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Pennsylvania Statutory Research: Long Explanation

This guide reviews the history and current status of the Pennsylvania statutory codification project, and lists electronic and print options for Pennsylvania statutory research.

Pennsylvania Statutory Codification Project: Past Events

1776

- Pennsylvania legislature starts passing laws

- Text of laws published sequentially in Laws of Pennsylvania session laws

- No official statutory code created

 

1811

- John Purdon publishes the first edition of Abridgement of Laws of Pennsylvania

- Arranges current statutes by subject

 

1932

- 14th edition of Purdon’s Abridgement of the Laws of Pennsylvania published

- Today’s Purdon’s Pennsylvania Statutes is a continuation of the structure used in this edition

- Sample citation: 29 P.S. § 31

- Never officially adopted by the Pennsylvania state legislature

 

1970

- Pennsylvania state legislature passes the “Commonwealth Documents Law” – starts official codification process of laws passed by state legislature

- Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes is the official statutory code of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

- Sample Citation: 34 Pa.C.S. § 2306

- Legislature starts moving statutes from the Pennsylvania Statutes to the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes

Pennsylvania Statutory Codification Project: Current Statuts

- State still in the process of moving statutes from the Pennsylvania Statutes to the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes

- 19 (26%) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes titles fully implemented

- 23 (31%) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes titles partially implemented

- 32 (43%) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes titles contain no statutes

- Some laws still found only in Pennsylvania Statutes

- To do a comprehensive search of Pennsylvania statutory law, you must search both the Pennsylvania Statutes and the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes

- Databases allow users to search Pennsylvania Statutes and the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes simultaneously

- Index from print Purdon’s Pennsylvania Statutes and Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Annotated and Westlaw will point you to correct statute

- Important to make sure that you are citing the correct resource

- Ex: cite 29 P.S. § 31, NOT 29 Pa. C.S.A. § 31