Legislatures on the 'Net.' (Internet's World Wide Web)

Article excerpt

Tracking the legislative process is easy if you have access to the Internet's World Wide Web. Legislative information from 41 states is available on the Internet, with additional states or more information being added almost daily. Bill status information, copies of bills and state laws, and information about individual legislators is now available on the Internet in many states. Most legislative sites provide information through the World Wide Web, an easy-to-use, graphical interface to the Internet. Some legislatures also provide information through gopher (software that provides access to information through menus) or through a combination of World Wide Web, gopher and other Internet connections.

Legislative home pages on the Web have colorful graphics and photographs of state Capitol or official legislative seals. A few states offer "virtual tours" of their Capitols. The majority of legislative Internet sites include information about legislators, committees, committee schedules and basic information about legislative procedures or guides to how a bill becomes a law. At least 25 state legislatures provide bill status or bill history information, ranging from simple lists of bill titles to sophisticated searchable data bases of legislative information. Twenty states include the full text of bills on-line. In about two-thirds of those states, bills are searchable. Additional states provide summaries of bills on the Internet.

Some sites provide forms where citizens can enter their home zip code or city name and locate their senator or representative. Some provide a "home page" for individual lawmakers that can include photographs, lists of legislative activities or committee memberships and biographical information. At least 12 states provide legislators' electronic mail addresses, so that citizens can send messages directly to them.

NCSL's home page at http://www.ncsl.org provides hypertext links to state legislative sites, in addition to other useful government resources. Hypertext links appear on the computer screen as underlined Words. When users dick on the state name, using a mouse, they are connected directly to that site.

RELATED ARTICLE: State Legislative Information on the Internet(*)

Alabama Alaska California Colorado Connecticut Delaware Florida Georgia(**) Hawaii Idaho Illinois Indiana Kansas(**) Kentucky Louisiana Maryland Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Mississippi Missouri Montana New Jersey New Mexico New York North Carolina North Dakota Ohio Oregon Pennsylvania South Carolina South Dakota Texas Utah Vermont Virginia Washington Wisconsin Wyoming

* As of Oct. …