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Legislative History in Virginia

Provides resources that can be used to track pending legislation, discover the intent behind a bill, and trace the history of changes to a law

Legislative Draft Files

The Division of Legislative Services creates a legislative draft file for each bill. The file contains the bill request, background information justifying the proposal of the bill, copies with the drafting changes, and any correspondence between the drafting attorney and the legislator. Access to these files (1962– ) is controlled by the Legislative Reference Center of the Division of Legislative Services.

In the past, files created after 1989 were open to the public if the legislation was enacted. Effective July 1, 2017, the Code of Virginia (30-28.18 [B]) was amended to state that legislative draft files are the property of the owner and are to be released only with the specific approval of the owner.

To obtain the contents of a legislative draft file, email your request (including Code section, bill number, chapter number, and year) to Lily Jones at ljones@dls.virginia.gov. A “request for release” form will be sent to the owner of the draft file and the Division of Legislative Services will inform you if the owner has granted permission to release the file. If the owner is deceased, the file is retained by the Division of Legislative Services. To access the file, the requestor must obtain permission from the owner’s next of kin. For additional information, please contact the Legislative Reference Center: 804.698.1888.