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Law and Legislation: PA Statutes

Pennsylvania statutes

The Pennsylvania General Assembly passes statutes that become law.

Once a statute becomes law, it will appear in different forms over time, which affects how you are able to find, read, and engage with the content.

Publication process for statutes

  • Slip Laws are the first publication of a newly enacted law, and they are numbered and arranged chronologically
  • At the end of a congressional session, slip laws are bound in chronological order to create a collection of Session Laws
  • General and permanent statutes are eventually added to the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes and Purdon's Pennsylvania Statutes where they are organized by topic instead of chronology
  • We subscribe to the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Annotated and the Pennsylvania Statutes Annotated through Westlaw, which are unofficial codes but contain useful annotations and research notes that direct you to other relevant statutes, case law, regulations, and secondary sources

Finding Pennsylvania statutes

Slip Laws

Search by legislation enacted

You can find slip laws by searching the Pennsylvania General Assembly's Bills and Amendments page and using the option to search "by legislation enacted."

Session Laws

The Legislative Reference Bureau is in the process of preserving session laws and making them readily available online.

You'll find three major collections in various stages of completion at this point.

Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes and Purdon's Pennsylvania Statutes

Pennsylvania began codifying its session laws in 1970 and creating an official record called the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes (Pa.C.S.). This project still hasn't been completed. You can access the consolidated statutes as well as the unconsolidated statutes through the Pennsylvania General Assembly's website.

Legal professionals in Pennsylvania continue to use an unofficial, commercially produced codification of session laws called Purdon's Pennsylvania Statutes (P.S.) that groups statutes by topic instead of chronology. In 2007 the state negotiated a deal to make this unofficial consolidation of statutes freely available online.

When a statute is available through the Pa.C.S., you should refer to and cite that official version. If a statute is only available through the P.S. at this time, it's okay to cite that version instead of tracking down the appropriate session law or slip law.

Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Annotated and Pennsylvania Statutes Annotated

Both collections of annotated consolidated statutes are available through Westlaw.

Keep in mind that neither annotated code is is considered an official version of the law, but this is still the best place to begin your research because the annotations can point you toward other resources that will contribute to your understanding of the topic.