Drafting records are written materials, letters, and
memoranda given to or created by the legislative drafting attorney in
the process of drafting a bill, resolution, or subsequent amendments.
Although these records are not designed to document legislative intent,
they may provide some insight into the meaning of statutory language.
Contents of drafting records - may contain some or all of the following:
The enrolled act (adopted act) if it passed
The original proposal (bill) as introduced in Senate or Assembly
Amendments and substitute amendments to the bill in order of their introduction
The fiscal estimate of the law's impact on state revenues and expenses
The drafting request and instructions from the legislator(s) to the Legislative Reference Bureau drafting attorney
The proposal (bill) as drafted by the LRB drafting attorney
Committee Record if proposal was referred to committee. (Contains voting records and list of persons appearing before committee - does not include committee deliberations or testimony)
Locating drafting records:
Determine the session year in which the legislation (act, bill, or resolution) was introduced, then locate the drafting records for that year.
If the proposal passed (became an act), the drafting record will be filed under the act or chapter number. (Prior to 1983 session laws were called chapters)
If the proposal did not pass, the drafting record will be filed under the bill or resolution number.
AB = Assembly Bill
AA = Assembly Amendment
ASA = Assembly Substitute Amendment
AR = Assembly Resolution
AJR = Assembly Joint Resolution
SB = Senate Bill
SA = Senate Amendment
SSA = Senate Substitute Amendment
SR = Senate Resolution
SJR = Senate Joint Resolution
The Legislative Reference Bureau assigns a unique number to each legislative document, such as 99-1281. The first part of the number refers to the legislative session (99). The second part (1281) is the sequential number assigned to each document introduced that session. The LRB number may also include an extension that indicates the type of document
df: Drafting file. (Contains the entire contents of the drafting file that reflects the author's work and documents used as research or other items of direct relevance to the way or reason that the legislation was drafted.)
dn: Drafter's Note. (Document prepared by the drafter for the requester to describe special circumstances regarding the draft, such as opinions of the draft's constitutionality or other informative or cautionary comments.)
en: The Enrolled version of a bill.
fe: The Fiscal Estimate for a bill. "fe" abbreviation is followed by:
- an identifier for the agency generating the Fiscal Estimate
- a final code describing the nature of the Fiscal Estimate: org is original, upd is updated, sup is supplemental and cor is corrected.
For more details about drafting records and other sources of legislative history, see:
Researching Legislative History in Wisconsin by Michael J. Keane, Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau, Wisconsin Brief 06-10
Researching the Legislative History of Wisconsin Laws: An Annotated Bibliography by Bill Ebbott, UW Law Library
The Wisconsin Legislative Drafting Records database is generated from scanned images created for by the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau. The UW Law Library has made these electronic records freely available from our Web site.
Quick guide prepared by Bonnie Shucha
UW Madison Law Library
Last updated March 2008