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United States Legal Research Guide: State Legislation

Surveys of State Laws

Surveys of state laws are comparisons of legislation across various states on selected topics.  Use the following online resources for state surveys:

Books on State Legislation

Introduction to State Legislation

State legislation is similar in form and process to federal legislation. Statutes are passed by the legislature in each of the fifty states.  Although the names of the session laws and the chronological numbering system for statutes may vary from state-to-state, the process remains similiar to those of the federal laws.  The current codifcation of the laws of each state can generally be found on each state legislature's website.

Consult the section T1 of Bluebook: A Uniform Book of Legal Citation to find the names of the session laws, code and annotated code/s for each state and which, if any, have been designated as official. Section T1 also indicates the names of each state's administrative law titles, which are usually known as codes and registers.

Annotated State Statutes

State statutes appear in two versions: unannotated and annotated.  The unannotated version is the official version and should be cited whenever possible.  The annotated version, however, is where most researchers begin, because it includes references to related statutes sections, constitutional provisions, regulations, cases, commentary and secondary sources.  Annotated codes are usually prepared by commercial publishers and are available for most states from Lexis and Westlaw International.

Unannotated State Statutes

Unannotated codes are often freely available from each state legislature's website.  Find a state legislature by conducting a Google search or use one of the following websites to access state legislature information: