Researching State Legislation: Why You Need to Put on Your Detective Hat

Jul 14, 2021 16:11 · 10423 words · 49 minute read

Lynda Kellam (she/her): Okay awesome Thank you everyone for coming. It looks like our numbers are slowing down a little.

00:11 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): This is great, a lot of names I don’t recognize and some I do so welcome to people who’ve been coming and.

00:19 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): and to the people who are new to our webinar series. So, my name is Linda Kellam I am the data librarian at the Cornell Center for Social Sciences and the Chair of the Government Documents Roundtable for another month and a half.

00:36 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): So, welcome to the Help! I’m an Accidental Government Information Librarian webinar series or Help! for short. the series is brought to you by the American Library Association Government Documents Roundtable and the NCLA Government Resources section.

00:53 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): In the future, GODORT going to take over the webinars and the these organizations into the delay and good are working together to bring the series.

01:02 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): Or to bring you the series during the transition, so thank you very much for coming Oh well, we have.

01:08 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): Quite a few people came in there, and please keep your audio mute well, you have to nevermind This is old instructions, we encourage you to participate in chat throughout the webinar.

01:20 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): You can also use the Q&A. With the Q&A we’re able to track when questions have been answered so that’s preferred.

01:27 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): If you have a specific question but you’re also welcome to use that if you accidentally use the chat or you prefer the chat feel free to do that, we will.

01:34 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): We will get to your question and i’ll keep track of questions as they come in, if there are technical issues samantha, you will see her name and she has tech support beside her.

01:45 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): She is our tech support person and she is on hand to help you. Feel free to chat with her directly if you can or just chat with panelists and we’ll get to you.

01:54 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): As soon as we can, in the worst case scenario, we are recording the webinar and we’ll make it available as soon as possible after the session.

02:03 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): So. Lynda Kellam (she/her): We have no webinars scheduled for the summer.

02:11 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): GODORT has a lot of sessions planned for you at ALA or not a lot we have some sessions plan for ALA we’re very excited about. One session is on the impact of COVID on marginalized communities.

02:24 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): And how libraries have responded and then the second session is going to be on the evictions crisis.

02:31 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): getting to know what’s going on there and then also how libraries have responded to the evictions crisis during COVID-19.

02:38 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): We encourage out much more information be coming out about those sessions in the next couple weeks and I am very excited about those and I hope you can join us.

02:49 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): In July and August we are going to take a little vacation from the help series, so I encourage you to go outside and learn paddleboarding that’s what i’m going to try and do this summer, maybe.

02:59 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): And then, in September we’ll come back together with a civic switchboard project they’re going to talk about their data literacy project that they’ve been working on for about a year now.

03:10 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): I’m still always happy to have suggestions, so if you have ideas or if you’d like to present I see Jeremy Darrington in there, maybe I can get him to present something again.

03:20 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): We would love to have your ideas, so please get in touch with me, and let me know if there’s something you would like to see us do, or if something you would like to present on so i’m very excited to have with us today Jennifer Horne stop sharing.

03:38 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): Jennifer is the business, economics, and government information librarian at the University of Kentucky.

03:47 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): In this role, she supports the schools of business public policy and administration and diplomacy, she also serves as the library’s forward facing contact for government information.

03:58 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): Prior to joining UofK she spent more than 20 years in public policy, research and legislative affairs for organizations that represent state and local officials.

04:07 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): Including the Council of State governments, the national conference of state legislatures, and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

04:14 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): She earned her Master’s in Information Science from the University of Tennessee a Master’s in Legislative Affairs from George Washington University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Politics and Spanish from Washington and we so thank you very much Jennifer.

04:34 - Jennifer Horne: Thank you so much, Linda for that introduction.

04:37 - Jennifer Horne: Good afternoon, welcome to everybody for coming. Thank you so much for joining me right before Memorial Day weekend. I do not want to repeat my bio too much.

04:49 - Jennifer Horne: other than to say that. Jennifer Horne: before becoming an academic librarian I did have a whole separate career in public policy and legislative affairs and not really by design, but I ended up working solely for membership organizations that represented state and local officials so.

05:08 - Jennifer Horne: At both the Council of State governments, where I was the associate director of policy.

05:13 - Jennifer Horne: And the national conference of state legislatures, where I worked, pretty much right out of college, those were both organizations that explicitly.

05:21 - Jennifer Horne: That explicitly have Members from either just state legislators, or in the case of CSU from.

05:28 - Jennifer Horne: From all three branches of government, I also worked for the International Association of Chiefs of Police where I did a lot of state legislative work.

05:36 - Jennifer Horne: And so what that means is I have spent a very large portion of my professional life of searching for legislation and laws, both at the federal and the state level.

05:47 - Jennifer Horne: I’ve done multiple what I call 50-state surveys, where I tried to find out the law on a specific policy area for all 50 states, mostly for CSG Book of the States which is a resource I hope many of you are familiar with and I’ll be talking a little bit more about later.

06:04 - Jennifer Horne: I also worked on CSU shared State legislation program where I work to identify First-in-the-nation bills and bills that were innovative.

06:15 - Jennifer Horne: Again looking at lots of different legislative websites and new sites, and this also means that I have been on all 50 state legislative websites and I know the ones that make it easy for people to find information and the ones like to put it charitably do not.

06:32 - Jennifer Horne: And so we’ll talk a little bit today about the differences between state legislative websites and other alternative strategies for finding state legislative information.

06:42 - Jennifer Horne: In this series, there have been lots of presentations about state government information, most of them targeted to finding information for a particular state.

06:52 - Jennifer Horne: Today I’m going to focus more broadly on finding state legislative information and I’m also going to talk about.

07:00 - Jennifer Horne: As I just mentioned, like ways the differences between different state legislative website and strategies for doing multi speed searches so.

07:09 - Jennifer Horne: Many of you are probably if you’re familiar with state legislative website at all you’re probably familiar with your own state.

07:14 - Jennifer Horne: And maybe not have to maybe haven’t spent lots of time on other States enough to really recognize how different they are in terms of the types of information they provide, and how easy it is to find that information.

07:28 - Jennifer Horne: I’m going to go ahead and share my screen.

07:41 - Jennifer Horne: So, today, you know my presentation is on researching State legislation and putting on your detective hat and you know I don’t know that I’m as stylish as that detective image is, but there aren’t very many of them and they clearly needed to be wearing a hat, for it to make sense.

07:59 - Jennifer Horne: But before I really get started on how to find state legislation, I want to talk just briefly about why State legislation is so important.

08:08 - Jennifer Horne: And yreally most of the attention in the news is focused on the actions or, in reality, the lack thereof, of the US Congress we’re focused on presidential elections versus state and local elections.

08:23 - Jennifer Horne: I would argue that state legislators are increasingly deciding the issues that affect citizens most directly and.

08:31 - Jennifer Horne: And just for some examples here, we’re waiting on Congress, or the Senate to take up voting rights legislation, but in the meantime, as of April 1st legislators in 47 States have introduced 361 bills that restrict voting rights.

08:51 - Jennifer Horne: Similarly, everybody’s watching the Supreme Court to see what they’ll do with a major abortion case, but since January, 61 different abortion restrictions have passed in 13 different states and eight of those would entirely outlaw abortion if Roe vs Wade were to be overturned.

09:09 - Jennifer Horne: And finally, the George Floyd policing act pending in Congress.

09:17 - Jennifer Horne: While that is at the moment not going anywhere lawmakers in 47 States have introduced 545 bills that address policing reform.

09:26 - Jennifer Horne: And so, for that year 41 of these bills have passed one or both chambers and 18 of them have been enacted into law.

09:32 - Jennifer Horne: So my point is is that, while all of the national news interest is on Congress and the presidency, meanwhile, all of these actions are being taken at the state level.

09:42 - Jennifer Horne: And these are just big issues right that make the news with all the other legislation that states pass really directly have have a direct effect on people’s lives probably more so than what is passed by Congress.

09:57 - Jennifer Horne: Just to put this in perspective, the the last session of Congress with ran from 2019 through the beginning of 2021 they enacted 344 laws and so far this year they’ve enacted 15.

10:10 - Jennifer Horne: In 2019 state legislators past 18,000 bills.

10:15 - Jennifer Horne: that’s a lot of bills that affect a lot of people.

10:19 - Jennifer Horne: And so. Jennifer Horne: What one of the things that I want to talk about is.

10:26 - Jennifer Horne: How researching State legislation is similar and different than finding federal legislation.

10:33 - Jennifer Horne: And the most notable difference is that of course there are 50 plus legislative websites and Here are some examples, all of which have very different.

10:45 - Jennifer Horne: Ways of presenting information very different levels of information that’s provided to the citizens of the state.

10:53 - Jennifer Horne: it’s not like congress. gov that you could master and then be able to really figure out all of.

11:00 - Jennifer Horne: what’s happening at the federal level, you have to get comfortable and navigate all of these different sites and they are very, very different. and another key difference, but sadly there’s so much less media coverage of state houses and their actions.

11:19 - Jennifer Horne: So it has been seven years since this survey was last done but from 2003 to 2014 state house coverage by newspapers declined by over 35% and i’m sure that that is even worse today and even more broadly, newspaper employment in the US has dropped.

11:38 - Jennifer Horne: by almost a quarter in the last 10 years and the number of newspaper newsroom employees dropped by over 50% between 2008 and 2019, which means that there just aren’t reporters.

11:52 - Jennifer Horne: covering the day to day actions in the legislature, and that is really a problem in terms of people’s ability to understand what is happening, what kind of bills are being passed what who are the supporters and opponents of those bills, this lack of, transparency.

12:11 - Jennifer Horne: has a major effect on people’s thoughts about their State governments.

12:18 - Jennifer Horne: And so just to talk briefly about state legislators, when I say they vary greatly I don’t just mean based on their architecture, although I do find this fascinating you can see here.

12:32 - Jennifer Horne: you’ve got in the from the top left you’ve got California, which looks very much like the US Capitol you’ve got Hawaii you’ve got them The Grand in New York building and then you’ve got nebraska’s office tower and.

12:46 - Jennifer Horne: But they’re just lots of differences between the State legislators, first of all, just the size.

12:52 - Jennifer Horne: They range from just 49 senators in the unicameral nebraska legislature to 425 in new Hampshire.

13:01 - Jennifer Horne: it’s the second largest legislature in the country, second only to the US House.

13:08 - Jennifer Horne: you’ve also got major differences in whether legislators are full or part time and.

13:15 - Jennifer Horne: NCSL the national conference of state legislatures categorizes them this way that 10 states have full time legislatures.

13:22 - Jennifer Horne: Which means they meet throughout the year, the legislators are paid significant salaries enough that they don’t have to have another job.

13:30 - Jennifer Horne: There are large numbers of professional staff who work at the legislature to support the lawmakers.

13:36 - Jennifer Horne: and the rest of them are part time and that’s divided between 2016 that they categorize as hybrid these are states that are part time they have intermediate paying staff, not everybody who works who’s a legislator has a second job.

13:51 - Jennifer Horne: versus a citizen legislature, which is part time very low pay very small staff. these people, for the most part, have other jobs to put this in perspective California lawmakers make 100 almost $115,000.

14:08 - Jennifer Horne: New Hampshire legislators make $100 a year, and they get no per diem.

14:14 - Jennifer Horne: New Mexico legislators make zero salary, but do get a per diem.

14:20 - Jennifer Horne: Some States don’t even meet every year got Montana Nevada and North Dakota this surprises, a lot of people, but that in Texas, they only meet every other year.

14:32 - Jennifer Horne: here’s a map from NCSL just shows the different types of legislators, the green are full time the darker green or like a really full time.

14:40 - Jennifer Horne: Like the lighter green are the what they call full time lite you see the most of the states are the hybrid in the Gray, and then you’ve got the part time and, like the super super part-time.

14:54 - Jennifer Horne: And just the number of professional staff who are available to support the legislators just vary significantly, again, you know California had 2100 staff professional staff.

15:04 - Jennifer Horne: Last time, the survey was done in 2015 and Vermont had 92 so it really shouldn’t be a surprise that state legislative websites vary so much and that they provide different levels of information and that the ease of finding information varies greatly between them.

15:24 - Jennifer Horne: And so, with That said, it seems obvious that if you’re looking for information on the bill that you would start.

15:32 - Jennifer Horne: With the state legislative website, I know that I always learned to go to the authoritative source and looking for a bill in Congress I’m going to go to Congress. gov, although I will date myself and refer to it as Thomas.

15:45 - Jennifer Horne: But I’m here to tell you that, depending on what state it is it’s really not necessarily the best place for you to start your research.

15:53 - Jennifer Horne: finding information on the state legislation can be more difficult than you think especially since all of the information should be publicly available, theoretically, and this gets even harder, if you don’t have.

16:08 - Jennifer Horne: key information, like a bill number and you’d be surprised by how often do not have a bill number.

16:14 - Jennifer Horne: it’s not reported in the news, and you have to really go.

16:17 - Jennifer Horne: hunting to figure out how to find this bill and that’s where I talk about needing to employ different strategies, this is where you really need to become a detective and think about how we can figure out.

16:28 - Jennifer Horne: The bill number in order to find the bill texts and other information. one of the main ways to do this is to identify the stakeholders for the bill, you know who cares the most about the bill.

16:41 - Jennifer Horne: And you can look to see if they have you know publishing information on it, if there is a statement about why they support or oppose it those kind of statements are much more likely to include a bill number than, say, a news article about a bill.

16:57 - Jennifer Horne: And so. Jennifer Horne: One of the things that you know I generally have to think about when you’re starting a State legislative kind of searches.

17:07 - Jennifer Horne: You have to really figure out like what is it that you know if you know the bill number, this is going to be a lot easier.

17:13 - Jennifer Horne: And you might know a bill title that might have been mentioned in a news article or you might have seen a quote from the bill sponsor that might also help you find it.

17:23 - Jennifer Horne: In a pinch on most websites, you can do a keyword search, although it’s not always as easy as you think it will be.

17:30 - Jennifer Horne: You might also know from a news article like who are the groups that support or oppose it, that Might there be that might also be a way to try to figure out the bill number and.

17:41 - Jennifer Horne: So my example for this is you hear a news article on the radio about that the legislature has passed a bill that caps the copay for insulin, for example.

17:53 - Jennifer Horne: They they don’t mention the bill number and they give you a little information about it, there might be a quote from the sponsor well that sponsors name could be useful that might help you find the bill.

18:05 - Jennifer Horne: You might depending on your state website, you might be, it might be pretty easy to find this bill searching for insulin.

18:12 - Jennifer Horne: But I’m going to show you why that’s not always the case, and that it really depends on the state and, to be honest, finding the bill text is not always going to give you enough information to know what the bill actually does and who it affects.

18:27 - Jennifer Horne: A lot of times you’re looking for additional context, you’re looking for background information you’re looking for a plain English summary of what this bill does and you’re not always going to find it on a legislative website.

18:39 - Jennifer Horne: So let me, I just want to go ahead and do a search for you and i’m going to show my home state.

18:48 - Jennifer Horne: The Kentucky legislative website is is not the best but i’m going to show you how.

18:55 - Jennifer Horne: How I would think a regular person who isn’t completely familiar with this page would would search for and i’m going to use this example of the insulin.

19:04 - Jennifer Horne: and Jennifer Horne: So.

19:10 - Jennifer Horne: Okay, I’m on this page and i’m like okay i’m looking for a bill i’m just gonna I’m going to click on bill and then who find a bill that’s What I want, I want to find a bill.

19:23 - Jennifer Horne: First I need to know that I need to switch this back to the 2021 session, and then I realize that the only thing I can search for is a bill number.

19:34 - Jennifer Horne: I don’t have a bill number so I want to go back and i’m going to say okay well now i’m going to look at this session i’m gonna see if I can find it in here.

19:47 - Jennifer Horne: And so, this is a lot of information, and again I don’t really know where to go, I do know that it was signed into law so i’m not so maybe I would think to look here that it was passed and signed into law.

20:01 - Jennifer Horne: Well, this is just not helpful at all because you’re not going to click on all of these bill numbers to see what the bill is I mean this is just crazy so again i’m going to go back and you know if.

20:19 - Jennifer Horne: There’s just you know i’m not seeing an easy way to figure this out on this page.

20:24 - Jennifer Horne: So this is where this is where Google search is just you know you’re trying to find a.

20:31 - Jennifer Horne: News source that mentions the bill number and sometimes they do, and sometimes you don’t and so I’m getting lucky here we can see that this is HB 95 so now, at least, I have a bill number, and I can go back to that list.

20:50 - Jennifer Horne: Of all the laws that I found, and I can click on each group.

21:00 - Jennifer Horne: I finally found the bill, and you can you know you’ve got this information, and I want to read the text.

21:08 - Jennifer Horne: Here is the final version and you’ve got.

21:15 - Jennifer Horne: They show you what has changed in this what’s been added and what’s been deleted and so you can see that this is fairly clear that cost-sharing for insulin drug should not exceed $30 for 30 days.

21:29 - Jennifer Horne: Then you get kind of some of these other clauses that, to be honest i’m not exactly sure what they mean.

21:35 - Jennifer Horne: They kind of appear throughout the bill, so this is where i’m looking for a summary, I want to know what this bill does in plain English.

21:46 - Jennifer Horne: You can see that the summary says, right here summary of original version well.

21:52 - Jennifer Horne: Was it amended? you know I don’t I don’t really know that off the you know I can see here that these are these amendments here but.

22:01 - Jennifer Horne: This summary does not apply to the amendments so you can you really have to do a lot of work here to figure out what amendments were past and what are the fiscal statements you can also see like when you click on this fiscal statement and.

22:17 - Jennifer Horne: I don’t know, and I can see the date is 2/12/21 but now i’m gonna have to go back and see that before.

22:25 - Jennifer Horne: So this is just not providing me an easy way of getting a plain English summary of what this bill does for the final version.

22:35 - Jennifer Horne: And so. Jennifer Horne: I want to be fair to Kentucky I have you can, if you were to click this search.

22:45 - Jennifer Horne: You can. Jennifer Horne: that’s not gonna work for me and.

22:51 - Jennifer Horne: You can, if you were to know you could switch to legislative record and you could search for insulin.

23:00 - Jennifer Horne: But it doesn’t ever bring up the bill page that we are just not it does bring up the text of this of the bill, and you can go back to get HB 95, but I would argue that most people who are looking for information on still are not going to know to go over here to this to search the legislative.

23:19 - Jennifer Horne: I just want to compare this to.

23:24 - Jennifer Horne: Another state that passed a similar bill.

23:28 - Jennifer Horne: So I’m on the Michigan legislative page and on the main page, I can see that I can search by Bill number, or I can search the content so I’m just going to search for insulin.

23:38 - Jennifer Horne: And and look here it is limit the amount of the copay for prescription insulin.

23:46 - Jennifer Horne: I mean, how much easier was that than what I did in Kentucky.

23:51 - Jennifer Horne: You can see here that they have.

23:55 - Jennifer Horne: summaries that they tell you clearly what the summary is on. Here’s the summary is introduced and here’s the summary, as it was reported by committee.

24:07 - Jennifer Horne: If it had been amended on the House floor there would be another one here that says summary has passed by the House, for example, and when you look at this, you can see in contrast to.

24:20 - Jennifer Horne: What we didn’t have in Kentucky, which is what I called a plain English.

24:27 - Jennifer Horne: say. Jennifer Horne: it’s not.

24:33 - Jennifer Horne: I’m not sure why it is not opening for me here.

24:42 - Jennifer Horne: You can see that this is what I would call a plain English summary and you can see that it is not written in legislative language.

24:54 - Jennifer Horne: For the most part, you can see that they also tell you who supported this bill in the committee and who opposed it, who testified against it.

25:06 - Jennifer Horne: This is really useful information, and you know you can see that it was supported by the American Diabetes Association, they are P, you can see that it was opposed by the Association health plans and some individual health plans.

25:25 - Jennifer Horne: And so um. Jennifer Horne: And so you know when I’m here like we’ve already found a pretty good.

25:34 - Jennifer Horne: summary from here I’m looking for more context and background, and so one of the ways I could you know I can do that as it was the American diabetes association.

25:45 - Jennifer Horne: Michigan and then there’s the bill number i’m just going to plug all that in and what i’m looking for is i’m trying to see if they have their testimony given or.

25:54 - Jennifer Horne: You can see that they have like.

25:58 - Jennifer Horne: This is a call to their. Jennifer Horne: they’re asking their members to email, what it would do.

26:08 - Jennifer Horne: You can also another thing you could do to get more information is.

26:14 - Jennifer Horne: Look for the sponsor of the bill, this was her last name.

26:22 - Jennifer Horne: I’m looking here, to see if they have if there’s news articles about this also if she put out a press statement when it passed.

26:31 - Jennifer Horne: Legislators want to get credit when their bills pass pass their chambers, you can see that we’re getting some information we’re getting some news articles on this.

26:42 - Jennifer Horne: So again, this is, you know going to provide more background and context, on what this bill actually does, why she introduced it.

26:51 - Jennifer Horne: We might also get some articles about who.

26:57 - Jennifer Horne: cares, a speech she made on it like you can get a lot of information there about why she was you know what her motivations are and then also you know, sometimes you’ll see trying to find that article that kind of summarizes who’s opposed to it as well, so those are.

27:16 - Jennifer Horne: really great. Jennifer Horne: To look for things like that and other things that you can be looking for.

27:25 - Jennifer Horne: I’m going to show some examples of let’s get back to you because I see some people are talking about this in chat and I have not forgotten about some other ways to get information.

27:38 - Jennifer Horne: So what I’m looking for when i’m trying to find context and background to help me understand what a bill does.

27:45 - Jennifer Horne: I’m looking one for planning or summary that’s so helpful I’m going to run news searches I’m going to look for the bill title.

27:53 - Jennifer Horne: The number the sponsor you can’t just search for the bill number, because some of these articles won’t include it and then you’ll miss them.

28:00 - Jennifer Horne: I’m going to be looking for press releases from the sponsor I’m going to be looking for press releases from organizations that either support or oppose the bill.

28:10 - Jennifer Horne: And another thing that some states have I’m going to show I call this kind of like my advanced legislative sites.

28:25 - Jennifer Horne: I’m going to go and show you.

28:31 - Jennifer Horne: in Florida. Florida has because they have really strong sunshine laws they have a lot of kind of great features on their website and one of the things let’s say I’m going to search for.

28:46 - Jennifer Horne: let’s say i’m going to look for bills I’m going to look for the.

28:53 - Jennifer Horne: bill that they pass about rioters.

28:59 - Jennifer Horne: Among other things, allows people to drive into them.

29:03 - Jennifer Horne: But so here’s this bill HB1 combating public disorder.

29:09 - Jennifer Horne: And in addition to the bill text all the amendments, and you can see that they’ve got some they have some serious staff analysis like here’s the final house version of this analysis, like look at this is.

29:25 - Jennifer Horne: very plain English of a complicated bill with background why they passed it they’ve got citations to news articles.

29:34 - Jennifer Horne: I mean, this is the 18 page summary of the bill that I don’t even know that the bill is 18 pages I’m not sure, but the other thing I wanted to show from in Florida, is that they make available videos of committee hearings, and so it was.

29:53 - Jennifer Horne: It was on the House in the Judiciary Committee on march 10th and if you scroll here, you can see that here is there on demand video archive.

30:03 - Jennifer Horne: And when you click on march 10 here is the video, we could sit and watch this hearing for three hours and see all the people who testified for and against it, we could see what the legislators said about it, we could see the votes.

30:18 - Jennifer Horne: That doesn’t your, this is not something they did just because of COVID. This is something that they have been doing for quite a while.

30:27 - Jennifer Horne: and Jennifer Horne: Another.

30:33 - Jennifer Horne: Just to show again the advantage Arizona is another legislative page that has a great has a great website and there’s a bill.

30:45 - Jennifer Horne: That. Jennifer Horne: deals with whether people convicted of animal cruelty and bestiality and other offenses can own an animal for can’t have an animal for a certain amount of time, but if you’re searching for this bill you just can start typing and.

31:13 - Jennifer Horne: You can see that they’ve got various various fields here, and the one I’m looking for is this 2483, but I just wanted to show you the what they’re like what a great plain English summary looks like.

31:28 - Jennifer Horne: they’ve got videos I don’t There probably aren’t a lot of videos of this because it wasn’t a bill that even made the news so i’m not sure it had a full hearing but.

31:39 - Jennifer Horne: You can see that, like here is the summary.

31:45 - Jennifer Horne: As passed by the House, and you can see that this the bill, you know this is they have an overview of the bill, the history, the provisions of the bill, what the bill what the bill actually does, and so this is just the difference between.

32:01 - Jennifer Horne: You know, this is the difference between a state like Kentucky that you know, has a lot of this information, but it’s not very easy to find and states like Arizona and Florida that have made a clear effort to make it easy for non legislative experts to find to find information.

32:19 - Jennifer Horne: And so let’s get back to I’m just going to I’m going to quickly check just to make sure that I don’t I don’t think I have any questions, I think the chat because going on fine without me.

32:32 - Jennifer Horne: So yeah I talked a little bit about the differences between legislative websites and how.

32:38 - Jennifer Horne: Depending on what state you’re searching the ease of finding information various I want to talk a little bit about some sites that.

32:47 - Jennifer Horne: are alternatives to searching an individual state legislative website and there are several these I’m just going to mention a couple.

32:56 - Jennifer Horne: These are sites that aggregate legislative information from all 50 States they do like data downloads every night from the legislative pages and then they put them into their own format and their own features, and so this can be great if you’re searching for.

33:13 - Jennifer Horne: Information for a state that makes it hard to search keywords like Kentucky It can also be great if you’re searching across states, so if you’re looking you know if I wanted to find out how many states past insulin co-pay bills, this year, these are the sites, I would go to.

33:27 - Jennifer Horne: There, of course, paid sites that are great at this like state net i’m not going to talk about those because these are these are free, or at least the portions that I’m going to show today our free bill track 50 does require registration, but it’s but it’s free for what.

33:43 - Jennifer Horne: For what I’m going to show, and these sites are very similar I think they each have pros and cons and so, depending on what i’m using it for I might choose one or another, but let me I’m going to go and close some of these.

33:56 - Jennifer Horne: I’m just going to show open States first OpenStates is completely free they don’t they’re not selling anything there’s not.

34:05 - Jennifer Horne: Like a paid portion of this.

34:08 - Jennifer Horne: You can search one state, or you can search all the states so, for example, if I wanted to if I was looking for that Kentucky insulin bill.

34:17 - Jennifer Horne: I mean honestly I would have found it faster searching here than on the website so I’m just going to type in insulin and you can see, like Look how fast, I found it right here.

34:30 - Jennifer Horne: here’s the bill, and they you know, have their own kind of overlay of this information that they’re getting directly from the Kentucky website, and you know they have the actions here, and then you can also.

34:48 - Jennifer Horne: Get the bill text and what’s good is it send you directly to the PDF from the Kentucky legislature, so you can see how they how they do it, how they indicate the changes.

35:04 - Jennifer Horne: You can also instead of just looking in Kentucky you can.

35:10 - Jennifer Horne: search all the states. Jennifer Horne: So if I wanted to search for insulin copay.

35:19 - Jennifer Horne: I will get a list of relevant bills.

35:25 - Jennifer Horne: You can see that they found 281 bills now, these are not all going to be exactly what I want they’re not all going to have passed, some of these are.

35:38 - Jennifer Horne: dead or some of these have passed like this is an appropriations bill, there may or may not be something about cocaine in this large bill, but this is a way to you know, try to see.

35:50 - Jennifer Horne: If you can pick out the other states like so here’s clearly this Rhode island one is clearly exactly what i’m looking for so prescription drug benefits copayment.

35:59 - Jennifer Horne: it’s not perfect, because you also need to search it for co-pay with the hyphen because you get different bills.

36:08 - Jennifer Horne: So, but it is a good way to search all the 50 states at once There’s LegiScan that’s another one.

36:16 - Jennifer Horne: It is similar. Jennifer Horne: And you can see I’m covering.

36:25 - Jennifer Horne: So I’m going to don’t want to do bill tracking on you bill searching.

36:30 - Jennifer Horne: But again, you can search by one state, you can search all states this.

36:37 - Jennifer Horne: This shows you a you know, this is a different way of you know the results.

36:44 - Jennifer Horne: And it does, it is clear what bills have passed and which bills are still pending.

36:50 - Jennifer Horne: But another another good way, one thing I really like about LegiScan is they do show you that at the top 50 national searches like for the last day or or so and so sometimes it’s just interesting to see what people are searching for.

37:05 - Jennifer Horne: And finally the other one is Billtrack.

37:09 - Jennifer Horne: It is. Jennifer Horne: This is the one where you need to to log in and say.

37:22 - Jennifer Horne: That I got that on my first Okay, but again, all states where we can search for insulin and copay.

37:29 - Jennifer Horne: LegiScan I forgot to show it, but it does not take you directly to be like the the authoritative text of the bill, it has it in html so it’s a little hard to read this one has.

37:43 - Jennifer Horne: Is a little bit easier in that it doesn’t give you the text that way, but it does send you directly to this official bill page, which is useful.

37:54 - Jennifer Horne: And so that was just the last thing I want to cover is that if you’re not looking for an individual bill but you’re more searching for policy areas.

38:04 - Jennifer Horne: You don’t need to re-invent the wheel, there are other organizations that are doing this type of research and.

38:10 - Jennifer Horne: And if you can find something that’s already been done, you can save yourself lots of time I’m going to show two of the organizations that I worked for but just to give you an idea of the types of things you can find.

38:22 - Jennifer Horne: NCSL the national conference of state legislatures has been slow for me today.

38:39 - Jennifer Horne: it’s kind of think about that well I’m while I’m waiting for that to come up, I will talk about the Council of state governments and the Book of the states, and I hope, people are familiar with this with this.

38:52 - Jennifer Horne: site, there is a. Jennifer Horne: let’s see.

39:01 - Jennifer Horne: see that I’m not doing anything fancy to get to any of these, but I have the links are in the slides and there are two things going on with book of the States.

39:12 - Jennifer Horne: First. Jennifer Horne: Is I wanted to show you like the the before 2020, and this is what I worked on, when I was there is getting all of the book of the States into the CSU knowledge Center and you can see that each of the individual.

39:29 - Jennifer Horne: chapters with information is.

39:34 - Jennifer Horne: is available to be downloaded in excel or PDF, and so the 2020 book isn’t in here yet, but I just wanted to show you just an example like here are the election tables, these are the tables I used to work on, when I was there, these takes so much longer than you think to compile but.

39:51 - Jennifer Horne: You know if you’re looking for the preeminent reference guide to state legislatures and state government like really book of the states which is 100% freely available online is the way to go, this is the 2020 version but.

40:07 - Jennifer Horne: You know, like this table like the election dates, this would take me like two weeks to put together and you would not think it was that difficult.

40:14 - Jennifer Horne: But even. Jennifer Horne: Like polling hours and then these are the tables that we have to update the most you know about voter registration requirements, and then we added this table while I was there.

40:28 - Jennifer Horne: about how people vote because we started to get the vote by mail states and other things I can’t imagine what what this is going to look like in the next the next edition, and how many footnotes and other things are going to be in here for the changes.

40:42 - Jennifer Horne: But yeah so this the Book of the States it’s really a great I had it up, this is the most recent version.

40:51 - Jennifer Horne: They have that Issuu right now and I’m not sure why it hasn’t been kind of broken down into the various.

41:00 - Jennifer Horne: tables, but you can see that, like in the table of contents i’ll just try to make this bigger for you.

41:09 - Jennifer Horne: You can see that it’s state finance, the judicial branch, elections, constitutions, executive legislative branch, if you’re looking for things on legislative salaries that’s all it’s all in this it’s all in this book so consider this a plug for the Book of the state. come on NCSL.

41:35 - Jennifer Horne: I don’t know if it’s down. Jennifer Horne: You all.

41:40 - Jennifer Horne: Try one other browser real quick, but what I wanted to talk about.

41:45 - Jennifer Horne: With NCSL is that they have.

41:52 - Jennifer Horne: They have a lot of policy staff who do who write reports and write policy briefs about things, and it doesn’t look like I’m going to be able to show this to you, but.

42:04 - Jennifer Horne: It has. Jennifer Horne: I’ll just tell you about it so like on the homepage right now, they have a link to a survey of.

42:13 - Jennifer Horne: chats go nuts, make sure there’s nothing.

42:17 - Jennifer Horne: yeah some okay so it’s not just me Okay, so they have a bill database highlighted on their main page right now, that is, on security breach legislation and goes through, and talks about all the different bills that were introduced this year and passed on various aspects of it.

42:32 - Jennifer Horne: But also have a news article about.

42:36 - Jennifer Horne: let’s see it was about police reform legislation that highlighted what states have passed what.

42:41 - Jennifer Horne: And they also what I really wanted to show you was they have a they have 50 state tracking databases on different topics under the research tab and so, which is powered by State Net, which is great if you don’t have a subscription to stay that.

42:55 - Jennifer Horne: But, for example, if I were showing it to you I would show you that you went to prescription drugs and there was a cost sharing one.

43:02 - Jennifer Horne: And it would bring up a list of all the bills, you can filter it by year, you could filter it by bills that have passed, you could add a keyword search, so I added insulin.

43:13 - Jennifer Horne: And so it’s really great if the if the art if what you’re interested in is being covered by the NCSL 50 state bill tracking I really recommend doing that and I’m sorry. I’m just. It’s coming.

43:27 - Jennifer Horne: Okay, so I just want to show the see if it can come up but bill tracking.

43:32 - Jennifer Horne: Yes, look at that so here’s the security breach legislation I was talking about, and here is.

43:41 - Jennifer Horne: The say. Jennifer Horne: Research.

43:51 - Jennifer Horne: This is what the page looks like here are all the tracking databases.

43:56 - Jennifer Horne: I mentioned that I looked under I was in prescription drugs.

44:04 - Jennifer Horne: And then it. Jennifer Horne: had all these different things you could search for so I limited it to cost sharing I did all states, I did.

44:16 - Jennifer Horne: Only ones that were adopted in this year and i’ll do insulin.

44:21 - Jennifer Horne: And then, this is by far you know the best of the search results that we’ve had.

44:29 - Jennifer Horne: And, of course, now I got nothing but I had this.

44:33 - Jennifer Horne: that will take. Jennifer Horne: An act it instead that’s what I meant.

44:39 - Jennifer Horne: Yes, so here you go so here, you can see that these are the states that have passed an insulin copay bill this year if we took away the enacted and just saw all of them you’d see the bills that were you know how many bills were introduced.

44:57 - Jennifer Horne: So this is a really great site I use it all the time.

45:02 - Jennifer Horne: And then the just The last thing I wanted to show was just the hopefully people are familiar with Stateline which is probably one of the best news sources for covering state government it’s done by PEW and it is, it has its own original reporting and also links to newspapers.

45:21 - Jennifer Horne: In the States and so it’s a great way to kind of see what are the major state focus stories in the country and also what is happening.

45:31 - Jennifer Horne: In in in the states, you know where you can see, like you know from the Denver Post or the Las Vegas Sun, you can see what.

45:39 - Jennifer Horne: The declining there you know all the numbers are declining I have great respect and admiration for all of the exists for the current state house reporters and they’re doing great work on very limited funds.

45:50 - Jennifer Horne: And so, these stories show up here in Stateline.

45:56 - Jennifer Horne: So I’m sorry for the technical difficulties here i’m going to stop sharing and I’m happy to answer any questions that people have.

46:09 - Jennifer Horne: let’s see we have say. Jennifer Horne: hey I have a question from a patron who wants to find.

46:20 - Jennifer Horne: You know those records of debates in those States they probably I would think they would exist in print at the legislative library for.

46:29 - Jennifer Horne: In those States I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re not digitized, but I would contact the legislative libraries and to see if they have the published record of from those time periods that’s where I would start.

46:46 - Jennifer Horne: to see because the legislative library, I think I don’t know if it’s just me but I always wait too long.

46:53 - Jennifer Horne: Before I pick up the phone and call I’m always trying to find it on my own searching, the Internet and then I pick up the phone and I call.

46:59 - Jennifer Horne: The Kentucky LRC or other places, and they have an answer for me right away so that’s what I would. that’s where I would start and I’m also see that we’ve got yeah I’ve seen the State legislative history guide it’s great, thank you for sharing that.

47:19 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): awesome Thank you so much Jennifer and somebody else to just Hathi too it may be looking there an Internet archive to I think there’s some state legislature historical material potentially.

47:33 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): That you might find but, just like you were saying it depends on whether or not states digitizing the older materials.

47:41 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): there’s a question in the Q and A I just.

47:45 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): I can read it there.

47:47 - Jennifer Horne: Any suggestions for those who want to start being a citizen journalist in terms of covering state legislatures, I mean I, I think that the more people who are.

47:58 - Jennifer Horne: Writing and reporting on what state legislators are doing is fantastic I mean really.

48:05 - Jennifer Horne: The days of like the the old grizzled statehouse reporter there for 50 years like that is really coming to an end the people who are covering state houses, right now, are often right out of college and not paid very much they don’t stay very long So anyone who is.

48:20 - Jennifer Horne: is going to be willing to pay attention to what legislators are doing and to make other people aware of it can only help.

48:29 - Jennifer Horne: bring transparency to state government actions, in my opinion.

48:37 - Jennifer Horne: yeah I saw something somewhere that Arizona.

48:42 - Jennifer Horne: downsized their press room because they only had six reporters regularly attending sessions.

48:49 - Jennifer Horne: I mean that’s. Jennifer Horne: in some states it’s literally like the AP and maybe one paper really there’s you know very little television coverage there’s very little newspaper coverage maybe the.

49:06 - Jennifer Horne: The paper in the capital itself still has a State house reporter, but some states are relying solely on AP.

49:16 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): It looks like Natalie or Natalia Brant.

49:21 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): We have a question, how do you wanted to, we could uh oh she lowered her hand.

49:30 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): Your. Lynda Kellam (she/her): make that happen um I found it, one thing I just wanted to while people are chatting out one things I wanted to mention is how it was fascinating when you show Kentucky’s because that’s exactly the North Carolina interface.

49:43 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): So they must be using the same platform which the same problems with the North Carolina interface is that it’s just it’s built for people who know how to use it, but not like the general public.

49:55 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): Like anybody’s actually things, but it was really it’s exactly the same layout everything is exactly the same.

50:01 - Jennifer Horne: The sad thing is, that there they had a new rollout of a new website like two years ago with great fanfare and it didn’t fix any problems.

50:11 - Jennifer Horne: And so yeah one of my research, one of my research areas and I’m really just getting started on it is trying to compare state legislative websites on how.

50:22 - Jennifer Horne: Easy they are for like regular people to navigate and find information and it really does vary so much between the states like Kentucky and apparently North Carolina and then.

50:32 - Jennifer Horne: when you go to a state that’s doing it well, you notice and that’s Arizona and Florida are two you know, really good ones.

50:40 - Jennifer Horne: when you can find you know videos of subcommittee hearings are directly on the bill page like that’s a great.

50:46 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): that’s great. Lynda Kellam (she/her): um so there’s another Coby Condrey was asking how much of your job now is doing legislative research.

50:55 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): [cross talk] Jennifer Horne: practically zero.

51:00 - Jennifer Horne: You know, other than this is the my like air my area of like professional research, you know I do handle all the questions we get from people who are doing state legislative research but it’s not a lot.

51:13 - Jennifer Horne: I would love to do more because it’s clearly something I you know know a lot about and have a lot of experience in.

51:19 - Jennifer Horne: So I do try to help out all of my colleagues in the library, with different programs like I’ve done instruction, for example in public health.

51:29 - Jennifer Horne: for helping public health students figure out how to find legislative information trying to help MED Center medical students find bill information.

51:38 - Jennifer Horne: really does go across all the different disciplines, so I would like to be able to do more, but you know I don’t know that the interest in state legislative research is as high as as I would argue, it should be based on how important it is to your daily life.

51:51 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): yeah it’s really um there’s one more question so Barbara was asking or the aggregators comprehensive or would you recommend also searching states legislative websites.

52:02 - Jennifer Horne: They’re comprehensive in that they’re doing their they’re using an API to get all of the information from.

52:09 - Jennifer Horne: The website, so I would check to see how often it’s updated whether it’s updated every day, or if it’s not every day, if most of them, let you know how often they are updated.

52:21 - Jennifer Horne: really it’s just different ways of searching, sometimes I would never just use one if I was trying to.

52:29 - Jennifer Horne: to know if I was trying to write an article, for example, about how many states have lowered copays on.

52:35 - Jennifer Horne: insulin I would not just search one I’d be searching multiple I’d be searching news stories I’d be searching use databases.

52:41 - Jennifer Horne: I’d be doing all sorts of different things, because they just it’s just it’s very different like I said the copay versus co-pay with a hyphen made a difference in my search.

52:50 - Jennifer Horne: So you really do need to you know, like I said act like a detective and kind of come at this from lots of different ways.

52:57 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): And then yeah definitely and Jennifer’s question, I think, is there an easy way to figure out whether or not the topic makes more sense at the federal level or state level versus maybe the local level.

53:12 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): um interesting question.

53:14 - Jennifer Horne: yeah I mean it is because it, you like to think that there’s this hard and fast delineation between federal and state and local laws and that there really isn’t, as we can see from the the abortion, the voting rights, the police reform are all things being handled.

53:30 - Jennifer Horne: At all three levels really because local governments are our. I saw an article today that that a city in Ohio has banned abortion clinics from its boundaries like that. It’s have all these things are happening at all three levels.

53:47 - Jennifer Horne: And so other than the obvious things with like the interstate commerce aspect that are clearly.

53:54 - Jennifer Horne: resigned, for the Federal Government like you really do need to be checking lots of different I mean definitely there are very few things that state governments are not are not putting their hands in.

54:06 - Jennifer Horne: You know interstate commerce or even trying that but, like they’re maybe not declaring war, right now, but I, you know that’s probably coming.

54:17 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): Michael is suggesting Dave Daily his works it’s wondering if you familiar with it.

54:26 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): He wrote a couple of books related to.

54:34 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): Elections it looks like.

54:37 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): it’s work. Jennifer Horne: And yeah and another Book of the States used to have articles in it, and not just and I went away a couple years ago.

54:48 - Jennifer Horne: I was disappointed about it because I think the articles provided a lot of context for what was going on that year in the state legislatures.

54:56 - Jennifer Horne: But also you got to see the names of the people who are experts in the various areas, so you could, because we have people from NCSL write for us we’d have you know academic.

55:08 - Jennifer Horne: Researchers write for Book of the States so that’s another way to kind of become familiar with the people who are writing in this and researching in this field.

55:16 - Jennifer Horne: it’s also the people who write.

55:19 - Jennifer Horne: You know I’m always you know I recognize so many names of people who work at NCSL who are they’re election experts, you know they they’re the person on this issue.

55:30 - Jennifer Horne: So yeah there’s lots of great places to find experts in areas it’s not a it’s not a huge field, so you see the same names over and over again.

55:41 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): Right so I’m thinking more just thinking of the CQ weekly CQ researchers-style thing but that’s so focused on the federal there’s not really something that exists same way.

55:53 - Jennifer Horne: yeah I mean that’s you know Stateline like I said, is a great place to.

55:56 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): grow. Jennifer Horne: Because they’ve just got people focus on the State level, so you can see what issues they’re covering and sometimes you can have some great ideas from that about like what are things that are trending.

56:09 - Jennifer Horne: But it’s yeah there’s definitely not as much attention as.

56:12 - Jennifer Horne: We spend on. Jennifer Horne: Congress and what they’re doing or not doing and also you know elections it’s all presidential turnout and.

56:22 - Jennifer Horne: people. the down ballot races get so little attention and really they’re so important to people’s daily life that.

56:30 - Jennifer Horne: I wish people were much more focused on what state legislatures we’re doing and how it affects you how it affects your life, much more so than like I said Congress has passed 15 bills so far this year.

56:40 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): yeah no that’s that’s awesome yeah very important point it’s a great point for us to stop I wish I had watched this webinar when I was a first year librarian and because I just wondered it around and until I found the Book of the States.

56:57 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): When I got to ask a tough question my first couple of months in so.

57:02 - Jennifer Horne: yeah. Jennifer Horne: One of the reasons I proposed it is that one of my fellow Librarians there was a question from a student who was trying to find a Kentucky bill related to teachers he’s like I can’t find it, this is stupid, why can I.

57:15 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): start. Jennifer Horne: I was like oh you can’t do it there, and I, you know started Googling and I was trying to find the Kentucky Education Association, because I knew that they’d be opposed to it and would have the bill number, and he said, how do you know how to do this.

57:26 - Jennifer Horne: yeah and I did this for 20 years and then it kind of as the light bulb that other people might not have thought about the different ways to find state legislative information.

57:36 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): yeah very helpful, thank you very much, and was there any final questions we’re hitting the end of our time. Thank you so much Jennifer this is fantastic We thank you everybody for coming with a great group today.

57:52 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): I will say thank you Michigan for having a great website.

57:56 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): You know it hurts me to my bookie soul but I, yes, thank you, we will be back in September, I hope to see everyone then well actually will see everybody at GODORT events this summer.

58:08 - Lynda Kellam (she/her): Hopefully, in June, and then in September we’ll see you all back So yes, thank you and have a great week rest of your weekend weekend everyone thanks so much thank you. .