Between sessions, interim committees of the legislature meet on a regular basis. Information and minutes taken during these meetings is available online. These resources allow for additional insight into the legislative thinking during a session.

HOUSE AND SENATE JOURNALS

While the journals from both houses of the legislature do not provide much in the way of legislative history, they do contain information useful in researching. Amendments, records of floor votes, committee assignments and a variety of other information can assist the researcher in locating information. These resources are valuable in earlier legislative sessions.