Step 6. Session Laws

Session laws are the laws of each annual session of the Legislature. In New York State new laws are called chapter laws, as federal laws are called public laws. Thus cite by year and chapter number.

Three consolidations of New York State session laws:

  1. Laws of New York (Albany: The New York State Legislative Bill Drafting Commission, 1777- ). Files in "LAW/NYS". The official publication. Contains the major budget bills not found in the two commercial compilations.
  2. McKinney's Session Laws of New York (St. Paul, MN: West Publishing Co., 1951- ). Interfiles with Laws of New York. Monthly updates: Session Law News.
  3. New York Consolidated Law Service (CLS) Session Laws (Rochester: Lawyers Cooperative Publishing, 1977- ). Interfiles with Laws of New York.

The McKinney's and CLS session laws contain memoranda of the Legislature and the Governor, as well as the reports of the Chief Administrator of the Courts and the Law Revision Commission.

Recent amendments to a session law:

  1. McKinney's Session Law News of New York. Files in LAW/NYS at end of Laws of New York. Tables arranged by topic and section.
  2. Legislative Retrieval System. The LRS database is available at any Internet computer in the Computer/Internet Sign-Up area at the Library. Browse by chapter or search laws by keyword.
  3. Senate Home Page. Click on "Bills and Laws."  The chapter number assigned to the revision is needed to search here.

Since some laws have been amended, it may be necessary to refer to an earlier version mentioned in the Historical Notes of the Consolidated Laws. The time when a specific word or phrase was first used can be determined, which will establish a specific time period for checking other sources of legislative history. So session laws are important in determining legislative intent because they indicate what words were added and what words were taken out. It may be necessary to consult all the session laws listed in the amendments to the consolidated laws, because it is often impossible to determine which session laws are pertinent to your history by simply examining the current consolidated laws.

Last Updated: April 6, 2011