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Basic Legal Research

This guide will provide basic legal information that can be found in the NMSU Library and elsewhere on the internet.

Finding Bills and Other Congressional Documents

A Bill is introduced to the Senate or House and creates new laws, repeals old ones, or amends existing laws.  Concurrent bills of the same legislation can be introduced to both Chambers. To obtain a copy of a Bill, go to

  • The Library of Congress is also where you can find Slip Laws, which is how the bill is sent to the President.
  • Contact your Congressperson or Senator.

Congressional Document is a publication of the Full Chamber containing special reports from executive agencies, presidential messages, etc.

Records of Committee Actions include:

  • Reports, which are publications detailing a committee's discussion and recommendations on a particular bill. 
  • Hearings contain the trainscript of committee testimony such as witnesses' oral and written statements, question and answer sessions, and related reports and exhibits.  
  • Prints are general publications that may contain draft legislation, historical information about a topic, statistics, or situation reports.
  • These are also available at the Library of Congress.

Floor Actions are transcripts of remarks from the floor of either Chamber.  Any member of Congress may "re-do" their remarks for final versions.  These can be found at the Library of Congress page.

Finding Federal Statutes

The Statutes at Large are the text of Federal Laws as they are passed.  They are arranged by Public Law Number (essentially chronological) and there is no subject index.

Federal Statutes at Large in the NMSU Library:

Finding Current Laws by Topic

Federal laws currently in effect are found in the U.S. Code., arranged by topic.  The Code is only updated every six years, so for more updated information see Lexis Nexis Academic or Westlaw.  These will include any cases associated with a statute.

U.S. Code in the NMSU Library: