State Librarian Charles Hoadly to the state legislature’s Appropriations Committee, February 19, 1889:
"The appropriation that we ask for is precisely the same that it was two years ago. The salary of the Librarian is $1800 a year, or for the two years $3600. Estimate for purchase of books for two years $2000 or $1000 for each year".
The figures may have changed dramatically, but the process remains the same – the State Librarian still must justify expenditures to the Appropriations Committee each year. This piece of Connecticut's history, demonstrating quite literally our motto of “Land of Steady Habits”, has been preserved as part of the State Library’s invaluable collection of legislative history. Public hearings held by some legislative committees were transcribed and recorded as far back as 1889, providing an illuminating glimpse into the workings of the state legislature and its executive agencies. Everything from uniforms for the Governor’s Horse Guards to payments for dependent and neglected children to holding dairy institutes to educate new farmers was discussed and debated by the Committee members. They invited agency representatives and the general public to join in the debate, making sure all voices had a chance to be heard. This process holds to this very day, when only the method and extent of recording the hearings has changed to take advantage of the latest technology.
Today, the State Library maintains this collection of legislative hearings and proceedings of the state House and Senate, adding some 40,000 to 60,000 pages of transcripts for each legislative session. The collection is used daily by law clerks, judges, attorneys, lobbyists, and historical researchers interested in knowing what was said about particular bills and topics. The transcripts serve as primary evidence of legislative intent. They are used by lawyers to persuade the court to rule in their clients’ favor, and used by judges to discern the proper interpretation of statutes.
A complete set of legislative history documents for a given bill or act consists of three parts: committee public hearing, House Proceedings, and Senate Proceedings. The Connecticut General Assembly first mandated that such complete transcripts be recorded in 1953. Hearings for bills earlier than 1953 are dependent on the committee.
State Library staff read all the hearings and proceedings each session, just as they have since the earliest days, and index them by bill number, making corrections and notations where necessary to identify the proper reference. Legal and historical researchers can easily find the exact passages discussing the bills they are following.
CONNector, July, 2007