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North Carolina Legislative History

Research guide about resources and strategies for researching North Carolina legislative history.

A Note about Document Availability

Most of the resources cited in this research guide are available online or at UNC libraries. For titles available in print, library call numbers are linked to the UNC Libraries' online catalog. Some of the books referenced in this guide are only available at the Legislative Library in Raleigh.

Finding documents online: If you already know what documents you need to retrieve and are looking for an online source, the following websites have the most comprehensive collections of digitized NC legislative documents:

Background - Online Resources

The following resources provide background information on the legislature, legislative history research, and the law making process in North Carolina:

Article II: A Guide to the North Carolina Legislature: This resource contains snapshot information about members of the legislature, including biographical information, party affiliation, contact information, committee assignments and voting records. Each guide covers a specific legislative session. Guides from 1977-2016 are available online at the North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research.

How an Idea Becomes Law in North Carolina: This step-by-step guide outlines the process by which a bill becomes a law and is particularly helpful to review before diving into legislative history research. 

North Carolina Legislative Library Resources: The Legislative Library publishes a variety of resources to support legislative history research. Examples of these resources include:

The North Carolina General Assembly: Overview of the Structure, Legislation and Process of North Carolina's Legislature: This handout includes details on the structure of the General Assembly, types of statutes, types of acts and bills, local acts, and how a bill becomes a law.

Background - Print Resources

The following titles provide background information on the legislature, legislative history research, and the law making process in North Carolina:

North Carolina Legal Research (3rd ed.) (KFN7475 .C48 2019): This excellent book contains most of the legal and governmental information needed to research North Carolina law. Chapter four of this book covers North Carolina statutes, while chapter five covers legislative history and bill tracking.

North Carolina Manual (K4130 .N673): This manual contains historical data about North Carolina, biographical information about legislators, information about state agencies, the judiciary, and county officials, election statistics and other facts of general interest. It is available online through 2012 via the State Archives. The 2009-10 or 2011-12 versions are available via the North Carolina Secretary of State.

State Legislative Leadership, Committees, and Staff (JK2403 .B62): This resource contains information on committee objectives, committee leadership, and the individuals associated at the various levels of the legislative structure in each state, including North Carolina. The available years range from 1979-1994.

The General Assembly of North Carolina: A Handbook for Legislators (KFN7821.G46 1997): This handbook includes a chapter that details the steps by which an introduced bill becomes enacted law in North Carolina. This source also contains the rules and procedures of the state Senate and House of Representatives, as well as bibliographic references to other pertinent sources.