Attorney and author Kathy Biehl practiced law privately in Houston, Texas for 18½ years before relocating to New York City in 1998. She has taught legal research and writing at the University of Houston Law Center and business law at Rice University. A member of the State Bar of Texas, she earned a B.A. with highest honors from Southern Methodist University and a J.D. with honors from the University of Texas School of Law, where she was a member of Texas Law Review and Order of the Coif. She is co-author of The Lawyer’s Guide to Internet Research (Scarecrow Press, Nov. 2000), with Tara Calishain.
Each edition of Research Roundup will pull together related, practical online services that take outstanding advantage of the convenience and efficiency of the Internet. Research Roundup kicks off with a look at intellectual property databases.
RoundUp#1: Searchable IP Databases
RoundUp#2 : Slip Opinions Listservers
RoundUp#3 : Bill Tracking Resources
RoundUp#4 : Business Filings Databases
RoundUp#5 : Federal/State/Territory Sites with Election Resources
RoundUp#6 : Searchable IP Databases – Updated
RoundUp#7 : Slip Opinions Listservers – Updated
An updated version of this article is available at http://www.llrx.com/columns/roundup13.htm. You will be automatically redirected to that page shortly.
Not long ago, tracking a bill in progress was the domain of lobbyists and specialists. The advent of legislature Websites has put bill tracking into the hands of anyone who’s interested.
For the federal government and every state, a trip to the legislature’s home page will provide the history, status, and at least a synopsis of an introduced bill. Almost all of these sites also provide the full text of bills, as well as committee and hearing schedules and other tools for keeping an eye on the development of pending legislation. Most of these sites are updated nightly. A few states offer subscriptions to a tracking service (such as Lobbyist-in-a-Box), which will follow particular bills or topics and issue e-mail alerts when activity occurs. In a couple of states, customizable bill-tracking features are available at no charge.
This edition of the Roundup updates all site descriptions to reflect current features, adds specialty sites devoted to specific areas of legislation, and catalogs commercial tracking services online. As always, I welcome notice of new or overlooked legislative tracking services at [email protected].
THOMAS: Legislative Information on the Internet
The Library of Congress’s server THOMAS is the premier online source of federal legislative history. A query box directly under the title allows searching the text of :bills in the current Congress by number, word, or phrase. Three other avenues of approach appear under the Legislation heading.
Bill Summary and Status allows browsing bills and amendments by public and private laws, vetoed bills, and sponsors. Search options include keyword, subject, bill or amendment number, stage in legislative process, date, sponsor, or committee. The database under this heading goes back to the 93rd Congress, which was in session from 1973-74.
Bill Text gives the full official text of bills beginning with the 101st Congress (1989-1990), searchable by word, phrase, or number. Public Laws by Law Number indexes the legislation of the 93rd Congress through the present.
Under the Congressional Record heading are links to the full text of the daily editions for the current and six prior Congresses. Routes for accessing the issues are many. You may search by keyword, congressperson’s name, or date. You may browse the issues via the publication’s index, which is arranged by topic (and goes back only to the 104th Congress). The topical index is also searchable by keyword. To dragnet for discussions of anti-trust policies, for example, you would type “anti-trust” in the query box, click on that phrase when it comes up in the index, then scroll through a list of links to Congressional Record articles in which the word appears. Also under this heading are Roll Call Votes, which chart the votes of each house from the 101st Congress on. For the Senate, this feature begins with the first session (1989), while the House tallies start with the second session (1990).
The Committee Information heading links to a database with the full text of all committee reports of the current and previous Congresses that were published by the :Government Printing Office, which are browsable sequentially and searchable by keyword, report and bill number, and committee. Other links under this heading jump to home pages of current ::congressional committees and hearings schedules of committees in both houses. Tabs at the top of the page lead to the current Senate schedule, as well as to what’s happening on the floor of the House of Representatives today and this week.
The House site has up-to-the-day status reports on bills and floor actions, floor and committee schedules, current floor activity, roll call votes, and Websites of members and committees.
The Senate offers much the same calendar, status, and contact information as the House page. The Senate page, however, allows keyword searches of its database.
The Library of Congress Information System maintains the legislative history of all bills introduced since 1973, with information updated every 48 hours. Access is by Telnet, which automatically launches when you press the link to connect. Before trying this system, read the user’s guide, prepared by Edward Herman of the Business and Government Documents Center, Lockwood Library, University at Buffalo. It lays out the commands that are necessary to navigate the system. (Note: I was unable to view the guide in Internet Explorer, but did read it in Netscape Navigator.)
Alabama Legislative Information System: The Alabama Legislature lists enrolled acts, posts bills, enrolled acts, and resolutions by session; and offers two search engines to retrieve documents from the latest legislative session.
Alaska Legislature Online: The Bill Action and Status Inquiry System (BASIS) offers the spectrum of information, including house and senate calendars, committee and public hearing schedules, bills in committee, and bill summaries organized by subject. Type a bill root into the search engine to retrieve its status and history. BASIS offers a Bill Tracking Management Facility, which requires an account.
Arizona Legislative Information System Online: Search current statutes and bills by keyword, bill number, or action; browse floor calendars, committee agendas, and session laws since 1995. Daily Posting Sheets are available from 1997 through the 1st Regular Session of the 45th Legislature, while Blue Sheets are online for the house and senate (currently from March 2 to June 20, 2000). Each chamber broadcasts proceedings (on the floor and in hearing rooms) live on the Web. Check each site for the schedule. Windows Media Player is required for viewing.
Arkansas General Assembly: The bill number is necessary to view its full text or status, or to download it in Word or Adobe Acrobat Reader format. There are search engines to retrieve bills by keyword or by primary sponsor; it’s also possible to view bills, resolutions, joint resolutions, or memorial resolutions by chamber. The site posts calendars for committee meetings and each chamber, details current activity, and lists bills filed on the current and previous days.
Official California Legislative Information: Bills, resolutions, and constitutional amendments are available here. The site posts daily updates of assembly and senate bills in progress, organized by bill number. Bills are also listed in the index. The search engine locates bills by number or keyword and limits searches by session and house of origin. The day’s calendar for each chamber is online. At the State Bar of California Sponsored Legislation Online Bill Tracking page, the State Bar Office of Governmental Affairs offers multiple routes to search and view bills that were sponsored by the board of governors, sections or conference of delegates, or are being followed by sections. Sort by the nature of the bill (amended, chaptered, enrolled, vetoed, etc.) or by the bar’s position (such as support, oppose, monitor, neutral). Display options include title, history, press releases, full digest and position. The California Seismic Safety Commission posts seismic-related bills it has proposed, as well as those on which it has taken a formal position. It also offers a bill-tracking report, currently dated October 2000. (Be forewarned: clicking on the link for this report will launch the Adobe Acrobat Reader. The site does not disclose that this will happen, nor that the reader is required.)
Colorado General Assembly: Each chamber posts the text, fiscal notes, and committee votes of bills and resolutions, which you do not read online but download in WordPerfect or Adobe Acrobat Reader format (depending on the file). Bills are listed by number under Status. Calendars and journals are also available. Take the link to 2001 Legislative Session Information to search by bill number. Each chamber offers live audio broadcasts (which require Windows Media Player) of proceedings on the floor and in specified committee rooms.
Connecticut General Assembly: The General Assembly has two pages, with vary slightly in scope of information. If you access the page through FindLaw’s state index or ConneCT (Connecticut’s home page) and use Netscape or an old version of Internet Explorer, you will be directed to http://www.cga.state.ct.us/default.htm. Here the General Assembly offers a full text search engine that targets a spectrum of some 30 legislative databases, including amendment, bill analyses, calendars, journals, and session transcripts. The Legislation Information page allows searching for bills, resolutions, and acts by number and keyword; the keyword search option covers 20 types of legislative databases.
If you use Internet Explorer 5, you will be directed to the URL in the heading for this section, which archives legislative information back to 1988. Users may personalize this page’s settings to display customized categories of information. The Bill Information utility here retrieves bills by title keyword; last action; introducing party, committee, or assemblyperson; or range of bill numbers. There is also a full text search engine with the same parameters as on the other version of the page.
Either version of the General Assembly home page offers the assembly’s schedule and committee information. Calendars, journals, lists of bills, and floor transcripts: are available for both houses, which offer streaming video of chamber proceedings, which use Windows Media Player. Senate agendas and house go lists are also online.
Delaware Legislative Information System: Search by bill number or key word. The page offers each house’s agenda, meeting notices, and ready list, as well as the house journal and roll call. Some committee information is available.
D.C. Council: Bills are listed by number here. The council calendar is also posted.
State of Florida Legislature: “Online Sunshine,” the legislature’s official guide, posts daily calendars and journals , indexes of bills by number, and a full text bill search engine, for both the house and senate. The Daily Bill Information “Citator” gives statistics, histories, sponsors, a listing of bills by subject, vetoes, and statute citations in all versions of pending or recently enacted legislation.
Georgia Legislature: Each house has an index of bills and resolutions in number sequence, as well as general, committee, and rules calendars. The search engine retrieves bills by number. Live RealAudio and Video broadcasts of proceedings are available. GeorgiaNet subscribers may use the Lobbyist in a Box feature, which monitors designated bills and sends status reports.
Hawaii State Legislature: You may retrieve bills, resolutions, and committee reports by number or keyword, or browse an index of the same documents. Indexes are also available of all bills that were introduced, passed, or vetoed in the current session. Orders of the day, referral sheets, action sheets, hearing notices, and bill packages are online, too.
Idaho Legislature: Find bills by running a keyword search, browsing the legislative topic index, or browsing the “Mini-Data” current status list. Historically, the page has had indexes of bills signed into law (including effective dates and chapter numbers) or vetoed, as well as committee and task force minutes; none were posted at my most recent visit. Both houses offer RealAudio broadcasts of floor debates and budget hearings.
Illinois General Assembly: Browse bills or resolutions by chamber and number, or search by bill number. Schedules, journals, rules, and debate transcripts are online for both chambers. The house also posts roll calls and offers live audio or video broadcasts. (Pressing a link for one does not lead to information or descriptions, but instead automatically launches the Windows Media Player.)
Indiana General Assembly: Search by bill number or keyword, or browse lists of enrolled acts, bills approved over the governor’s veto, resolutions, acts by legislator name, and fiscal impact statements. Resources include calendars and journals for each house, committee schedules, floor motions, and deadlines for legislative action. The calendar is also available for the interim (when the assembly has adjourned). A BillWatch service is available to Access Indiana Information Network subscribers.
Iowa General Assembly: Session information includes calendars and indexes of bills, resolutions, amendments and committee reports. If you know a document’s file number, you can pull it up with a search engine. A bill tracking system is available on written request; Windows Media Player broadcasts of floor debates are available when the assembly is in session.
Kansas Legislative Services: You can find the full text of bills by number or keyword or search for them by subject. There’s also an index of vetoed bills. The site has agendas and committee schedules for each house. When the legislature is in session, RealPlayer broadcasts are available of floor debates. Premium subscribers to the Information Network of Kansas have access to session laws, bill packets, and a bill-tracking service called Lobbyist-in-a-Box. Engines for retrieving bills by number, keyword or subject also appear at CyberSession a project of CJ Online and the Topeka Capital-Journal. This site links to the free services of the Information Network of Kansas.
Kentucky Legislature Legislation & Legislative Record: Look under Front Page Information for each session and house to browse lists (by bill number) of bills with two readings, laid on the clerk’s desk, laid on the table, or subject to proceedings. Other lists indicate bills by committee; in various stages of being passed, enrolled, or vetoed; or prefiled for the 2000 or 2002 session. A search engine is available for the 2000 legislative session; so is the weekly legislative calendar and interim meeting schedule.
Louisiana State Legislature: The legislature has four query boxes for each session. Retrieve instruments by number, legislator name, :number range, or keyword search. When the legislature is in session, the site has historically offered a list of vetoed bills, charts of correspondences between bill and act numbers, a subject index, calendars, journals, and archived broadcasts of committee meetings or house proceedings. Live RealPlayer broadcasts of committee proceedings are available. Sign up to receive e-mail notification of interim committee meetings.
Maine Legislature: The session information page (http://janus.state.me.us/legis/session/) provides a browsable list of bill titles and engines to search for bill text (by number or keyword) or status (by LD, LR, or paper number; subject; or committee, sponsor, or cosponsor name). Schedules are posted for public hearings and work sessions for committees, the house, and the senate. Journals and calendars are online for both chambers, as are bill summaries and fiscal bill summaries.
Maryland General Assembly: There is a search engine for retrieving information and status by bill number, but its results will contain a synopsis and not the necessarily the full text of the latest version. To retrieve the full text, take the Search link and check amendments, bill text, or fiscal notes. (Searching by chapter is available only for 1999-2000 legislation.) For the status (but not the text) of a bill or resolution, scan the indexes, which organize pending legislation by sponsor, subject, file code, or statute. Subscriptions are available for profile indexes of bills pertaining to designated interests and for up-to-the-minute updates. The site posts house and senate agendas, as well as committee and budget hearing schedules. Floor proceedings are broadcast live in RealAudio; previous broadcasts are archived.
The 182nd General Court of Massachusetts: This site allows retrieval of senate bills by number or keyword. The same options are available for searching bill history, which also covers house bills. There are lists of numbered matters by chamber (for which only a brief synopsis is given), as well as house, senate, and joint calendars and committee hearing schedules.
Michigan Legislature: The full text search engine covers all documents in the current legislative session. Other engines are available for specialized searches. One retrieves a bill, resolution, or sponsor by bill number or resolution letter; another retrieves pending legislation by categories of subjects. There are also browsable indexes of bills before each chamber, by number. Each of these options brings up the full text of the bill or resolution, its status, and the history of action that has been taken on it. The site also posts calendars and session schedules for each house, journals, and tables of public acts and compiled laws.
Minnesota State Legislature: Minnesota allows multiple routes for retrieving bills, such as bill or revisor number, keywords in the short or long description, authors, or statutory citation. Other resources include journals and committee schedules for both chambers, as well as Windows Media Player broadcasts of house proceedings.
Mississippi Legislature: The legislative calendar contains the timetable for processing legislation in the current session. The bill status system indexes bills (in full text) by committee and author. The legislative calendar and committee schedules are available for each house. Bill status system files come in HTML or Adobe Acrobat formats.
Missouri General Assembly: The bill tracking page supports searching for bills by number, sponsor or keyword. The page also indexes bills by subject. (The same retrieval capabilities are available on both the house and the senate home pages as well.) When the legislature is in session, the site broadcasts floor debate in RealAudio. For hearing schedules and journals, head to either the senate or the house of representatives’ site; each site posts this information for both chambers. Each house posts bill activity reports and statements of the day’s activity.
GLO & Associates has engines for retrieving calendar year 2000 house or senate bills by number, sponsor or keyword. The site is funded by the Committee to Elect George L. Oestreich.
Nebraska Unicameral: The session calendar and legislative journal are available as Adobe Acrobat documents. Bills and resolutions are retrievable by number or keyword. The New Bills link leads to one-line descriptions of new bills introduced, by date. The site offers live streaming video of Unicameral activity (using RealPlayer). Past broadcasts are archived.
Nevada State Legislature: The redesigned site arranges information by session. This ranges from lists of bills or resolutions by chamber, sponsor, or action to lists of legislation by effective date. The top page gives access to committee schedules and keyword search engines for bills (full text), committee minutes, and session journals. The site broadcasts committee meetings by RealAudio. A subscription-based bill-tracking program is now available.
New Hampshire General Court: The Quick Bill Search option retrieves information by bill or LSR number or keyword in the title. Take the advanced option to search by committee, session year, status in a chamber, originating body, or sponsor (among other choices). You can also retrieve a list of chaptered bills or bills introduced into each house. Calendars and journals are available for both the senate and the house of representatives.
New Jersey State Legislature: You may obtain the full text of bills by number, sponsor, subject, keyword, or committee. There is a thesaurus for determining the subject heading that would cover a particular type of bill. The current legislative calendar is available, as are transcriptions of public hearings.
New Mexico Legislature: The Bill Finder searches for bills, capital requests, memorials, or resolutions by number, chamber or keyword. Each chamber posts committee schedules and floor calendars. A list of floor votes is under News and Issues (look for Voting Record).
New York State Assembly Legislative Information System: The search engine uses the bill number or keywords and retrieves a summary, with a list of actions, when available; take the Text link to read a bill in its entirety. Calendars of bills and public hearings are posted. When the assembly is in session, the page broadcasts proceedings in RealAudio.
North Carolina General Assembly: Use the bill number to look up introduced or chaptered bills. You can also search their full text by keyword and limit the search to all ratified bills, ratified bills by chamber, or unratified bills by chamber. The bill inquiry system will search by any combination of bill or chapter number, chamber, committee, county, date of introduction or last action, short title, sponsor, status, or term word (part of a standard set of words used by the Legislative Library’s list; follow links to view the list). Interim, senate, and house calendars are available. The Assembly broadcasts proceedings before the house, senate, and finance and appropriations committees; Window Media Player is required.
North Dakota Legislative Branch: You may retrieve the full text of bills, resolutions, concurrent resolutions, and memorial resolutions through lists (arranged by number) or the topic index. Other postings include house and senate journals, legislative deadlines for the current session, and a table of effective dates. The North Dakota University System offers a subscription service with customized bill tracking and daily updated information. The North Dakota School Boards Association posts lists (and the text) of bills it is monitoring or supporting.
Ohio General Assembly: The top page offers query boxes for retrieving bills by number or keyword. The Search page will find bills by number; list them by sponsor; find bills, analyses, fiscal notes, or statutes by keyword; or list session laws, by session. The Legislative Service Commission’s bill analyses and status reports are available, as are the session calendar and two search engines for fiscal notes. The house and senate each post their calendar and committee schedule.
Oklahoma Legislative Information System: OLIS offers a large number of bill tracking status reports for both active and inactive measures, which you can set up by specific measure, subject, history of actions, citation, author, committee, step in the legislative process, conferee, or status in conference or GCCA. The text of measures is available in RTF files, which combine pending legislation that has been subject to the same action (for example, all introduced measures in a particular chamber). Both houses post their agendas and meeting notices.
Oregon State Legislature: You can search or browse the full text of bills or laws from the current or previous five sessions. There are also “amend and repeal” tables indicating affected revised civil statutes sections, tables of enacted measures, and an index of measures by topic. The site broadcasts chamber and committee proceedings with RealPlayer; previous broadcasts are archived. Committee schedules are available for both houses.
Pennsylvania General Assembly’s Electronic Bill Room: Retrieve information about bills and resolutions by number or keyword. All pending legislation is indexed by chamber and by topic. Take the Bill Tracking Reports link to generate lists of actions, bills and resolutions introduced, or new printers’ numbers of bills. Look under Session for house and senate schedules and calendars.
Rhode Island General Assembly: Retrieve the text of pending legislation by bill number, general law citation, or keyword, or by browsing a subject index. The search engine for bill status or history looks by report title, committee, subject, sponsor, number, or type of action. Other resources include journals and committee and floor calendars. The Law Revision Website lists all enacted or potential changes to the general laws, based on pending legislation.
South Carolina General Assembly State House Network: South Carolina has three search engines for bills. The full text option compares keywords against the text of bills; one uses the bill number (under Quick Search); and the key field option (also under Quick Search) searches by bill number, sponsor name, or committee. The search results include a list of all actions taken on a bill and link to all previous versions of it. The General Assembly offers a subscription service that sends e-mail notification when activity has occurred affecting designated bills. A new program, the Palm-Size State House, makes e-mail alerts, chamber schedules, and other information available to Palm Pilot users (Palm VII is required). The site posts the current week’s schedule for both the house and the senate. Both chambers broadcast their proceedings live; RealPlayer is required for viewing.
South Dakota Legislative Research Council: Use the Bill Directory link to find a bill, view a list of bills (which can be all in the current session or a list you have customized), or run a keyword search of the full text of all bills. Besides maintaining a subject index of bills, the site list the ones that have been signed or vetoed by the governor. The Hoghouse Report identifies bills whose text has been entirely changed. You can set up bill tracking lists from this page or use a free service called “My Legislative Research,” which allows users to customize the Legislative Research Council page. For calendars, journals, or committee agendas and minutes, press the Chamber or Committee icon.
Tennessee General Assembly: Locate the text of bills by browsing the filed bill index (which is organized by number and chamber), or by using the search engine, which recognizes either the bill number or keywords. There are lists of bills by effective date and also of chaptered bills. Each chamber posts its calendar and committee schedules on its home page.
Texas Legislature Online: If you know the bill number, use the Bill Information search engine to pull up the history, captions, actions, or text. Keyword searches are available for bill texts or analyses and fiscal notes; you can also retrieve bills by any combination of author, sponsor, committee, subject, and action. The amendments search engine recognizes chamber, author, bill number, reading, amendment type, action, and date or date range. House and senate calendars and committee schedules are online. Take the TLO Interactive link to view lists of bills by date of filing, author, subject, or committee. Use the Personal Bill List option to set up, at no charge, a tracking system for bills of your choice. Calendars and hearing schedules are posted here for both houses. TLO Interactive also offers live and archived RealPlayer video broadcasts of house, senate, and committee proceedings. The Texas Probate Website, monitors bills in both houses that affect probate and trust law. The site host is the Austin firm of Barnes & Karisch, P. C. The Texas Telephone Association maintains a spreadsheet of bills of critical interest or major concern to the telecommunications industry.
Utah State Legislature: There is a separate page for each session of the legislature (including special ones) dating back to 1997; look under Archives. The current session page has lists of bills that were passed or introduced (categorized by number, subject, or sponsor. Previous session pages offer engines to search the status or text of bills, the database of passed bills, and journals.
Vermont Legislature: The Legislative Bill Tracking System offers multiple means of access to bills and resolutions. One search engine recognizes sponsor names or keywords, another uses the measure’s number to pull up its current status, and a third locates them by affected VSA section. Reports are available of almost every imaginable categorization, such as introduced, passed by one chamber, passed by both chambers, enacted, in committee, or with recent activity. There are also browsable lists and full-text search engines on Legislative Documents page, which posts searchable calendars and journals as well. The legislature’s top page posts the week’s committee meeting schedule and selected meeting minutes.
Virginia General Assembly Legislative Information System: The system offers both a subject index and a searchable database of bills and resolutions. Multiple retrieval options are available for checking on status, including (but by no means limited to) bill number, committee, date of introduction, house of passage, and legislation that has been vetoed or carried over to the next session. The site also posts a meeting schedule and daily floor calendars. A subscription bill tracking service called Lobbyist-in-a-Box is available.
Washington State Legislature: The search engine is the easiest way to access the text of bills. The topical index gives bill numbers and telegraphic synopses, but does not provide or link to the text or history. The Daily Status Report lists all bills in numerical order and gives their current status; like the topical index, this is one long text document without an external links or internal jumps. There are several tables of correspondences between legislation and the code; one highlights sections affected by new legislation. The Legislative Info link (from the legislature home page) contains calendars for the session, meeting schedules for both houses, and lists of legislation sponsored by each member.
West Virginia Legislature: The Bill Tracking link allows you to search, browse, or download bills, abstracts, and resolutions. It also offers many avenues to browse status information (look for Bill Status on the WEB), such as by committee, sponsor, subject, or affected code section. The Bulletin Board contains committee schedules, session calendars, and a search engine for locating bills introduced on a specific date. Enrolled bills appear under Acts of the Legislature.
Wisconsin Legislature: The proposal number and session date are necessary to obtain the text and history of legislation under the Bills & Resolution link. A subject index offers another way to locate the full text of a proposal. A keyword search engine is available for enrolled bills. Other resources include a session schedule, weekly committee schedules, and daily floor calendars for each chamber. The InSession page for each chamber reports the current item and question of debate, updated every 10 seconds. When the legislature is in session, this page provides audio broadcasts of floor activity, which require either RealAudio or Windows Media Player. The assembly also offers live video broadcasts using RealPlayer or Windows Media Player.
Wyoming State Legislature: The Bill Information page contains lists of bills (introduced) by chamber, by title, by sponsor name, and by subject. At the start of the 2001 session, the only route to the full text of a bill was the introduced list. Daily actions appear by bill number under Daily Bill Status (also called the purple sheet). The legislative schedule is available by month.
Federal and State
GalleyWatch.com: Geared to the lobbyist, GalleryWatch offer customizable tracking systems for federal, Texas or New Mexico legislation and agency activity. Besides searchable databases of bills in progress, the system provides committee, floor activity, and member staff reports; e-mail or paging notification of committee actions and other events; tracking of statutes affected by pending legislation; and campaign contribution information.
Lexis: Lexis offers several routes to follow legislation in progress on both the federal and state level. The Get a Document feature retrieves the full text of a bill, but requires the bill number to do it. Without the bill number, use the full text of bills search engine. Once the full text is retrieved, it’s possible to follow links in it to related news stories (when available) and to bill tracking reports, which chronicle the action that has been taken; on the federal level this feature may contain committee reports and other types of legislative history as well. Bill tracking reports are also directly accessible within the Legislative Materials section of each jurisdiction. Access to these features for a particular jurisdiction depends on the scope of the subscription.
LoisLaw.com: Loislaw.com subscribers may set up the LOIS LawWatch feature to e-mail notice of legislative acts (and other developments) in areas selected by the user. (Alternatively, this feature saves the updates on the user’s personal Loislaw.com start page.)
Westlaw: Westlaw has two searchable database options for federal bill tracking. US-billtrk is provided by Information for Public Affairs, while Cong-billtrk uses Library of Congress data with West Group editorial comments. To track state legislation, either enter the multi-state searchable database St-billtrk, which accesses all 50 states simultaneously, or type the jurisdiction’s postal abbreviation and “-billtrk”. A regular Westlaw subscription allows access to each of these databases, although there will be billing for use; users of specialized, flat-fee plans will not have access to them.
Congressional Quarterly’s On Congress: This federal legislative tracking service offers a variety of features (such as alerts or vote analysis) that subscribers may tailor to their needs or interests. Among the bill-tracking tools are CQ BillTrack, which provides detailed bill histories, updated daily and including links to related bills; CQ BillWatch, which analyzes major bills in progress; CQ Votes, which breaks down every floor vote by member, party affiliation and other criteria; and customized vote analyses.
Ohio Chamber of Commerce: Chamber members may retrieve the full text and analyses of state bills affecting business. The SmartAgent Tracker reports on selected bill activity by e-mail.
SGAIS Bill Tracking Software (Connecticut): This software program uses an Internet connection for creating legislation tracking lists and bill reports, searching legislation, and setting up e-mail alerts of action on bills being tracked.
State Capital Information Service (Illinois): Products include an online bill-tracking system (updated at least daily during sessions), daily reports of legislative activity, and twice-weekly reports of the governor’s actions.
©Kathy Biehl 2001. All Rights Reserved. Portions of this column are excerpted from the Lawyer’s Guide to Internet Research (Scarecrow Press), by Kathy Biehl and Tara Calishain.