Legislative Research Librarians

Newsline Newsletter

Volume XXIII, No. 1

Spring 1999


Chair's Column
Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee
Annual Meeting
NCSL International Program
Coordinators' Corner
News from the States
What's New?
NCSL Publications


Chair's Column

by Anne Rottmann, Missouri
LRL Chair
Spring is a time when things wake up from their winter sleep. Accordingly, several things are happening now that involve our staff section. One is the selection of our recipients of the Legislative Staff Achievement Awards. Clare Cholik of South Dakota is the chair of the awards committee and she asks that nominations be sent to her ASAP. The deadline for reporting the award winners to NCSL is June 15. In the newsletter is a copy of our criteria for selection. Another award that LRL presents is the Notable Document Award. Deb Priest of New York is again heading up this committee. Please submit your nominations to her.
At the LSCC/Executive Committee meeting in April, Kathy Brennan Wiggins of the International Program announced that NCSL was submitting a proposal to help emerging democracies by providing a pool of international consultants. Read more about it in an article in this issue.
Now that spring is winding down, it's time to consider attending NCSL's Annual Meeting in Indianapolis July 24-28. The officers have worked to try to bring you a set of programs that you will like. Donna Scheeder of Congressional Research Service is presenting a program on Congress on the Web. She will take us on a tour of key websites for tracking federal legislation, as well as information about the people and institutions that create them. She will discuss the criteria used to select these sources and invite the participants to share some of their favorite sites. Genie Tyburski has agreed to speak to us about evaluating the quality of search information, Internet myths and difficulties using search engines. She will also make a presentation about searching government sites on the Internet to civics teachers attending the Project Citizen meeting. LRL members are being asked to help with this, so I hope some of you will consider staying for Genie's second presentation.
Susan Southworth is organizing a roundtable discussion on several topics including: purchasing/ acquisition issues, the impact of electronic products in library collections, electronic/digital reference, online catalogs on an intranet or the Internet, and the issue of legislative libraries being depositories for state documents. Finally, we plan a visit to the state capitol and the state library. Of course, you will want to be on hand for our business meeting! Hoping to see some familiar faces and some new ones as well.

Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee

April 16-17
Asheville, North Carolina

Task Force on Planning and Designing a Legislature for the Future

by Clare Cholik
Task force members spent time sharing information on the research they had conducted since the last meeting on the various factors that will most likely influence the legislature of the future. These factors included the social factors such as the impact of Generation X, political factors such as the changes taking place within political parties and the emergence of direct democracy, and economic factors such as the blossoming global economy. From here, the group hopes to investigate the technological and environmental factors that could also impact the legislature's future and then begin to define the critical uncertainties that exist for legislatures and some possible future scenarios.
During the upcoming Annual Meeting, the task force will meet with Alan Rosenthal, Professor at the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University, for a brainstorming session.

Task Force on Promoting Public Service and the Legislative Institution

by Anne Rottmann
The task force reviewed the results of the legislative video survey and talked about the proposal for the video "A Day in the Life of a Public Servant." It was decided that Jenifer Noland, Kentucky, would update the storyboard to be used as a handout at the Annual Meeting for those interested in trying to develop a similar script.
The task force decided to sponsor a concurrent session on legislative videos at Annual Meeting. Three states' videos would be highlighted as good examples. Idaho, Ohio and either California or New Jersey are the ones being considered. To attract people to the session, a continuous tape "teaser" will be shown in the legislative lounge. To help market the session, the task force will work with the Legislative Effectiveness Committee, the Public Information Officers, the Leadership Staff Section, the Leader's Advisory Group and the State Government Affairs Council. An article will be written taking information from the video survey to provide suggestions to those who might be interested in creating a video. It was suggested that an additional survey be conducted to locate all the legislative - related videos that have been produced. The task force will work with the public information officers on this effort.
To promote and reward efforts in civic education by a legislature, the task force has decided to develop an award to be first presented in the year 2000. The task force agreed that:
  • The award should go to a legislature, not an individual or a group.
  • The key criterion should be the promotion of the legislature as an institution, showing its vital connection to democracy.
  • The civic education has to be a global effort reaching seniors, Generation Xers and students.
  • While rewarding a total effort, the award should highlight one success, a prototype or exemplary effort.
  • If the Center for Education connection is good, the task force should ask them to be a partner in judging.
  • Legislators should be on the panel of judges.
  • The Chair and Staff Chair of NCSL should appoint a (small) panel of judges for the award.

The task force will try to encourage the teachers and students in attendance for the Project Citizen award to attend the concurrent session on legislative videos on Tuesday morning, July 27, and have a meeting with them over the lunch period.

*Thanks to Bruce Feustel, Senior Fellow at NCSL and our staff liaison to the task force, for providing this information.


Executive Committee

Program Planning & Oversight Subcommittee

by Jonetta Douglas
The subcommittee discussed plans for Annual Meeting, looked at the brochure and talked about hotels in Indianapolis. There was brief discussion about the plenary speakers and speakers for both the legislator and staff luncheons. A representative was there from Maribeth Smith and Associates, the firm working with Indiana on host activities.
Bill Pound and Doug Sacarto reported on the NCSL communications program, which includes the web site redesign, as well as the design of publications and other materials distributed by NCSL.
Civic education continues to be a significant item for this subcommittee. The Task Force on Public Service and the Legislative Institution (from LSCC) is working diligently on this effort. Karl Kurtz is the NCSL staff person most involved with Project Citizen, and he provided a progress report on civic education efforts already initiated by the subcommittee.
Carl Tubbesing reported on happenings in the NCSL Washington office. Rich Jones reported on NCSL state assignments and outreach programs.

Promoting and Developing Professionalism for Legislative Staff

by Susan Southworth
At our last meeting, Alice Boler Ackerman, Colorado Legislative Legal Services, was charged with the responsibility of researching the potential legal action for damages if a conference participant received a negative rating (either specifically or by implication by not being included) on the trainer data base. She reported finding no case law directly on point. Discussion ensued on methods of minimizing legal concerns by: placing a disclaimer on the page; giving notice about the database and its rating criteria to each speaker; and/or including only recommended speakers, excluding those who get poor ratings. The last suggestion would change the nature of the database, though, which some attendees felt would strongly limit its usefulness.
In Bill Marx's absence, Clare Cholik handed out information and fielded questions on the Staff Information Booth for Indianapolis. The booth will be centrally located, clearly labeled as to purpose, with local volunteers close by to handle all those conference-related questions that inevitably come to the wrong location. Once again, the booth will spotlight the Staff Achievement Award winners; it was also suggested that the new NCSL CD-ROM be continuously shown. Volunteers solicited from each staff section's leadership and LSCC members will be asked to serve in groups of three. Unfortunately, LSCC meetings conflict with some of the hours the booth is open, so other LRL volunteers will be needed. It's easy and fun and only last 90 minutes!
There was a brief discussion of how to enliven and shorten the presentation of the Staff Achievement Awards at Annual Meeting. Also, the education and health staff networks have requested authority to give out such awards.
Ron Snell (NCSL) gave a follow-up report on outreach to legislative personnel offices. NCSL is redesigning its 1-2-3 Guide as well as completing the CD-ROM on NCSL services, both of which will be ready for Annual Meeting. Ron will update the list of personnel officers this fall.
Ron also reported on NCSL's experience hosting a national Internet/video conference, a frequently-suggested method of attracting broader numbers of persons to NCSL functions without the costs associated with travel, lodging and lost time. Most of the expense is borne by the providing organization; in this case, Robert Wood Johnson underwrote the program, and was quite pleased with the effort, reaching over 200 attendees in all 50 states. Since this format can provide timely information to a large user group, it should be further studied with an eye to reducing costs and presentation pitfalls.
The last subject was a proposal for a National Education Policy Institute for legislative education staff, co-sponsored by NCSL and the Southeastern Regional Vision for Education at UNC-Chapel Hill. Activities would include a six-day policy institute and two intensive three-day studies of emerging issues for institute graduates and senior legislative staff. If the concept is approved at Annual Meeting and funding is secured, there would be no tuition or housing charges. 

Annual Meeting Roundtable
Calling All Participants
by Susan Southworth
Anne has asked me to coordinate the roundtable discussion in order to "get my feet wet." Current topics, culled from Newsline responses and personal requests are:
  • Electronic Products
  • impact on the collection
  • download vs. purchase
  • publishers' elimination of some print documents, esp. govt documents
  • cataloging to URLs
  • Acquisitions
  • use of government purchasing card
  • legislative libraries as depository libraries
  • digital reference
  • catalogs on Inter/intranet
  • situational ethics?
OK, now I need a panel. People have been asking for a roundtable discussion, which, by definition, is dependent upon individuals' input. (I feel like National Public Radio during a pledge drive!) Here's your argument to convince leadership to send you to Indianapolis! Contact me by email (susan.southworth@po.state.ct.us) or by phone (860-240-8888) to say you can participate on the panel or with any comments on the roundtable topics. Looking forward to hearing from you!

NCSL International Program

by Joyce Honaker, Legislative Research Commission, Kentucky
Interested in Promoting Democracy Around the World?
Would you like to assist new legislatures and legislative staff in developing democracies? Do you have a foreign language proficiency and/or professional skills and experience that can support NCSL's efforts to provide technical assistance to legislative institutions abroad? Then NCSL's International Program Staff wants to hear from you!
With democracy arising in many countries, new legislative institutions are looking to us for models of legislative operation, management, and the development of public initiatives. NCSL has been awarded a number of grants and contracts to perform in these areas and is proud to be recognized as the premier source of experience and expertise in the field of legislative strengthening around the world.
NCSL is developing a pool of U.S. state legislative staff that it may call upon for future technical assistance projects. You can obtain and complete an application form to be a part of NCSL's international consultants' pool by visiting the NCSL Website or calling Kathy Brennan Wiggins in NCSL's Washington Office (202/624-5400). To find out more about NCSL's International Program, call the Washington office.

Coordinators' Corner

News for this column is gathered by a dedicated team of coordinators who call and fax to libraries and librarians in their regions to get the latest news and ask preassigned questions.
The question for this issue: As a legislative librarian, what sources of information do you find particularly useful? Please include electronic sources as well as the traditional ones.

Coordinator CLARE CHOLIK, South Dakota Legislative Research Council

from Clare
One site that I have found useful when I need an answer in a hurry is located at http://www.library.unt.edu/info/willis/genref/QuickRef/toplevel.asp. It provides a list of quick reference tools that you may not have on your shelves.
Randi Madisen, Legislative Reference Library, Minnesota
Links to the World! (on the MN Leg. Ref. Library site)
NCSL's list of web sites of state legislatures
Newspapers online and on the web
Marilyn Guttromson, Legislative Council Library, North Dakota
In addition to web pages for NCSL, National Association of State Budget Officers, Education Commission of the States, Thomas and various legal resource sites, the North Dakota Legislative Council uses InFo People's Best Search Tools at http://www.infopeople.org/src/srctools.html
Once on the home page, we use Inference Find most often as it searches AltaVista, Excite, Infoseek, Lycos, Webcrawler, and Yahoo at once and fast. Watch for the LRL core collection guide to recommend basic resources for legislative libraries. There's a committee at work on it now.

Coordinator MARIAN ROGERS, Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau

from Marian
Several electronic and manual sources are very valuable to us. Our Wisconsin documents librarian relies heavily on Wisconsin Blue Books. Throughout the legislative session we refer to various budget documents and summaries. We use a variety of web sites: Biblio Tech Review (news about the automation industry and library technology) http://www.biblio-tech.com/biblio/ ; the Internet Scout project
http://scout.cs.wisc.edu/scout/http://scout.cs.wisc.edu/scout/ ; WisCat (statewide bibliographic database of holdings of Wisconsin libraries) http://wiscat.brodart.com/ ; BadgerLink (database of information resources and full text of journals and articles) http://www.dpi.state.wi.us/badgerlink/ ; as well as other states' agencyweb sites and directories that cover the entire nation.
Debbie Tavenner, Ohio Legislative Service Commission
Through the Columbus Metropolitan Library, I have access to Proquest Direct from UMI. I especially like the National Newspaper database of 27 papers. Usually the full-text is available. It is an excellent source to consult to get an idea of happenings across the country. There is no charge for this service, but a library card is required. It is web-based. It is such a convenience to be able to retrieve the full-text of articles without using microfilm, interlibrary loan, or fee-based services.

Coordinator TRACEY KIMBALL New Mexico Legislative Council Service Library

from Tracey
Of course we rely a lot on almost anything the NCSL publishes and also CSG material, so I've tried to list our best-used things from other sources. I've also excluded sources for our own state information, but could provide a list to anyone interested.
State Rankings: A Statistical View of the 50 United States. Lawrence KS: Morgan Quitno. annual.
Constitutions of the United States, with updates. Dobbs Ferry NY: Oceana Press.
State Tax Guide: All States, with updates. Chicago IL: CCH Incorporated.
Also the CQ Congressional and Federal Staff Directories (we only get one edition per year)
Governing, National Journal, U.S. Law Week
Full-text state statutes and legislation on the Internet, www.prairienet.org/~scruffy/f.htm
Federal Court Locator, www.vcilp.org/Fed-Ct/fedcourt.html
State Court Locator, www.law.vill.edu/State-Ct/index.html
the Publications Library at Dow Jones Interactive, www.djinteractive.com (fee-based)
Anne Billings, Texas Legislative Reference Library
Vernon's Texas Statutes and Codes, ANN. (Print, CD-ROM and Online)
Texas Almanac
New Handbook of Texas
Texas Law Librarian's Homepage
Dale Steele, Arizona Department of Library
Print Sources:
State Yellow Book
Judicial Yellow Book
Federal Yellow Book
Who's Who in the Executive and Legislative Branches of the 50 State Governments (New York, NY: Leadership Directories, Inc., 1999)
Lexis Law on Disc for Arizona
CD-ROM Lexis Federal Law on Disc/USCS
Online Services
Congressional Universe
First Search/Wilson Select and Fast Doc
Web sites
Law and Legislative Issues
FindLaw: www.findlaw.com/casccode/supreme.html
U.S. House of Representatives Internet Law Library: law.house.gov
Congressional Record Index: www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/aces150.html
National Conference of State Legislators: www.ncsl.org/index.htm
FedStats: www.fedstats.gov
Statistical Abstract of the United States: ww.census.gov/prod/3/98pubs/98statab/cc98stab.htm
MetLife Statistical Bulletin index: www.metlife.com/Sb/Index/Docs/95index.html
Latest Federal Government Statistics: www.whitehouse.gov/WH/html/briefroom.html#fsbr
U.S. Bureau of Labord Statistics Economy at a Glance: stats.bls.gov/eag.table.html
U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics: www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs
U.S. Department of Transportation Bureau of Transportation Statistics: www.bts.gov
Consumer Reports Online: www.consumerreports.org
Congressional Research Service Selected Reports: www.senate.gov/~dpc/crs/index.html
Minnesota Legislative Reference Library Linds to the World: www.leg.state.mn.us/lrl/links/links.htm
National Atlas of the United States: www-atlas.usgs.gov/mapit.html
Census 2000 Redistricting Data Program: www.census.gov/clo/www/redistricting.html
Education Week on the Web Report Cards: www.edweek.org/sreports/qc99/states/grades/rc-map.htm
U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service Fact Sheet: www.econ.ag.gov/epubs/other/usfact/US.HTM
USGS National Water-Use Information Program Fact Sheet: water.usgs.gov/watuse/wufactsheet.html#HDR6
US HHS Administration for Children and Famlies Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) 1936-1998: www.acf.dhhs.gov/news/press/1998/3697.htm
US EPA Envirofacts Warehouse: www.epa.gov/enviro/index_java.html
US Department of Commerce NAFTA Home Page: www.iep.doc.gov/nafta/nafta2.htm
Web Search Engines
Local Government Sites
The Publications Library at Dow Jones Interactive, http://www.djinteractive.com./ (fee-based)

Coordinator JOYCE GRIMES, South Carolina Legislative Library

from Joyce
I depend upon the 1999 Staff Contacts Directory for the Legislative Research Librarians along with the various print resources for my state information: Journals, Acts, Codes, biographical directories, etc.
For in-state searching, I use the various state agency web sites, along with the two legislative information sites: leginfo and legis. For out-of-state searching, West Group database and applicable federal government sites.
Cheryl Jackson, Virginia Legislative Reference Center
We rely heavily on the NCSL website and all of its publications. We have also found the Book of the States, Suggested State Legislation (both CSG), State Rankings (Morton Quigno Corp.), U.S. and Virginia Statistical Abstracts and Encyclopedia of Associations (Gale) to be most valuable. Like our colleagues, we try to collect as much 50-state comparative information as possible.
David Warner, Maryland Library and Information Services
For national print resources I tend to like directories, telephone books, and statistical sources. These include:
the Leadership Directories Yellow Book series: Federal Yellow Book, Congressional Yellow Book, State Yellow Book, Municipal Yellow Book
Encyclopedia of Associations
Washington Information Directory
Statistical Abstract of the United States
CQ's State Fact Finder
Morgan Quitno's State Rankings
Book of the States
State Leadership Directory
Resource varies with the question asked. Since much of the work is legal some frequently used legal resources:
These two resources link to the full text of state statutes--Full State Statutes on the Internet--http://www.prairienet.org/~scruffy/f.htm
State Law: State Government and Legislative Information--www.washlaw.edu/uslaw/statelaw.html#allstates
Thomas for congressional information--http://thomas.loc.gov/
Cornell, Villanova, and Washburn Universities have good general websites with links to both state and federal courts--
For federal court sites Cornell University, Emory University, and Villanova University are the most frequently used--
Supreme Court decisions--http://supct.law.cornell.edu/supct/
The Library of Congress has a list of the official
websites of the federal government at
GPO Access provides access to federal law and
U.S. Census Bureau at http://www.census.gov/
Fedstats provides links to federal statistics at
If I am unable to find the needed information quickly from a bookmarked resource, I tend to just use a search engine favoring

Coordinator IRENE STONE, California Research Bureau

Emily Quinn, Idaho Legislative Reference Library
Cornell links to all states statutes: <http://www.law.cornell.edu/statutes
David Harrell, Oregon Legislative Library
Electric Library
GPO Gate for U.S. government
Shirley Dallas, Washington State Library, Documents
ProQuest (for Washington and Oregon newspapers
Ebsco (for abstracts of articles)
OVID (medline)
Mary Pagenkopf, Alaska Legislative Reference Library
Alaska's web site:
Top ten on Alaska's Legislative Research web site:
NCSL; Findlaw; Thomas; Search the US Code; Search the CFR; Constitutions, Statutes, Codes of other states (from the Cornell University Law School); Policy.com; Electronic Policy Network; Capitol City Libraries; National Center for State Courts (links to state courts, federal and international); The Urban Institute; and the U.S. Census Bureau.
Other links on Alaska's web site: Searching; Other States; Laws/Legal Links; Federal Information; Alaska; Policy and Politics; News; Specific Subjects: criminal justice; environment; health/social services; native/rural; science, data sources; and miscellaneous.
Carolyn Zeitler, California Research Bureau
Rand Corporation
California Legislative Analyst
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

News from the States

The Ohio Legislative Information Office became part of the Ohio Legislative Service Commission on April 26, 1999. Administratively the office is part of the LSC Library. Formerly, the four employees of the office were split between the Senate and House Clerk. The staff answer an in-state 800 telephone number providing callers with the status of legislation, assist in identifying legislation, provide information about the caller's representative or senator, take messages, and make referrals to other state agencies. Currently, the office is located in the State House, but it will move to the LSC Library. So soon we will be under construction to rework the space for four new employees.
From South Carolina: In observance of Freedom of Information Day March 16, the South Carolina State Library selected the South Carolina Code of Laws as one of the ten most notable South Carolina state government publications for 1998. We were recognized for making available full text search capabilities of the Code of Laws on the world wide web at www.lpitr.state.sc.us/code/statmast.htm
This year the General Assembly proceedings via audio and video are available on the world wide web.
Joyce M. Grimes, M.L.I.S. has been selected to attend the 1999 LSMI this summer in Minnesota.
The Legislative Library is moving to its new location this summer. The library will be located in the Capitol Complex area, in the Dennis Building, about a stone's throw from the State House. Address and telephone number will remain the same.
The Virginia Legislative Reference Center has hired a new staff person. Her name is Alice Winn, her position is Research Associate, she has an MPA from the University of Delaware, and most recently worked for the Delaware legislature performing research in the transportation area. She's absolutely great. Her phone number is the same as Cheryl Jackson's, 804/786-3591, and her email is awinn@leg.state.va.us.

What's New?

Latest News on PDS
The fall Professional Development Seminar's theme will be "Legislative Reference in a Digital Age." Mark your calendars for October 14-16, Sacramento, Hyatt Hotel ($118/night), meeting registration will be $190.
from ALA News
Government Backpedals on Fee-Based Search Service
Although the U.S. Commerce Department has put its plans on hold to charge users for a new service that searches millions of government Web sites and databases, its private-sector partner intends to proceed with the fee-based project.
When the Gov.search service was launched May 17 with a $15 daily or $30 monthly fee, critics charged that it violated the Clinton administration's promise to make the Internet and government data more accessible. The next day the National Technical Information Service, which developed the service in partnership with Northern Light Technology, announced that it would be temporarily available for free while the government reviewed its information-dissemination policy.
Northern Light CEO David Seuss said May 19 the firm would offer free two-week trials of the product while administration officials decide whether to remain involved. Explaining that Northern Light financed the project and owns the URL and intellectual property associated with the search engine, Seuss told the New York Times' Cybertimes that "the Commerce Department does not actually have the authority to halt the service or to change the pricing model."
Coalition Asks FCC Site to Offer Balanced View of Filters
Civil liberties groups are asking the Federal Communications Commission to disclose the shortcomings of Internet filters in its new Web site that provides information on technologies parents can use to protect their children from harmful or inappropriate material.
In a May 13 letter to FCC Chair William E. Kennard, the Internet Free Expression Alliance requested that the agency's Parents, Kids, and Communications page, which includes links to filtering companies' Web sites, also link to reports about how the products block access to nonobjectionable material.
Noting that "several independent studies of these products indicate that the vendors often gloss over some of the serious shortcomings of their filtering systems," the letter stressed that "an objective and useful information page must apprise parents of these findings."
The Internet Free Expression Alliance is a coalition of 13 national organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, People for the American Way, and the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

NCSL Publications

Copies of all NCSL publications listed here are available from the Marketing Department at 303/830-2200, unless otherwise noted.


Redistricting Law 2000
Transmitting Wind Energy: Issues and Options in Competitive Electric Markets
Teen and Traffic: Reducing the Risk
CHIP Annual Report and CHIP Enabling Legislation
State Tax Actions 1998
Professional Development in Colorado
Closure for the Seventh Generation: A Report from the Stewardship Committee of the State and Tribal
Government Working Group
Native American Issues: 1998 State Legislation
Campaign Finance, Ethics and Lobbying Legislation 1998


Abstinence Education, Vol.7, No.19
The ABCs of Hepatitis, Vol.7, No.20
Truth in Sentencing, Vol.7, No.21
Boating Under the Influence, Vol.7, No.22
College Students, Credit Cards and Debt, Vol.7, No.23
Child Support and Education Expenses Past the Age of 18, Vol.7, No.24
Campaign Finance Reform, Vol.7, No.25
College Students, Credit Cards & Debt, Part II, Vol.7, No.26
Setting Priorities for Bills, Vol.7, No.27
States and Census 2000, Vol.7, No.28
Native American Remains and Burial Items, Vol.7, No.29
Insurance Coverage of Contraceptives,Vol.7, No.30
State Legislative Reports
Personal Assistance for People with Disabilities
The Challenge of Siting Low-Level Radioactive Waste Facilities
Paratransit Transportation for People with Disabilities: Issues to Consider
1998 State Legislative Responses to the Adoption and Safe Family Act of 1997
Legislative Finance Paper: State Death Taxes
Thanks to all of the staff section members who submitted columns and information for this issue. We welcome your ideas and submissions. Newsline is published four times annually by NCSL's Legislative Research Librarians Staff Section.