|Histories of bills from the 2005-2006 |
legislative session that were either sent
to a study order—a common way to
“kill a bill”—or on which no further
action was taken.
- Have there been any similar bills that were submitted and ultimately rejected in the past? Even though they might not be part of the direct history of the law you’re researching, they can provide a further backstory on how the law came to be, who was involved, and how it was treated in previous legislative sessions. It’s even possible that the text of a passed law wholly or partly derives from an earlier version that was rejected.
- If you do find earlier unsuccessful bills, were public hearings held and were the bills debated? Even though they were rejected, they still might have gone far enough through the legislative process that the House and Senate were given the opportunity to discuss them during floor sessions. Looking at the histories of these earlier unsuccessful bills will help determine how far they made it through the process.
- Are there any patterns? Did local and/or world events act as a catalyst for previous bill attempts? What are the differences between the law that passed and the previous rejected bills? Did the political climate change over time?
An easy way to find bills, passed and not passed, and other legislative documents is by searching the library’s DSpace online repository. Other materials not available online can be found in the library’s reading room in room 341 of the State House. In addition, the library’s website also provides helpful information on how to compile legislative histories in Massachusetts.
(1) Primary materials include, but are not limited to: legislative documents (bills, reports, communications), House and Senate Journals, and videos of hearings and floor debates (if available).
(2) Secondary materials include, but are not limited to: news and journal articles, outside commentary, and other unofficial publications that discuss the law or the general subject.