Teaching Legal Professionals How To Do Research
Teaching Legal Professionals How To Do Research

Home > Research Q and A > Tracking State Legislation

Tracking State Legislation

Question: A researcher in the insurance industry asked about finding sources that alert readers to pending or final state legislation. The writer wanted to customize the alerts to follow specific topics such as housing or mortgages, and was aware of a service called NetScan (a Thomson product). Readers Eric M. Kaufman, Head of Research Services at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, Sandra S. Stocks, Rural Representative, Northern Nevada at Thomson West and Joshua Jones, Reference Librarian at Cooley Godward LLP responded.

Eric Kaufman: I believe the legislative tracking service, StateNet, is best. It is based in Sacramento, CA and its customer service cannot be beat. StateNet offers customization, which lets you focus on any area of legislation. A subscriber may create specific searches, or ask a representative to do the work, and then sit back and receive daily e-mail reports.

Additionally, tracking new or pending legislation can also be accomplished using Westlaw's "WestClip" service or Lexis' "Eclipse" service. With Westlaw, use the St-Bills database.
This database contains status, summary and full text legislation in one fell swoop. Moreover, you may set up a WestClip that retrieves zero results. In other words, if you want to track or watch something that is developing, rather than being currently available, you can do it with WestClip.

With Lexis, you would have to utilize two separate databases to accomplish the same thing. STTRCK for bill tracking doesn't contain the full text of bills, so you would also have to use STTEXT. Because you would have to work with two separate databases, you would have to set up two different eclipses. Additionally, Lexis doesn't let you set up an eclipse
without retrieving results first.

Personally, I wouldn't use Lexis for this research. I believe full text is important. A bill's summary wouldn't necessarily contain the specific language you need (housing, mortgages), and you could miss important information without it.

Sandra Stocks: Researchers may be alerted to pending or final state legislation using Westlaw and a feature called StatutesPlus. In addition, you may analyze and interpret the pending legislation by reviewing the Text Amendments, Legislative History, Congressional Record (federal legislation) and Notes of Decision. You can go even one step further and post a KeyCite Alert, which will e-mail you every time a change has been made to a particular statute (final legislation).

Joshua Jones: The Law Librarians' Society of Washington, D.C. has a list of sources for state legislative research, which includes legislative tracking services. Most of these are for individual states, but several track legislative activity in all 50 states. See, for example:

-- Illumen (http://www.illumen.org/features.html#state-tracking)
-- MultiState Associates (http://www.multistate.com)
-- StateNet (http://www.statenet.com)
-- StateScape (http://www.statescape.com)
-- Stateside Associates (http://www.stateside.com/intelligence/state.shtml)

You can also use the State Bill Tracking service on LexisNexis or the NETSCAN LegAlert Library on Westlaw for this.



5-star rating in The Best (and Worst) Legal Sites on the Web

Copyright: 1996 - 2008 Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll, LLP all rights reserved. Select graphics copyrighted by Jupiterimages Corporation.

Disclaimer: The materials in The Virtual Chase® are informational and provided "as is" without express or implied warranty.


Created: 20 July 2005
URL: https://www.virtualchase.com/ask_answer/tracking_state_bills.html
Suggestions: Genie Tyburski, editor [at] virtualchase [dot] com