Row of Kansas Reports

Kansas Legislative History Research Guide

Legislative history is the collection of documents from the legislative process leading up to the enactment of a bill. These documents can include the bill, any amendments, committee materials, floor discussions, testimony, and any other documents that are produced.

At the state level it is harder to find legislative history materials for two reasons; 1) often the documents just don’t exist, and 2) there is no single, easily accessible location for finding the documents that do exist. However, with a bit of creativity you may be able to something about legislative intent.  This guide will help you through the process.

Kansas Statutes Annotated

Researching Kansas legislative history should begin with the Kansas Statutes Annotated (KFK 30 .A2). At the end of each statutes in the Kansas Statutes Annotated (K.S.A.) there is a history section. The history of the statute lists the session law that created the statute and any subsequent session laws that amended the statute. The history section also lists the "source of prior law," which refers to any Kansas General Statutes that preceded the K.S.A. You may also want to note any law review articles or cases that are listed, as these may discuss legislative intent.

West's Kansas Statutes Annotated

Researching Kansas legislative history can also begin with West's Kansas Statutes Annotated. This version of the Kansas Satutes has been available since 2008. At the end of each statute is a section entitled Historical & Statutory Notes which lists the session laws that created the statute and any subsequent session laws that amended the statute. In this section you will also find a list of previous statute numbers and the "source of prior law."

Session Laws, Bills, and Journals

After finding the history of a statute in the Kansas Statutes Annotated the researcher should look at the bill in the Session Laws of Kansas. Each volume of the Session Laws contains bills passed during the legislative session of that year. Session laws are organized by year and chapter number.

From the session laws, researchers can see strike-outs, additions, and modifications to the statute. The researcher may gain some insight into the intent of the legislature. The other important piece of information the research obtains from the session law is the bill number. Bills can come from either the House (HB) or Senate (SB).

Using the bill numbers obtained from the session laws researchers should next look in the House or Senate Journals for the corresponding year. The House or Senate journal will indicate what committee the bill was referred to and it may contain the text of floor debates about the bill. Once the committee information is obtained the researcher can look for any committee documents that may contain legislative intent.  

Kansas Legislative Interim Studies

The Report on Kansas Legislative Interim Studies (KFK 20 .L4) is filed with the Legislative Coordinating Council each December and contains the reports of all Special Committees. These reports help identify major issues to be addressed in the upcoming legislative session. Washburn law library has copies from 1966-2006, as well as a "Subject Index for the report of Legislative Interim, Legislative Council and Special Legislative Committees". More recent versions of the Interim Studies can be found on the Kansas Legislative Research Department’s website.

Committee Minutes & Reports

Committee minutes contain a summary of statements by committee members, witness testimony, and written testimony. Often, the written testimony is complete and attached to the minutes. The quality of committee minutes may vary greatly. Minutes of committee hearings from 1970 (standing and interim committees, usually not conference committees), are available for inspection in the Department of Legislative Administrative Services (296-2391, 5th floor of Capitol, room 551-north).

Legislative Committee Information maintained by the Kansas Legislative Research Department.

Legislation in Progress

When researhing legislative history it is also important to know if there are current bills being considered in the legislature that may change the statute.

The cumulative and weekly Senate and House Actions Report and Subject Index Report (KFK 10.S36) The current issue is on reserve. A few recent yearly issues are at reference on the second floor. Older issues for each session, since 1982, are kept on the third floor in the Kansas Statute section. The most recent edition of the Senate and House Actions Report and Subject Index is available from the Kansas Legislature. 

Final issues for earlier years are available at the Kansas State Library (3rd floor of the Capitol) from 1976. The Kansas State Library also has bill locators for 1965-1975 that perform the same function as the final action reports.

The State Library provides up-to-the-minute bill status information each legislative session and can be contacted at 296-3296 in Topeka and at 1-800-432-3919 statewide.

Other Useful Publications

Legislative Procedure in Kansas, published by the Kansas Legislative Research Department, is a fairly detailed reference guide of legislative procedure.

Kansas Legislative Handbook (Ref. Desk KFK 421 .G68 year), published by the Government Research Service, contains current biographical sketches of each legislator, describes legislative organizations and procedure, provides directory information for legislative staff and support agencies, discusses lobbying, and contains a bibliography.

State Legislative Sourcebook: A Resource Guide to Legislative Information in the Fifty States (Ref. JK 2495. S689), published annually by Lynn Hellebust. Each state section contains entries on the state's legislative organization and process, information about individual legislators, and where to find legislative documents for the state.


Kansas Legislature: provides full text of bills, vetoed bills by the governor, bill tracking, bill subject index, bills in conference or by member, details of actions introduced by member/committee and all legislation introduced by member/committee. In addition, house and senate journals are including along with house and senate calendars.

Kansas Session Laws from 2011 to the present can be found on the Kansas Secretary of State’s website.

Session Laws from 1997 to 2010 are on the Kansas Legislature’s website.

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