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Wisconsin Legislative History: Drafting Records

Process for Researching and Compiling a Wisconsin Legislative History

Drafting Records

Drafting records are produced during the development of legislation and are regularly consulted in the study of legislative intent.

Drafting records are collections of written materials related to particular bills collected by the legislative drafting attorney assigned to each bill, resolution or act introduced since 1927. Drafting records may provide background information, including changes and notes, of bills as they passed through the legislative process.  The purpose for searching drafting records is to find a document or series of documents that provide background information, suggesting reasoning for a change, or, ideally, the intent of the legislature.

Acts or chapters are organized in the drafting records by session year and act (or chapter) number.  Following the acts or chapters, are the drafting records for bills that were not enacted.  These are organized by session year and bill number (e.g. 2007 SB ### or 2007 AB ###).  Drafting records may also be filed by Resolution number (e.g. 2007 SR ## or 2007 AR ##), Joint Resolution number (e.g. 2007 SJR ### or 2007 AJR ###),  or by Special Session (including bills, resolutions or joint resolutions within the special session).

Online drafting records for state budget acts are listed separately from the other acts.

In some cases the desired information in the drafting records can seem to be fairly sparse. In other instances it might seem to be overwhelming (for example budget bills can prove to be very tedious). In cases such as these, it may be beneficial to consult with a reference librarian, or contact the Legislative Reference Bureau directly. The LRB Library can be reached at 608-266-7040.


Drafting records may contain (usually in the following order)


  • The enrolled act (adopted act)
  • The original proposal (either the Senate or Assembly bill)
  • The fiscal estimate of the law's impact on state revenues and expenses (since 1957)
  • A brief Legislative Reference Bureau (LRB) analysis by the drafter (since 1967) or, if the bill originates from the Legislative or Judicial Council, an analysis from the committee of the council that prepared the bill
  • Amendments to the bill in order of their introduction
  • The drafting person's or group's request, and the drafting attorney's instructions and correspondence
  • The draft proposal (bill)
  • The Committee Report. The report records the date and vote on the recommendation to refer the bill to the legislature. There may be a record of hearings on the bill consisting of a list of those appearing or registering for or against the bill.


Finding Drafting Records


Locating drafting records from the current legislative session:


Locating drafting records from prior legislative sessions:


Helpful Hint

Bring a Flash Drive when coming to the Law Library to search microfiche.  You can download fiche images to a flash drive, and view them later on your computer.


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