DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!
Feb 4 2013

Informed Citizen

by Amanda L

GovTrackOver the last few weeks the Georgia General Assembly and congress have gotten back to work creating and passing laws. Years ago, the only way to find out what these legislative bodies were working on or the “hot” topics for the year was through the press or in the case of congress, the Congressional Record. As with anything in today’s society, raw information is available almost instantaneously and is searchable.

On the national level, the place to find this information is GovTrack. This website allows you to follow legislation through the legislative branch. You can see what is on the docket for the current week, laws that have recently been enacted, passed resolutions and active legislation all from the front page.

To research more in depth, you can browse by subject or  search for a particular legislation. There are statistics for each of the Congresses on how many laws they have enacted, how many resolutions were passed, how many bills were sent to the president, how many inactive legislative actions there was for a session, how many legislative bills failed and how many were vetoed by the president. If you click on the number within each category of legislation, the details about the legislation will display. So for example, if I clicked on  active legislation for this congressional session (113th), it would list and display information on all five current active bills in front of congress.

Interested in congress specifically and not legislation? This website allows you to locate your senators and representative by providing your address. The site allows you to see how each senator and representative voted on any legislation or resolution. If there is a related bill that went through the Legislative branch it will link to that bill also and give you voting records. What I love most about this site is that you can search how congress voted all the way back to the 1st Congress.

The State of Georgia has a website that allows you to follow legislation through the General Assembly. It is not as comprehensive as the federal site for historical purposes but to be an informed citizen, it is useful. On this website daily you can see what is on the agenda for the General Assembly. There is a list of first reads of bills for both the House and Senate. Within the list, you can tell which legislative person was involved in the introduction of the bill and the actual wording of the bill. The website also lists how each State Senator and House of Representative voted on a bill.

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