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POL 341: Headrick: Websites

Tracking Legislation

TrackBill Legislative Tracker is an App for Android and IPhone: https://trackbill.com/

And the Congress phone app is also available for seeing latest bills and votes: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.sunlightlabs.android.congress&hl=en

Here is a helpful guide for tracking federal bills through Congress from the University of Washington Law School: https://lib.law.washington.edu/content/guides/FedBillTrack

Federal Bill Tracking Research Guide

Updated Aug. 7, 2015.
Prepared by Ingrid Mattson, Law Librarianship Intern; updated by Cheryl Nyberg (2015) and Heather Joy (2013).  From:  https://lib.law.washington.edu/content/guides/FedBillTrack

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The Daily Work of Congress

When Congress is in session, members of Congress introduce bills, hold committee meetings and hearings on those bills, and then vote on whether or not to enact the bills.

bill is a proposed law. When a bill is introduced in Congress, it is assigned a bill number and is either designated as H.R. (House of Representatives) or S. (Senate), depending on the House of Congress in which the bill originates. For example, the Brewers Excise and Economic Relief (BEER) Act began as S. 1111.

All of the documents that are produced relating to that bill between the time it is introduced and the time it becomes a law (if it becomes a law) is called “legislative history.” So, when you track a federal bill (i.e., keep apprised of when it is introduced, when congressional members debate or discuss it, and when/if it will be enacted), you are tracking legislative history in the making.

Need more information on the legislative process in Congress? Check out this series of short videos on Congress.gov.


Sources for Keeping Current

Information regarding the status of bills has essentially always existed—what has changed is how people find and access the information. Today, bill tracking has advanced dramatically, with lobbyists, lawyers, students, and researchers alike having access to the details of a bill’s status as well has being able to have those details and updates delivered to their email addresses as soon as they are available. While many resources noted below (e.g., the Congressional Record) can be found in print in the Gallagher Law Library, with bill tracking, the most current information (i.e., information you can find in online sources) is essential.

There are commercial (you have to pay for) sources - such as LegalTrac and LexisNexis, and Westlaw. But there are also free ways to do it. It just takes a little bit of work.  Here are some suggestions:

House of Representatives

The “Legislative Activity” box provides the schedule of hearings and committee meetings for the day, voting records for recently considered bills, and bill reports (including “Bills This Week” and “Bill Status”). Users can search by bill number or key word.

Senate website

Provides links to the schedule of hearings and committee meetings for the day. To track the status of a particular bill, select the link for “Active Legislation.” Bills are organized by popular name and subject. Though the tables that result include more information than simply the status of bills, a key at the bottom of the page identifies which bills did not pass, which are most currently being reviewed, and which affect currently enacted laws.

Congressional Record

The official record of the proceedings and debates of the United States Congress. Consists of four parts: the Daily Digest, the House section, the Senate section, and Extension of Remarks. The Daily Digest summarizes chamber actions (e.g., bills introduced), committee meetings, and joint meetings, while the House and Senate sections provide more lengthy details on any actions concerning bills.

The Congressional Record is searchable by performing an advanced search.

Congress.gov

One-stop shopping for finding essential bill tracking information. You can search the text of bills in the current Congress by number, word, or phrase. You can also view bills stage in the legislative process, bill sponsors, and votes. Floor activity for the previous legislative day as well as floor actions for the house on the current legislative day is also available.

GovTrack.us

A free website that aggregates data from official government websites and enables you to sort it and sign up for automated updates. The status and text of legislation typically delayed by approximately 24 hours.

GovTrack.us enables you to set up RSS feeds on bills by number and keyword, for recently active legislation, and for newly introduced bills. (Formerly OpenCongress.org)

Twitter

Members of Congress tweet and often provide up-to-the-minute updates. A directory of members of Congress who tweet can be found here. A digest of sorts for congressional tweet trends can be found here.

@housefloor and @senatefloor tweet House and Senate floor votes. (Note: When tweeting about bills, use the following tags: #usbill and a hashtag with the bill number (e.g., #s1111) so that content aggregators can compile the tweets more efficiently.)

   

Web Sites of Interest

Congress.Gov (formerly THOMAS)
A site maintained by the Library of Congress that provides in-depth information on the U.S. Congress. Users can search the site by bill number or keyword to learn about the legislative process, find a state's members of Congress, and access a comprehensive database on current and past legislation. The site also provides a full-text search of the "Congressional Record", a daily record of activity in Congress, and committee information (Diana Hacker, 2003).

US Government Publishing System - Digital (GPO)

GovTrack US - Track the US Congress

Minnesota State Legislature

North Dakota State Legislature

US Senate: Legislation and Records

US House of Representatives: Office of the Clerk

Congress.Gov Public Laws List

History of U.S. Bills 1983-present

National Archives: Presidents' Documents Guide (includes Administrative Orders)

American Political Science Association

Foreign Affairs Online
A meta-index to sites related to international law, international relations, and U.S. foreign policy. Well organized and annotated, this site is hosted by the Department of Information Technology and Communication at the University of Virginia (Diana Hacker, 2003).
Human Rights Library by the University of Minnesota
Human rights information of an international scope. This site also includes the Peace Resource Center (http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/peace/index.html) and documents from the United Nations (http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/un-orgs.htm).
Institute for Social Research
"The University of Michigan Institute for Social Research (ISR) is one of the largest and oldest academic survey and social research organizations in the world. Representing the disciplines of psychology, political science, economics, anthropology and public health, ISR research scientists have directed some of the longest-running and most widely cited and utilized studies in the nation."

Internet Legal Resources (University of Minnesota)
A subject index to legal resources on the internet, courtesy of the University of Minnesota Law Library.

Overview of the Federal Government's Power to Exclude Aliens

Library of Congress Country Studies
Online editions of book-length country profiles produced for U.S. diplomats. This site includes substantial information on each nation's culture, history, economy, and political system. It is searchable by topic and country. Be sure to note publication dates for the most current information; some volumes are more than ten years old and may include outdated materials (Diana Hacker, 2003).
Minnesota Magazine Index
MNMag is an index of articles on local and statewide politics, news, current events, history and the arts that appear in nine Minnesota magazines. Produced since 1991 by the staff in the History Department at the Minneapolis Public Library, MNMag now includes over 14,000 citations.
National Security Archive
The Web site of a project that has collected the world's largest non-governmental archive of declassified documents, many of them covering controversial issues and obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. Though many documents are not accessible through the Web site, there are collections of papers called "briefing books" on a variety of foreign affairs topics. The National Security Archive is an independent non-governmental research institute and library at George Washington University (Diana Hacker, 2003).
SOSIG (Social Science Information Gateway)
Social Science Information Gateway provides select Internet resources for academics and professionals in the fields of the social sciences, business, law, philosophy, and women's studies. Materials reflect the British origin.
The Center for Voting and Democracy
The Center for Voting and Democracy is a nonpartisan, nonprofit group started in 1992 to cover fair voting procedures. Its purpose is to study how voting systems affect participation, representation, and governance, with a view to election reform. The site includes information on instant runoff voting (IRV), proportional representation (PR), cumulative voting, campaign finance, redistricting, third parties, voter turnout, women and representation, race and representation, pending legislation, ballot measures, and voting rights.
The Encyclopedia of Law & Economics
Attempts to provide a survey of the whole law & economics literature, with a total number of pages of approximately 3,000.

About the Affordable Care Act

USA Freedom Act

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Animal Welfare: Federal Legislation

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) - Department of Homeland Security

United Nations
Offers news releases, virtual tours, documents, and basic information about the United Nations and its bodies. Three different search engines explore a large database and list of links. The site includes a wealth of reports, statistical data, and other information on human rights, international law, peacekeeping missions, and other topics (Diana Hacker, 2003).
University of Michigan Documents Center: Political Science Resources
An enormous series of links related to political science and political theory. Links are annotated, and sponsoring institutions of listed sites are named (Diana Hacker, 2003).