Tara Calishain is the co-author of Official Netscape Guide to Internet Research, 2nd Edition, and author or co-author of four other books. She is the owner of CopperSky Writing & Research.
In This Issue:
The Latest on Legal Research
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This is the last week of our grand tour around the US! Hey, I’ve had a blast doing it — thanks to everyone for their thoughts, comments, cool site suggestions, and — um — hysterical laughter at my typos. Keep those sites coming, and next week we’ll be back to our usual hodgepodge format.
Texas – http://www.state.tx.us
Texas is one of those rare states that has fans. Don’t get me wrong, I love North Carolina, but I don’t walk around in a t-shirt saying “Don’t Mess with North Carolina.” It might not fit and besides it doesn’t scan.
Texas is cognizant of this, and it shows in their Texas Information section at
http://www.state.tx.us/Texasinfo/ . Now, granted, you can get some very serious stuff here, including a link to the Texas Almanac (lots of demographic information), a meta-index of Texas information links, and information on Texas’ park areas. But you can also get links to screensavers and Texas buttons/icons (“Bar with Texas Wildflowers Punctuated by Cowboy Hat,”
Texas’ Criminal Justice and Law section is available at http://www.state.tx.us/Law/. The links to law resources, like the state law library, the Texas Statutes, administrative code, etc. are at the bottom of the page. The rest of the page is taken up with various materials, including a link to crime statistics, a missing persons clearinghouse, and even a link to a consumer complaint form.
If you’re involved in state government, you may want to check out Texas’ e-government initiatives at http://www.dir.state.tx.us/egov/. That site provides
both an overview of what they’re doing as well as some resources on e-government.
Utah – http://www.utah.gov/
The good folks in Utah must have better eyes than me. What teeny text! Luckily I’m using Opera and can bump the page up to 120% of original size. Ah, that’s better.
The front page of this site features a zipcode-based lookup of services in Utah. Entering 84102, which is Salt Lake City, provides you a list of online Salt Lake
County services, including jobs, animal services, and the option to pay parking tickets online.
Beneath that, there’s a pull-down menu to select another Utah city or town (from Bluffdale to Woods Cross) and underneath that is a list of popular services. I would annotate the list of county-specific services, but all- in-all this is a nice little feature.
Utah has a thorough licensing lookup feature at https://secure.e-utah.org/llv. You may search by personal name, business name, license number, or license type (types range from accountancy to veterinarian.) Search results include name, city, profession, license type, number, status, and a detail
button. Clicking a detail button provides you with some additional information, including zip code, issue and expiration date (if applicable), and reason for status change.
If you want more general business information on Utah, check out their business page at http://www.utah.gov/business.html, which provides business FAQs as well as law and regulation information.
Vermont – http://www.state.vt.us/
I don’t know if there is some kind of browser autodetect going on here, but Vermont’s home page is a text affair, largely free of graphics, and I love it.
Thank you Vermont.
The Vermont Legislature page, at http://www.leg.state.vt.us/, is a bit fancier. From here you can search for bills (and get legislation reports sliced several different ways), get committee meeting information, get text of bills and other legislative documents, and even find out how to be a 2002 Legislative Page (that’s human page, not Web page.)
The Judiciary has its own domain name; it’s available at http://www.vermontjudiciary.org/homepage.htm. From here you can get information on representing yourself in a Vermont Court, get court forms, check court calendars, and get information on attorneys (there’s a link for an attorney database but it doesn’t appear to be online yet.)
The materials for the legal “layman” and the legal professional are pretty well mixed together here, but the layout is simple enough that you can probably find what you want.
Virginia – http://www.state.va.us
Just slightly south of Vermont — oh, okay, REALLY south of Vermont — there’s Virginia. Its home page is a lot different from Vermont’s, too; lots of graphics
Check out the Virginia Information Providers Network at http://www.vipnet.org/portal/aboutvipnet/aboutvipnet.htm. Here you’ll find annotated links to Virginia- relevant sites and services in such categories as
government, and family & education.
If you want to learn all about Virginia, consult http://www.vipnet.org/portal/virginia/index.htm. You’ll get pointers to state facts and symbols (a state DOG? Really?) history, flora, fauna, and governors (who
would count as fauna, I suppose.)
If you’re more interested in legislative resources, check out the Code of Virginia page at http://www.vipnet.org/portal/government/code.htm. Here you’ll find links to the Code of Virginia, a subject index of bills, resolutions, and documents, and several ways to get state employee information. And if you can’t find what you’re looking for here, there’s always the state Web site list at
Washington – http://access.wa.gov/
My, what a colorful page! And instead of a picture of the governor there’s a cartoon of George Washington. All right.
You don’t have to leave the front page to find great material here. Just look in the middle of the page under the “Spotlight on Service” header. There you’ll
find, among other things, a link to a contractor database (searchable in several different ways), commuting and travel information, and a link to Washington’s unclaimed property database.
That’s not to say that there isn’t worthwhile material elsewhere on the site. For example, There’s the alphabetical directory of state agencies at
http://access.wa.gov/government/awstate.asp. Those agencies without Web sites have contact phone numbers (excellent!) And if you want more constant contact with Washington government issues and concerns, check out the incredible set of mailing lists available at http://listserv.wa.gov/archives/uselist.html. What a great idea! Well done Washington.
For more finding fun check out Find-It at http://find-it.wa.gov/compass. You can search by Washington-relevant information by keyword or specify different categories and subcategories (or search within categories and subcategories.)
West Virginia – http://www.state.wv.us/
West Virginia has chosen “put as much as possible on the front page” option for their Web site designed. It’s organized into categories so it’s simple to
You can get a good taste for the wide variety of materials available on this page by viewing their archives for the site of the month at
http://www.state.wv.us/prevmonth.htm. Here you’ll see information on governmental sites to university sites to sites about West Virginia public broadcasting. They’re nicely annotated, too.
The West Virginia Economic Development site is at http://www.wvdo.org/. This site has its own database page at http://www.wvdo.org/bot.cfm. Here you can find databases for industrial parks, businesses, and county demographic data. Plenty to see here.
The West Virginia Legislature is at http://www.legis.state.wv.us/. A frame on the left provides extensive navigation on everything from the Senate to search engines and e-mail.
Wisconsin – http://www.wisconsin.gov/
Another colorful, well-organized site. Unfortunately I can’t provide URLs for this state because they’re all about 200 characters long, so just sing along with me.
Choose Licensing and Permitting from the front page. There are several information options here, including the ability to search for licensed professionals. A business professional search allows you to search categories from aesthetician to registered interior designers. Information includes when the license was granted, the current status, and whether the licensee has ever been reprimanded. This is one of the most thorough licensing databases I’ve seen in surveying the states.
Back to the home page. Choose the Directories link. You’ll get an excellent list of directories available on the site, including a local court directory, public and private school directories, and several directories from the University of Wisconsin system.
Wyoming – http://www.state.wy.us/
Whew. Wyoming. Almost finished. ‘Scuse me for a minute. I need to catch my breath. Phew. Okay.
Now. Wyoming! Check out their wood-paneled buttons and the business page at http://www.state.wy.us/business.html. Information you’ll find here includes an economic forecast report, corporate information (including access to a corporate database), and a virtual tour of Wyoming (completely with some really nicely-done maps.)
The government page, at http://www.state.wy.us/government.html, offers pull-down menus for various levels of government as well as detailed and general lists of government services. The secretary of state’s site has an excellent government directory (http://soswy.state.wy.us/director/dir-toc.htm)
which includes contact information for all branches of government as well as county officials and tribal councils. Nice Web site directory, too!
Whew! See you next week.