Overview of State Legislative Process
1. Bill drafting folders
All bills (and resolutions) introduced in the Wyoming Legislature are drafted by the Legislative Service Office (LSO) at the request of a
legislator or a legislative committee. When the LSO receives a bill request, a drafting file is opened. Research materials which are used in the
drafting of the bill are placed in the drafting file. Bill drafting files are maintained by the LSO and may contain useful information such as
background regarding the request for the bill, drafts leading up to the final introduced version of the bill, and model legislation that may have
been used by the drafter. The bill drafting file may also contain confidential materials which may not be available for public inspection.
The LSO (or state archives) has bill drafting files from 1977 to present. Assuming a bill was introduced, the drafting file related to the
bill can be made available for public review at the LSO office, subject to restrictions relating to confidential materials
(confidentiality can be waived by the legislative sponsor of the bill).
If the bill was sponsored by a legislative committee additional records are generally available. Often a committee will research a topic in depth
before sponsoring a bill. LSO maintains committee records from 1971 to present. The records generally consist of meeting minutes, material
submitted in support of, or opposition to, the bill, memoranda, correspondence and occasional formal staff reports.
2. Actions on bills approved for introduction
Once a bill is approved by its sponsor, it is assigned a bill number and, if approved in a timely fashion, may be prefiled before the
Legislature convenes. Paper copies of prefiled bills are sent to all legislators, district judges, county clerks and county libraries.
The Supreme Court Law Library has all numbered bills in bound volumes listed numerically by year. The LSO maintains paper copies of all
numbered bills from 1971 to present, indexed by subject, sponsor, bill number and various other ways. Bills approved for filing
from 2001 to the present are also available on the legislative website, http://legisweb.state.wy.us
- A. House and Senate Journals
The official record of action taken on legislation during the session by the House and Senate can be found in the House and Senate Journals.
While the Journals are not a verbatim record of the proceedings, they do contain:
- Names of bill sponsors and co-sponsors;
- Names of committees which considered the bill during the session;
- Dates of all actions taken;
- Text of all adopted and failed amendments;
- All roll call votes;
- On rare occasion, a legislator's statement read to the House or Senate regarding the intent or explanation of the bill, as understood by the legislator;
- Conference committee actions;
- Governor's action.
At the close of the legislative session, digests of the Journals are published in bound volumes entitled "Journal of the Senate" (or House) and
are available at the state and county libraries. The official journals are retained by the Secretary of State. Journal information for recent
sessions is also available on the legislative website.
The Wyoming House and Senate have recorded their floor proceedings for a number of years (Senate beginning in 1996, House in 1997).
A set of tapes or CD ROMs is transferred to the Secretary of State after the session and retained as a public record. The recordings are not
transcribed or indexed in detail, however, using the House or Senate Journal as a date reference, one may locate the appropriate recording to
listen to the floor debate on a given bill.
During the session standing committee proceedings are generally not recorded.
When the Legislature is in session, streaming audio of the live floor debate in the House and Senate can be accessed at the Legislature's website
referenced above. Archives of the audio files for recent sessions may be accessed on the Wyoming Legislature's
Both House and Senate rules specify that neither the recorded proceedings nor the live internet broadcast of floor proceedings shall be construed
to supersede the journal.
3. Bill jackets
Once a bill is enacted into law, the original bill and all amendments thereto, including failed amendments, are retained in a bill jacket which
is stored in the office of the Secretary of State for five years and are then sent to State Archives.
4. Session Laws of Wyoming
The final version of each bill enacted into law by the Legislature is published annually after each session in the
"Session Laws of Wyoming, 20__". Session Laws contain the entire enrolled act other than the signatures and certification. This includes the
text of the law enacted, showing changes to existing law in strike and underline format.
In many cases, a number of "noncodified" sections are found in the Session Laws but not in the "annotated statutes". "Noncodified" sections
generally include time limited information such as funds appropriated and other directions necessary to carry out the law and the date which
the new law will take effect. These are still part of the law but are not printed in the annotated statutes.
5. Wyoming Statutes Annotated
The official compilation of Wyoming's laws is a multi-volume set entitled "Wyoming Statutes Annotated" currently published by LexisNexis
Publishing under the supervision of the Legislative Service Office (LSO). This publication is prepared after each session and incorporates
legislation enacted that session. The entire set is replaced in odd numbered years and a supplement issued in even numbered years. In this
compilation, sections of law contained in the enrolled act are "split up" and inserted into appropriate places in the statutes. As noted above, the annotated statutes may not contain references to noncodified provisions contained in the enrolled act.
There is a list at the end of each section in the annotated statutes of all the Session Laws by which each section was initially enacted and
amended. Using that information, one can "work back" to locate the applicable bills. The annotated statutes also contain citations to
interpretive judicial decisions and, in some cases, other relevant material such as law review articles and legal periodical citations.
It should be noted that in case of a conflict or discrepancy in the wording of a statute, the enrolled act rather that the annotated statute is
6. Other Resources
Messages to the Legislature from the Governor often reflect relevant historical information. The Governor's address to the Legislature at the
beginning and end of each session may be found verbatim in the House and Senate Journals. The Governor's action in approving or vetoing a bill
constitutes part of the legislative process and may be a valuable source of legislative history. Messages approving or vetoing bills are filed
with the bill and may be retrieved from the Secretary of State's Office. The LSO also has veto messages from 1975 to present.
- B. Attorney General Opinions
Attorney General Opinions often provide an interpretation of a specific statute and, in doing so, may review legislative history.
- C. Law Review Articles and Court Opinions
In-depth analysis and legislative history of specific laws are often explored in law review articles published by the University of Wyoming
College of Law. Decisions rendered by a court of law interpreting a statute may review legislative history as well.
- D. Information from Individual legislators
It may also be helpful to directly contact the legislator who sponsored the bill. The legislator may provide helpful insight into his intent and
may have retained unique information relating to the bill.
- Newspaper accounts of a bill's progress may contain unofficial accounts of legislative floor debates and standing committee debates and testimony.
- A lobby group involved with the bill may have compiled information on the bill or a particular issue.
- Contacting the administrative agency charged with implementing and enforcing a law may be helpful as well since agency personnel may have testified before a legislative committee and the agency may have developed interpretive policies, procedures and rules.