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Iowa Legal Research: Sources of Iowa Law: Constitution and Statutes

Constitution

A constitution establishes the system of government and governmental authority. All other sources of law, such as statutes, court opinions, and regulations must comply with the constitution.

The current Iowa Constitution was adopted in 1857 and has since been amended 46 times.

Citators

Citators help you determine whether a law is still valid.

Check a particular Iowa Constitution provision, code section, session law, or county and city ordinance to see if it was cited in reported decisions of the Iowa and federal courts, Iowa Attorney General Opinions, legal periodicals and texts, annotations and the laws of Iowa.

LexisNexis offers Shepard's online, and Westlaw offers a similar service called KeyCite.

Other Research Guides and Aids

Newly Enacted Bills

The first version of a newly enacted Iowa statute can be found on the legislative website. Enrolled bills show the language as passed by both chambers and are sent to the Governor to be signed. Note that if these are vetoed, they do not become law unless the veto is over-ridden. Note, too, that most laws have a later effective date than the date of passage (typically July 1st in Iowa).

Looking at new laws in enrolled bill form is primarily useful in research when you need to look at a very recent law, not yet available in other forms, or if you are looking at legislative history and want to see the bill book information.

ONLINE LOCATION:

Session Laws

After an Iowa General Assembly session, all enacted laws are published in the order in which they passed as "session laws" in Acts and Joint Resolutions of the General Assembly. All laws of both permanent and temporary nature, as well as joint resolutions, are published in these volumes.

Session laws are typically consulted in research if the law has not yet been codified, when you are tracing the history of a statutory provision, and if you need to see a single law in its entirety.

ONLINE AND PRINT LOCATIONS:

Codes

The Code of Iowa (Legislative Services Agency) is the official compilation of all the general and permanent laws of Iowa. It is organized into subjects arranged by chapter number. The first Iowa Code was published in 1851. Codes are currently published biennially in odd-numbered years. The 1979 - 2011 codes were kept up to date by a print supplement issued in even-numbered years. Starting with the 2013 Code, that supplement is no longer available in print but integrated into a PDF version of the code, available from the Iowa General Assembly site.

Like the Code of Iowa, the Iowa Code Annotated (West) includes the text of the statutes. In addition, the Iowa Code Annotated offers extended references to the history of the statute, as well as law review commentaries, notes on decisions (references to court cases that have interpreted or construed the statute), cross references to related statutes, library references to secondary materials, and other helpful information. The Iowa Code Annotated is kept up to date by pocket parts and/or supplements and the Iowa Legislative Service (West).  

Codes are the most common starting point for statutory research since they integrate the provisions from multiple laws on a particular topic. Their wide variety of finding aids, from indexes to popular name tables, also make codes useful. 

ONLINE AND PRINT LOCATIONS:

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Drake University Law Library • 2507 University Ave. • Des Moines, Iowa 50311