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Legal Research for UIUC Students (Non-Law): Statutory Law

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Introduction to Statutory Law

Statutory laws are the written laws that are passed by legislative bodies.

In most jurisdictions in the United States, a law starts out as a bill proposed by a member of a legislature. Once proposed, a bill may go through several rounds of committee discussion, rewrites, hearings, debates and votes. All of this material forms the law's 'legislative history' and may be useful when researching the history and purpose of a particular law.

If a bill makes it through the entire process and is passed by the legislature and approved by the executive branch, the bill becomes a law. These laws are usually published individually as they are passed. In many jurisdictions, laws are also organized into "codes" that set out all the laws of a jurisdiction by subject.