Finding Texas Laws
Once a law is signed by the Governor, it is printed as an individual "slip law" and assigned a chronological chapter number. These chapters are reprinted in the General and Special Laws of Texas, also call the "Session Laws", which is published at the end of the legislative session. Each session law includes the official chapter number (used for citing the bill), the bill number, a subject-based caption, the section of Vernon's that the law amends, the text of the law, a vote tally, date of the governor's signature, and the effective date. The law is then codified by subject into Vernon's Texas Statutes and Codes Annotated, which, although privately published, is the official codification for Texas law. An online version of both the Vernon's Statutes and enrolled bills from the last three legislatures is available from the Texas Legislature Online.
How Do I Find Laws by Subject?
To find laws by subject, begin with either the Texas Code from LexisNexis or the Texas Statutes database from the Texas Legislature Online. Otherwise, the best place to begin is with the cumulative indexes to Vernon's Texas Statutes and Codes Annotated.
- LexisNexis Academic: State Codes: Texas (WTAMU only)
- Full-text of the Texas' Constitution, Statutes, and Codes from LexisNexis. Select from the Source list and search by text, cite, section or heading. Be sure to read the Search Tips before searching.
- Texas Legislature Online: Texas Statutes
- Full-text of all Texas statutes through the 81st regular session (2010). Browse by code section.
- Vernon's Texas Statutes and Codes Annotated
- KFT1230.5.V4 A32 (Reference)
- The full-text of the statutes, but with additional information in the form or annotations and case notes. The bound volumes are updated by annual cumulative pocket parts and quarterly pamphlet supplements. The subject index includes a table converting session law citations to code citations.
How Do I Find Laws by Number?
To find a law when you have only the bill number, you will need to determine the legislature and session during which the law passed. For recent legislation, you will need to use the Texas Legislature Online>. For laws from older legislatures, use the "Bills and Resolutions Approved" table of the appropriate Session Laws to refer you to the proper chapter. The chapter itself with refer you to the appropriate section of Vernon's as well. Alternatively you can use the cumulative Index volumes to Vernon's which has a table converting session law numbers to code sections.
- Texas Legislature Online: Bill Information and History, 1995 -
- Search for bills from the 74th legislature (1995) on. Choose the appropriate legislature, and then search by your bill number. Retrieves either the full-text of the bill, basic history, captions (a brief statement of the subject or intent of the bill), action (a sequential list of all legislative action on the bill), or a full history.
- Texas Laws and Resolutions Archive
- The Texas Laws and Resolutions Archive from the University of North Texas insures permanent storage and public access to the non-current electronic files of the Texas Laws and Resolutions, beginning with the 78th Legislative Session. Select a session and scroll by bill number. Adobe Acrobat reader required to view bills.
- General and Special Laws of the State of Texas, 1900 -
- S 1.5: (1990-1992 Texas Documents)
- L1800.4 G286 (1993-present Texas Documents)
- Indexed by subject, bill number, and code section affected. Includes proposed constitutional amendments and a list of bills and resolutions vetoed after adjournment. Only published after the session is over. Publishing tends to run about a year behind.
For More Information
- Researching Legislative History and Intent
- A step-by-step guide to doing legislative history research on Texas statutes and bills from Texas' Legislative Reference Library, the research and reference service of the Texas Legislature.
- Guide to Legislative Information
- prepared by the Research Staff of the Texas Legislative Council. Revised 1994. Austin, Tex. : Texas Legislative Council, 1992.
- L1400.8 G942L 1994 (Documents/Reference)
- Guide to Texas Legislative History
- by Paris Permenter and Susan Fischer Ratliff. Austin, Tex. : Legislative Reference Library, 1986.
- Y 1.2:8/G94 (Documents/Reference)
- Gammel's Laws of Texas
- H. P. N. Gammel's The Laws of Texas charts Texas law from colonization to statehood and reveals Texas's history during crucial times in its development.
Any questions? Ask a Librarian, or call us at 806/651-2205.