Non-Media Dependent Resources to Track Federal and State Legislatures

In the quest for both timely and factual information about what’s taking place in the government on both the federal and state level, there are a number of websites available offering just such information.

As internet users, there’s no need to be solely dependent on the media as the purveyors of facts that all too often come amid editorial rhetoric or interpretation. The sites listed, while not exhaustive of all that are available, are a compilation of both governmental and non-governmental run websites that offer users a variety of services from the bare basics to those that include tools for action and/or interaction.

Diagram of media sources and their political objectivity

Partial list of media sources and their political objectivity

Online Government Resources for Tracking the Federal Legislative Branches

Congress.gov: Launched in beta in 2012 by the Library of Congress, first to supplement the already-existing THOMAS.gov, and on July 5, 2016, to replace THOMAS.gov completely. Congress.gov is a collaborative effort between the LOC, the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives and the Government Publishing Office.

At this site, the user can track bill status, bill text, committee reports, the Congressional Record and more. Executive branch activities such as nominations, treaties and communications are also accessible here. The LOC provides free web-based training for new users of Congress.gov. Upcoming training dates and other frequently asked questions can be found at Congress.gov/help/faq. Site users can also sign up to receive email updates on topics you are tracking.

Online Non-Governmental Resources for Tracking the Federal Legislative Branches

GovTrack.us: Launched in 2004, GovTrack is a project of Civic Impulse, LLC. The site allows the visitor to track various legislation being debated in Congress. This site advocates for and is part of an open data collaborative, a nonpartisan group fostering transparency and accountability in government. Gov.Track has accounts on both Twitter and Facebook.

This site offers a service that will provide email updates to the user as legislation you are tracking moves through Congress. EmailCongress is available at the site, which allows you to directly email your elected representatives from the site. OpenCongress, a like-site that was run by the nonpartisan and nonprofit Sunlight Foundation, began directing site visitors to GovTrack.us in February 2016 to avoid duplication of services.

CQRollCall.com: Run by a non-partisan media group, this site provides congressional news and legislative tracking. Both federal and state legislatures can be accessed via this site. The site offers a feature on how to track federal legislation. In addition, the site offers advocacy services to those interested in participating.

BillTrack50.com: This site, run by LegiNation, requires a free sign-up to be able to search and use its federal and state legislature tracking information. Created in 2011, BillTrack50 has both Twitter and Facebook accounts. A Pro Version is also available.

Lobbyists.info: “Your Lobbying Information Resource” is this site’s tagline. In addition to tracking legislation and legislatures, this site also tracks congressional committees and subcommittees and Hill staff, along with the 37,000 federal lobbyists – including those who are unregistered. A free trial of the site’s services is offered, after which a paid registration is required to maintain access.

PopVox.com: PopVox explains itself to be a “civic engagement platform” that utilizes real-time federal and state legislative data to bring information to site users. In addition to providing legislative and legislator tracking on both the federal and state level, the site provides an easily-usable program to allow those who are interested to contact their elected officials via email. Site visitors can make their views on a bill known, or choose not to participate in that. Site users can create and maintain a civic profile on the site, one possible step in the site’s advocacy program. PopVox has both a Twitter and Facebook account.

Online Resources for Tracking State Legislatures

NCSL.org: The National Conference of State Legislatures provides a comprehensive website that is searchable for legislative and legislation information in all 50 states.

CQRollCall.com: Run by a media group who describes itself as non-partisan, both 50 state and federal legislatures and legislation can be accessed here. The site offers a feature on how to track state legislation and offers advocacy services for those interested.

BillTrack50.com: A site run by LegiNation, created in 2011 from its home base of Denver, Colorado, registered users (registration is free) can access both federal and state legislatures and legislation. This site offers a Pro Version as well.

PopVox.com: The site is a self-proclaimed “civic engagement platform” providing free access to site users to track both legislation and legislators in all 50 states as well as the federal level. A registered user can sign up for email updates on topics or specific bills of interest.

Additional Resources

WhiteHouse.gov: This governmental site allows site visitors to keep up with the activity taking place in the federal government’s executive branch, including nominations and appointments and executive orders.

naeyc.org: The National Association for the Education of Young Children has provided an easily digestible explanation of the step in making a bill into a law.

C-SPAN.org: Offered as a public service by American cable and satellite network television, C-SPAN provides extensive coverage of all three branches of the federal government, both live and archived.

If you’ve had experience with any of these websites, or know of additional resources, please add them in the comment section.


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