Skip to main content

Legal Research Guide

Federal

  • Active Legislation (US Senate) Alphabetical listing of active legislation by subject or popular title. Updated at least weekly when Congress is in session.
  • Bill Summary and Status Search (Thomas-Library of Congress) Search by bill number, keyword, sponsor, status in legislative process, committee, or date of introduction. From 93rd Congress (1973/74) to the present.
  • Congressional Quarterly Weekly (HSU users only) Covers developments in the U.S. Congress, including the status of bills, votes and amendments, and floor and committee activity from 1983 to the present.
  • CongressNow (GalleryWatch) (HSU users only) Covers policy and legislation in Congress. Updated on a daily basis, Monday through Friday.
  • Congressional Research Service Reports (US Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service) The Congressional Research Service is the non-partisan public policy research arm of the United States Congress. Reports produced by CRS attempt to clearly define an issue in its legislative context and may take many forms including policy analysis, economic studies, statistical reviews, and legal analyses. Approximately 1,000 new reports and issue briefs are produced annually. Since only a small number of these reports are officially made available to the public other organizations have cooperated to make many of the CRS reports publically available. For additional background information see Guide to CRS Reports on the Web and Congressional Research Service Reports. Following are the two major indexes to CRS reports available on the Internet:
  • Open CRS (Center for Democracy & Technology) Indexes over 13,000 fulltext CRS reports available on the Open CRS site and other sites.
  • Current Bibliographies (Proquest) Periodically updated bibliographies on current topics in all subject areas. Includes references to Congressional publications, other govenement reports and statistics.
  • Govtrack.us (Joshua Tauberer) Independent website containing information collected daily from Thomas and other official government websites. Search current bills and older legislation back to 1999 by bill number, bill fulltext keywords, committee assignment, section of US Code to be amended, and bill subject. Bills contain links to Congressional Budget Office estimates on cost of legislation and organizations who have made major contributions to bill sponsors and cosponsors. Set up email or RSS alerts for specific bills, committees or subjects.
  • History of Bills (US Government Printing Office) Includes actions on bills that are recorded in theCongressional Record and gives page and date where the action is reported. Browse by date; or search by keyword or citation. Updated daily and covers 1983 to the present.
  • OpenCongress (Participatory Politics Foundation & Sunlight Foundation) User friendly site for learning about federal legislation. The site's mission is to make Congress more transparent and to encourage civic engagement through social networking tools. The site includes official government information on bills, including votes and committee reports; news articles and blog posts about bills and members of Congress; campaign contribution data for every member of Congress; and contribution analysis of prominent bills. Includes a list of "hot" bills.
  • PolicyArchive (Center for Governmental Studies) Comprehensive digital library of public policy research that provides access to over 25,000 reports, videos, briefs, and multimedia materials from think tank, university, government, and foundation-funded sources in all subject areas.
  • Scout - Federal and State Legislative Alert Service (Sunlight Foundation) Provides updates on federal and state legislation, federal regulations, speeches and statements from the Congressional Record, congressional hearing transcripts, and GAO reports. Alerts can be set up to receive notifications.

California

  • Bill Information (Legislative Counsel of California) Contains text, status, history, analyses and votes of all introduced bills from the 1999/2000 legislative session to the present. Updated daily. Includes an historical sequence of text revisions made during the legislative process. Indexes include bill number, author, and keyword. Bill analyses include point-by-point specifics on what a bill would do, the arguments in favor and against the bill, the fiscal impacts of the bill, prior history of the bill and background information on the issue.
  • California Policy Inbox (UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies Library) Selectively reports and links to public policy research about California produced by academic, nonprofit, and governmental research organizations. Browse by date, subject category, or search by keyword.
  • Digest of Legislation (California Senate. Rules Committee) Annual (print copy available in Cal Doc L551 S53) Summarizes legislation introduced during each year along with the status of the legislation. Bill summaries are organized by topic. An introductory "Legislative Overview" highlights major legislation by broad subject.
  • Legislative Highlights (California Senate. Office of Research) Summarizes significant measures approved by the Senate and Assembly and sent to the governor each year. The bills are organized by broad subject area.
  • Legislative Index (Legislative Counsel of California) Index to currrent bills in Legislature. Issued periodically while the Legislature is in session, with each issue being cumulative. Contains two parts: a "subject index" to introduced bills and resolutions; and a "table of sections affected" that shows each section of the Constitution, codes, and uncodified laws affected by introduced bills.
  • California Reseach Bureau (California State Library) Provides nonpartisan research services to the governor, state legislature, and other state elected officials. These services include preparation of reports and memoranda on current policy issues covering topics such as the history of the issue, experiences and proposals in other states, case studies and examples, data analysis, and development of legislative proposals. This work might be confidential to the requestor or might result in a published public report.
  • California Senate Office of Research Prepares studies on policy issues of interest to the California State Senate, including agriculture, education, energy, governmental organization, health, human services, labor, employment, taxation, and transportation. SOR "is a nonpartisan office charged with serving the research needs of the California State Senate."
  • Scout - Federal and State Legislative Alert Service (Sunlight Foundation) Provides updates on federal and state legislation, federal regulations, speeches and statements from theCongressional Record, congressional hearing transcripts, and GAO reports. Alerts can be set up to receive notifications.