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George W. Hopper Law Library|College of Law

Finding Bills and Laws

Federal Bills and Laws in Paper

Bills proposed to the United States Congress are available in several formats. The Law Library has them on microfiche and in hardcopy in the basement.  A more complete historical collection is available online from UW Libraries' Articles Database web page in ProQuest Congressional. 

If you look up a title in our online catalog you may find a shelving location listed.  These codes indicate the floor (M=Main, B=Basement and S=Second), the direction (E=East, W=West, S=South, N=North and C=Center) and the range number where the item is located.  The United States Code Annotated, for example, is shelved at M-C-7.  You would find this on the Main floor, in the Center of the room, beginning on range 7.

Bills passed by Congress and signed by the President are first officially printed as "slip laws" identified by their public law number, e.g. P.L. 105-30 (that is, the 30th public law passed by the 105th Congress). After each session of Congress, the slip laws are bound in public law order and published as United States Statutes at Large. A commercially published set, United States Code Congressional and Administrative News [USCCAN] (M-N-11) contains the same laws and is published in a more timely manner than the Statutes at Large, though it only goes back to the mid 1900's. In addition, USCCAN contains some legislative history documents for important statutes, which the Statutes at Large lack.

In order to find the current language of the law one must use a compilation of statutes in force. For the federal government this compilation is the United States Code. The corresponding commercially published versions of the U.S. Code-the United States Code Annotated (M-C-7) and the United States Code Service (M-C-5) are more current and provide references to judicial decisions that interpret the statutes as well as other research references.

Most of our federal document collection is arranged in the basement according to its Superintendent of Documents (SuDocs) number.

Wyoming Bills and Laws in Paper

Bills introduced into the Wyoming legislature for the current year are available electronically at the Legislative Service Office web site.

After Wyoming bills are passed by the legislature and are signed by the governor, they are known as enrolled acts. When published, they appear as Session Laws of Wyoming, organized by chapter number in the order in which they were passed.

Wyoming's official compilation of laws in force is the Wyoming Statutes Annotated (M-C-1 and on Reserve).  It is electronically accessible at the Legislative Service Office web site. This set is completely republished every two years and is updated between editions with a single volume supplement. 

There is also an unofficial compilation of Wyoming statutes,  West's Wyoming Statutes Annotated (M-C-1). Both compilations include court decisions that interpret the statutes.  They also have separate volumes of court rules that are located in Reserve at the Circulation Desk.

Online Resources

Federal


If you are affiliated with the university or are using a university computer, a complete historic collection of legislative materials can be accessed electronically through ProQuest Congressional.  At the Law Library's home page, select Databases, then ProQuest Congressional.

There are a number of excellent free sites available on the Internet for federal bills and statutes as well:

Congress.gov, the Library of Congress Legislative Server, at  is highly regarded. The collection of bills and legislative action dates back to the 1980s for many of the resources.

FDsys (formerly GPO Access) maintains its own collection of materials produced during the legislative process. Many of the resources on these two sites duplicate each other, but they also access some specific materials that can very useful.

Cornell's Legal Information Institute and Findlaw are legal portals that collect links to federal materials.

 

State

Legislative resources from other states can be most directly accessed through Findlaw, State and local government.net and Cornell's Legal Information Institute.


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