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Massachusetts Legal Research

Massachusetts General Laws

  • Dates: Varies by source
  • Description: The state's statutory code is the Massachusetts General Laws. Text of official, i.e. unannotated, edition of the General Laws. The General Court web site contains the code and is current within 6 months; check session laws on same site for recent changes.

Annotated Versions of the Massachusetts General Laws

  • Dates: Varies by source
  • Access: Password required
  • Description:  Provides text of constitution, statutes and court rules with annotations supplied by publisher. Westlaw (filename MA-ST-ANN) provides current text of Massachusetts General Laws Annotated and archival coverage back to 1987 (filename MA-STANN-VERS). LexisNexis (filename MACODE) provides current text of Annotated Laws of Massachusetts which includes selected Special Laws; archival coverage for code (filename MAARCH) available back to 1992.

Session Laws

  • Dates: Varies by source
  • Access: Password required for LexisNexis, Westlaw
  • Description: State sessions laws, known as the Acts and Resolves, are the statutes enacted in each legislative session. General Court web site provides access to session laws dating back to 1997 session; LexisNexis (filename MAALS) contains session laws 1987 to present; Westlaw has access to current session laws (filename MA-LEGIS) as well as session laws 1987-2002 (filename MA-LEGIS-OLD).

Bill Tracking Information

  • Dates: Varies by source
  • Access: Password required for LexisNexis and Westlaw
  • Description:  Research bills considered by the state legislature, including full-text of bills and bill history information. General Court web site provides full-text of bills and links to bill history and sponsor information for current session only; LexisNexis (filename MABILL) provides bill text and history for current session only; Westlaw (filename MA-BILLS) has full text and tracking information for current session as well as archival coverage (filenames BILLTXT-OLD and BILLTRK-OLD) for legislation back to 1991.

General Court Procedural Records

  • Dates: Senate Journals 1998 to present; House Journals 2001 - present
  • Access: Password required for Westlaw
  • Description: The Massachusetts legislature, known as the General Court, is a bicameral legislature consisting of a Senate and a House of Representatives. The Journals provide a procedural record of which bills were introduced, amended or otherwise acted upon day-by-day. Journals do not contain debate notes, but do contain full text of amendments offered on the floor. Journal files available on Westlaw in filename MA-LH.

General Court Procedural Rules

General Court Session Broadcasts

  • Dates: Senate, January 1996 to present; House of Representatives, November 1984 to present
  • Description: Formal sessions of Senate and House proceedings are broadcast by a local public broadcasting station, WGBH. Videotape archives of these broadcasts are maintained by the State Library of Massachusetts; tapes may be viewed at the State Library.

Legislative Debate (Unofficial)

  • Dates: 1986-present
  • Access: Password required
  • Description: State House News Service is a private reporting service located in the Massachusetts State House. Access to reporters' coverage of all Senate and House debates from 1986 to present; reporters' articles on legislative public hearings from 1986 to present; and feature stories authored by News Service staff on political and policy issues, including Governor's Council activities. Press releases issued by individual legislators and which are distributed to the State House News Service are included from 1998 to present.