Need to track down an elusive Colorado legislative history document such as committee hearings, bills, or House / Senate Journals to help explain changes to a particular law? Locating state legislative materials is often a frustrating process.

In Colorado, there are no published legislative histories, and documents may not be available online or even in print depending on the age of the laws that you are researching.  Committee hearings and floor debates, for example, are only available as audio tapes starting in 1973, unless they have already been transcribed by the Colorado State Archives.

Converting these tapes from analog to digital recordings is available for a fee, but may take 3-4 months to complete. More recent hearings and floor sessions from 2012 to present are now available online through the Colorado General Assembly website. The Archives also has copies of bills from 1876, while House & Senate Journals are available back to 1861.

Besides tracking changes in laws over time, attorneys are often interested in legislative intent and are looking for any clues to help them understand or persuade a judge how specific laws should be applied and interpreted. It can be difficult to uncover legislative intent, particularly for older laws. More current Colorado statutes may include a section on intent or purpose.

Otherwise a researcher may need to look at various versions of a bill, discussions in committees, or try to contact the sponsor of the bill. Documents that are published at the same time as the law may provide some insight into legislative intent. Examples include newspaper articles, interviews articles in the Colorado Lawyer or research publications published by the Colorado Legislative Council.

Want more details on how we can help you identify historical changes in the law? See how we assisted one law firm track down 20 years of regulatory changes by using resources at the Colorado Supreme Court Law Library. Since the material was not indexed or digitized, we looked through print materials that had been updated 240 times during that time-frame in order to get the answer they needed.

With over 35 years of experience in legal research, Access/Information can go help you find the documents that you need.