Skip to main content

Iowa Legislative History: Step 4: Bill Versions (Bill Book)

Step 4: Review Bill Versions, Explanations, & Fiscal Notes

The changes made to a bill's language during the legislative process can shed light on intent. Use the file number noted at the top of the act to:

  • see how the bill changed from introduction to enrollment
  • read the explanation that appears at the end of the bill as introduced
  • review the fiscal note, if applicable

If the bill was originally a study bill, also look at that file.

For the past several decades, bills that modify a current code section indicate how the section is to be changed via special formatting. Underlining indicates new text; strikeouts indicate deleted text. If entirely new sections are being added, just the words New Subsection will be underlined.

Use the bill books to access this information.


Bill Explanations

In Iowa, legislators request a bill be drafted by the Legislative Services Agency (formerly the Legislative Services Bureau).  Bill explanations started being selectively attached to the end of the original bill in the 1940's. They are currently required for most bills by Senate and House rules. Most explanations are fairly brief. Use the bill books to get to the explanation.

What The Bill Books Contain

Bill books include every version of the bill:

The bill as introduced, with an explanation included at the end of the bill text.

Amendments to the bill. Print, and some online, sources use the following color-coded system:

  • White - Bill as introduced
  • Blue - Senate amendment
  • Yellow - House amendment
  • Pink - Bill with amendments passed on it by originating chamber
  • Green - Senate study bill
  • Salmon - House study bill

Fiscal notes, if available. (These are attached to any legislation with a significant financial impact that is not an appropriations or ways-and-means bill.)

The enrolled version of the bill, if it passed.

Recent Enhancements

Through the online BillBook you can now also access additional information, such as lobbyist declarations and video of House and Senate floor debate.


See the following cases for examples of ways the court has used bill book information to interpret legislative intent:

How To Access Bill Books

Paper and PDF versions of a bill book will include bill versions and amendments in chronological order. To get different bill versions from a web-based bill book, click on the bill versions drop-down menu or click on print options and then select the bill version you want.

Other Bill Sources

Law Library Web Site · Locator Guide & Maps · Hours · Interlibrary Loan · Ask A Librarian

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