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Zimmerman's Research Guide


New York State - Legislative Branch - Statutes

Once a New York State bill is passed into law, it is called a "chapter law," a "session law" or, informally, a "statute" or "law." As discussed below, most New York laws are codified into the Consolidated Laws of New York, though some are left "Unconsolidated."

Chapter Laws: New chapter laws are posted on the Web site of the New York State Legislature shortly after they are passed. They are subsequently published in McKinney's Session Laws or CLS Session Laws. In addition, you can search or pull New York State laws from Lexis (NY;NYALS) or Westlaw (NY-LEGIS for the current year or NY-LEGIS-OLD back to 1987) or the Legislative Retrieval System (LRS).

You can get copies of older chapter laws from the New York County Lawyers' Association library, the library of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, any NY law school library or the New York Legislative Service . Members of the New York Law Institute can get copies for cheap - and even borrow back volumes of McKinney's Session Laws. If you have access, HeinOnline has New York session laws back to 1775.

Citations: New York chapter laws are identified by their year ("L") and Chapter Number ("C"). To get the Chapter Number for a recently enacted bill, call NY State Bill Tracking (800-342-9860), New York State Legislative Assistance (518-455-3216; I've found them very helpful) or the NYS Assembly's Public Information line (518-455-4218) or the NYS Senate's Public Information Division (518-455-3216 or -3200).

The Chapter Number and year is included in just about all published versions of New York legislation. However, if you know about a bill but can't identify it exactly, the New York Legislative Service will do the research and (if possible) give you the year and Chapter Number. You can then get a copy of the bill from them or one of the other sources listed above.

Codified Statutes: Most New York State laws are codified in McKinney's Consolidated Laws of New York Annotated ("McKinney's") and New York Consolidated Laws Service ("CLS"), which is also annotated. McKinney's is searchable Westlaw (NY-ST, unannotated; NY-ST-ANN, annotated). CLS is searchable on Lexis (NY;CODE). Loislaw also offers a searchable, annotated New York Code.

An unannotated version of the New York Code is posted free on the Web by the New York Legislature. Commercial versions are available from Fastcase, VersusLaw, Lawprobe and the National Law Library. Lexis publishes an unannotated Code in print under the title, Gould's New York Consolidated Laws.

Historical editions versions of the NY Code are available on Lexis back to 1992 (CODES;NYxxxx or CODES;NYARCH for all available years) and on Westlaw back to 1987, except for 1988 (NY-STANNxx, with the xx's being the individual year). The New York State Library has digitized versions of the Code spanning 1802 to 1909. If you have access, HeinOnline has Code versions from roughly the same time period as the State Library, plus indexes going back to 1777. Alternatively, you can get copies from superseded McKinney's volumes from the NYCLA library and other large New York libraries; members can get copies cheap from the New York Law Institute.

You can Shepardize or KeyCite NY code sections, which will get you amendments to the sections as well as cases interpreting it.

Unconsolidated Laws: "Unconsolidiated" laws are legally binding but not codified, usually because they don't affect the whole state. Some are posted on the Internet by the New York State Legislature, some are published in the "Unconsolidated Laws" volumes at the end of McKinney's Consolidated Laws of New York Annotated, and I expect you can find them in McKinney's Session Laws, if you know the citation.

To see if an unconsolidated law has been amended, revoked, etc., try to find it in McKinney's Consolidated Laws of New York Annotated, which should give you the latest version with cites to prior history. For information on unconsolidated laws not in McKinney's, search Westlaw (NY-LEGIS-OLD) or call the NY Legislative Service.

You can use KeyCite to find materials citing an unconsolidated law. Shepard's indexes NY laws by only by code section, so you can't Shepardize unconsolidated laws.

For more information: See Gibson's New York Legal Research Guide 3d by William H. Manz for more information about the New York legislation and the New York legislative process.

See Also
Bill Jackets
New York State - Legislative Branch - Bills
New York State - Legislative History

For comments, questions and suggestions, email the author
Copyright 2015 Andrew Zimmerman