Researching North Carolina Session Laws

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Session laws are the laws passed by a session of a state’s legislature. Legislative sessions can be annual, biennial, special, extra—however often the state legislature decides to meet. Eventually the session laws end up under the appropriate topic (such as “Criminal Law” or “Motor Vehicles”) in a state’s statutes or code, but until then they can be found only by their session law number. In North Carolina that number looks like this: S.L. 2017-7, where “S.L.” (or sometimes “SL”) stands for session law, “2017” is the year the legislature passed the law, and “7” represents the seventh law passed in that year of the legislative session. S.L. 2017-8 would be the eighth law passed in 2017. And so on.


Before North Carolina session laws are available in print, they can be found online at the North Carolina General Assembly page: Click on “Session Laws” underneath the Shortcuts list on the far right of the North Carolina General Assembly home page and that will take you to the most recent laws passed in North Carolina’s legislature. These laws will be listed by session law number, and you will have a choice of clicking on the link to the bill (begun in the state House or Senate) that initiated the law, or to an HTML, RTF, or PDF copy of the law itself.


North Carolina session laws are published in print two ways. They’ll first appear in red or pale green pamphlet form at the end of the set of North Carolina General Statutes. The red pamphlets are the Advance Legislative Service and contain the session laws themselves. The pale green pamphlets are the Advance Annotation Service and include any annotations (that is, case notes) about the new laws.


The second way North Carolina session laws are published is in book form, usually containing a whole legislative session. These books are located on the 4th floor of the law library, but you can see examples of them online, at the North Carolina General Assembly session laws page: Click on “Session Laws 2001–2017 (as published in the bound Session Law volumes)” and you will be taken to a page that has PDFs of several years of North Carolina’s session law volumes.


If you are interested in finding session laws in other states, HeinOnline has a great database called Session Laws Library that includes the session laws of all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. In some cases, North Carolina being one of them, session laws on this database go back to the period the state was just a colony, long before the Revolutionary War, Articles of Confederation, and U.S. Constitution.
Posted by Nick Sexton on Thu. November 1, 2018 12:29 PM
Categories: Uncategorized

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