What is statutory history? What is its significance to the practice of law? Statutory history refers to the various versions of a law and amendments made to it.

Courts usually determine intent from statutory language alone, but Ohio law authorizes them to consider "other matters" if the statute is considered ambiguous. Other matters include: circumstances under which the statute was enacted; the legislative history of the enactment; and the common law or statutory provisions, including law on the same or similar subjects.

Documenting statutory history for Ohio statutes may seem daunting, but the Law Library has the required resources. First, examine the annotations in either version of the Ohio Revised Code, paying particular attention to the section entitled, "Historical and Statutory Notes, in Baldwin’s Ohio Revised Code, "History" in Page’s. In Baldwin’s, the historical references are sometimes found in parentheses immediately after the text of the statute. To ensure thorough research, one should consult both Baldwin’s and Page’s, as differences in the historical treatment may be significant. Second, carefully examine all historical references—statute, bill, and date—found within the historical section. Three variant citation forms are used for bill references:

  • 125 v 887: Laws of Ohio, volume 125, page 887;
  • 1972 H 494: Laws of Ohio, enacted in 1972, House bill 494; and
  • 138 v S 645: Laws of Ohio, volume 138, Senate bill 645.

Finally, consult the referenced statutes.

The Laws of Ohio is the official publication for the enactments of the Ohio General Assembly and the only official source of statutory law in Ohio. This work is published at the end of each biennial session of the General Assembly. Senate bills are printed first, followed by the House bills, all in numerical order, not in the order enacted. Baldwin’s Ohio Legislative Service and Page’s Ohio Revised Code Annotated Bulletin supplement the respective ORC and are current sources of session laws and affected code; they also contain bill status sheets.

Researchers may also use a number of online resources for recent Ohio statutory history. Both Westlaw (www.westlaw.com) and Lexis (www.lexis.com) offer access to a few superceded versions of the Ohio Revised Code, and access to electronic versions of the Ohio Legislative Service (Westlaw) and the Advance Legislative Service (Lexis). Library Association members may use both services on Law Library computers and pay only for printing.

A fourth resource is Ohio Capitol Connection (www.ohcapcon.com), a fee-based service that provides the status of pending legislation and session laws since 1989. Library Association members have access to Capitol Connection on the computers in the Law Library. A researcher may also access the Ohio Legislative Service Commission (LSC) Bill Analyses from the Capitol Connection web page. Another useful web page is that of the Ohio General Assembly www.legislature.state.oh.us), offering a searchable database of session laws since the 121st General Assembly (1995).

To determine the legislative history of a recent statute, the General Assembly’s website provides electronic access to the LSC Bill Analyses. The Laws of Ohio citation includes, or enables one to determine, the bill number needed to locate the Bill Analysis. The LSC Bill Analyses provide a detailed and narrative description of bill considered and passed by the Ohio General Assembly since 1961. The analyses are written when the bill first goes to the committee, and are revised as the bill changes during the legislative process. The analyses are more understandable than the bill text because they are more condensed, written as narratives, and are organized topically with the key provisions appearing at the beginning of the document. LSC’s website allows access to bills, 1997 to present. Westlaw and Lexis also provide bill tracking which are useful for recent legislative research.

The LSC also publishes the Digest of Enactments (called Summary of Enactments prior to 1995), an annual synopsis of legislation passed in a each session. This work contains such information as bill numbers, sponsors, effective dates, affected statute sections, and the general purpose of a bill’s provisions. These are available in the Law Library Ohio Reference Area.

Had you noticed...?  In order to inform you of the Cincinnati Law Library’s holdings, this column will feature brief reviews of new, important or under-utilized publications.


The Law Library has the resources to research statutory history for all 50 states, and the District of Columbia. Please check the catalog for holdings (https://lawlibrary.hamiltoncountyohio.gov). The library also maintains all 50 state codes and digests; however, a continuing low level of funding has forced us to cancel Advance Legislative Service for states other than Ohio. If you regularly use the ALS and would like to comment on the cancellation, please email Billie Grey (bgrey@cmsmail.hamilton-co.org). The statutes for all 50 states as well as the digest or jurisprudence sets will be maintained.

State Statutes:

  • 50 state statutes maintained in paper, located in the State Room of the library.
  • 50 state superceded statutes, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico maintained in microfiche, beginning circa 1930 to present.

State Session Laws:

  • 50 state session laws from the 1970s to present in microfiche.

Lexis-Nexis & Westlaw:

  • All 50 state statutes and session laws are available on both of the online services. However, coverage is not uniform, so check the database coverage.

Using library resources, there are at least four ways to retrieve the text of a statute as originally enacted. For example, a Connecticut Statute, "Grass clippings prohibited from disposal at resources recovery facilities or solid waste facilities," § 22a-208v, Connecticut General Statutes Annotated. The history is parenthetically listed at the end of the code section: "1997, P.A. 97-102, § 1; 1998, P.A. 98-99, § 3."

  1. Retrieve the bill (1997, P.A. 97-102) from the session law microfiche. One would locate the correct year, and then the P.A. 97-102 number.
  2. Retrieve § 22a-208v as it read in 1997 from the code on microfiche.
  3. On Lexis, using the "CT-General Statutes of Connecticut 1997" database, enter the search term "22a-208v" to retrieve the 1997 version.
  4. Using Westlaw, locate the 1997 version by accessing the CT-LEGIS-OLD database.

Having access to state session laws as well as the older state codes is an important resource for large research projects. Outside the issuing state, these materials are available in microfiche format and online availability is not comprehensive. The Law Library has nearly new microfiche machines which are reliable, and user-friendly. The reference staff is available and ready to assist members in their research.

The library also has resources to track current Ohio legislation and recently enacted statutes. Members have access via the internet to Ohio Capitol Connection, Westlaw, Lexis and the General Assembly website. Gongwer News Service and the Ohio State Bar Association Report (OHBAR) provide brief summaries of legislation.


How did section 5101:1-30-63 of the Ohio Administrative Code read in 1995? This appears to be difficult to determine because even the largest of law libraries usually do not retain superceded copies of the OAC. The solution to this quandary is quite simple--the researcher need look no further than the Ohio Monthly Record.

According to Ohio Revised Code § 103.05, the OAC is to be updated at least monthly, and these revisions compiled into the Code at least annually. Before such revisions are incorporated into the Code, they are first printed in the Ohio Monthly Record. The OMR is the official publication for state rule making and contains the full final text.

To navigate the OMR, one must use the "Rule Number Table." New rules and regulations are compiled in two binder sets spanning July of one year to June of the next. The first binder contains the text of the rules; the second contains tables, and lists, including the Rule Number Table. Reference is made from the table to the month in which the new rule was printed. A subject index is available at the end of each issue. Both Lexis and Westlaw provide information regarding new regulations, but only a summary.

Not only does a researcher need familiarity with the OMR, but also has to know how to read the "History" section attached to an OAC regulation. For example, a regulation that was amended in January 1992 will have the following three-part citation: 1991-92 OMR 1397. 1991-92 is the year of amendment and the Ohio Monthly Record volume to consult, and 1397 refers to the page number. With this information a researcher can locate the earlier text of an amended or repealed ORC regulation.

Totidem Verbis ?

You do not examine legislation in the light of the benefits it will convey if properly administered, but in the light of the wrongs it would do and the harms it would cause if improperly administered.

Lyndon B. Johnson