Hawaiʻi Legislative History Research

Legislative history is defined in Black’s Law Dictionary, 10th ed. (2009) as “The proceedings leading to the enactment of a statute, including hearings, committee reports, and floor debates.” Such history is important in determining the legislative intent of a particular statute. Below are the steps and helpful tips to assist in the legislative history research process for Hawaiʻi law. For a visual demonstration, please visit our instructional video page on the topic.

Research Steps
  1. Find the Hawaiʻi statutory provision you wish to research.
    Hawai‘i Revised Statutes
    is the state’s compilation of general and permanent laws. The current edition includes: volume 1 (2009), volume 2 (2012), volume 3 (2011), volume 4 (2017), volume 5 (2020), volume 6 (2022), volume 7 (2015), volume 8 (2004), volume 9 (2019), volume 10 (2013), volume 11 (2008), volume 12 (2018), volume 13 (2016), Volume 14 (2014), Index (1996), Special Pamphlet-Tables of Disposition (2014) and the latest annual cumulative supplement. Use the index to find the relevant law.
  2. Identify the act and the year when the pertinent language was adopted.
    The bracketed source note at the end of a statute indicates the enabling/amending acts and *each compilation where the statute may be found.
    L_ _ _ _ = year law enacted
    am L_ _ _ _ = year law amended
    c = Act
    am = amended
    CC = Civil Code
    PC = Penal Code
    RL = Revised Laws of Hawaii (1905, 1915, 1925, 1935*, 1945, 1955; *1935 may omit reference to previous compilations of a statute if no amendment occurred after the original enactment/last amendment/last compilation)
    HRS = Hawai‘i Revised Statutes (1968, 1976, 1985, 1993, and by Supplement)
  3. Locate the Act.
    Go to the Session Laws of Hawaii volume for the year when the act was passed. Acts are arranged in numerical order and will cite to a House Bill (HB) or Senate Bill (SB). From 1935-1953, check the table of contents for the page number of each act. An act may have a preamble which states purpose of the act.
  4. Track the history of the bill through enactment.
    After locating the bill no., go to both the House Journal and Senate Journal. At the back are tables, at times, labeled as History of Bills. Check each of the pages cited alongside the bill no. to find action on the bill. Among those pages will be the text of committee reports or references to the report no. For before 1951 in the House Journal and before 1955 in the Senate Journal, the text of the reports may be included in the daily proceedings. Review all relevant reports for stated intent/purpose. At a minimum, there will be one House and one Senate standing committee report. The other cited pages may include floor remarks, and references to special reports and testimony.

Tips/Finding aids for locating legislative committee reports.

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