Tip of the Week: How to Search for a Law in the Session Laws – Using 4 Different Examples

Searching, Session Laws, Tip of the Week
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Searching for a Session Law within a specific state can vary depending upon which State you are researching.  The method used for organizing session laws is not uniform across all states, meaning some states organize their laws by Chapter, others by Act, others by a Public Law Number of the state, and so forth.  Therefore, it is important to understand how to search for a session law across a state using different search techniques.  This week’s tip will outline four examples across four different states, each illustrating a different method based on how the state publishes their laws.

Watch the Tip of the Week on YouTube, or continue reading below the video for the full-text version.

Before jumping into the search examples, it is important to point out, that if you have a specific year and page number for a State’s Session Law, then you can use the search tool located at the beginning of the state listing in the Session Laws Library.  To do so, select the state from the drop down, insert the year and page number and click search.

It is important to understand that chapter and act numbers start over with each new session, so it helps to have keywords or a year associated with the law you are searching for to narrow your search.  If you don’t know the year, you can use proximity searching with keywords to narrow your results.  Or, if you have the year and do not have keywords, you can use a date range to narrow your results.  Now let’s look at our search examples taking these two things into account. 

Example #1 – Massachusetts, Chap. #

Massachusetts organizes their laws by Chapters, but in the full-text of the published Session Law volumes they abbreviate Chapter to Chap.  For this example search for Chap. 87 – An Act Further Regulating the Reporting of Certain Cases of Child Abuse from 1984.  Go to the Field Search option from within the Session Laws Library.

Proximity Search With Keywords and Chapter Number (assumes we do not know the year):

In the first search box, select text from the drop down and insert the following into the search box  “Chap. 87 Child Abuse”~15.  Select Massachusetts from the Title Listing and click search.

 

Search by the Chapter Number and the Year:

In the first search box, select text from the drop down and insert the following into the search box  “Chap. 87”.  Select Massachusetts from the Title Listing, insert 1984 to 1984 in the date range fields and click search.

 Example #2 – Virginia, Chapter #

Virginia also organizes their laws by Chapters, but in the full-text of the published Session Law volumes they use the complete word Chapter vs. an abbreviation.  For this example search for Chapter 345 – An act to amend and reenact 24.2-706 of the Code of Virginia, relating to elections; absentee voting; response to applications from 2009.

Proximity Search With Keywords and Chapter Number (assumes we do not know the year):

In the first search box, select text from the drop down and insert the following into the search box  “Chapter 345 24.2-706”~20.  Select Virginia from the Title Listing and click search.

Search by the Chapter Number and the Year:

In the first search box, select text from the drop down and insert the following into the search box  “Chapter 345”.  Select Virginia from the Title Listing, insert 2009 to 2009 in the date range fields and click search.

Example #3 – Arkansas, Act #

Arkansas organizes their laws by Act numbers, so in the full-text of the published volumes they use “Act ##”.  For this example search for Act 53 – An Act to Permit the Acceleration of Income Tax Benefits for Charitable Cash Contributions for Relief of Indian Ocean Tsunami Victims, and for other purposes from 2005.

Proximity Search With Keywords and Chapter Number (assumes we do not know the year):

In the first search box, select text from the drop down and insert the following into the search box  “Act 53 Income Tax Tsunami”~25.  Select Arkansas from the Title Listing and click search.

Search by the Act Number and the Year:

In the first search box, select text from the drop down and insert the following into the search box  “Act 53″.  Select Arkansas from the Title Listing, insert 2005 to 2005 in the date range fields and click search.  

Example #4 – Indiana, P.L. ##

Indiana organizes their laws by public law numbers, so in the full-text of the published volumes they use “P.L. ##”.  For this example search for P.L. 63-2009 – amend the Indiana Code concerning public safety from 2009.

Search by the Public Law Number and the Year:

In the first search box, select text from the drop down and insert the following into the search box  “P.L. 63-2009″.  Select Indiana from the Title Listing, insert 2009 to 2009 in the date range fields and click search.

 

 

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