Tracking State and City Legislation: Tips
New York State Legislature
- The Assembly and Senate websites allow you to search for legislation from recent session years by: keyword, bill number, committee, or sponsor. The sites provide bill text, status, summaries, sponsors memos, committee votes and floor votes, along with committee agendas. Both also allow you to watch legislative floor sessions and broadcasts of committee meetings. The Senate provides free bill status alerts that provide subscribers with email notifications when a bill of interest has some action.
- The New York Legislative Retrieval System (LRS) website allows you to search for bills dating back to 1995 by bill number, keyword, chapter number and others, and provides bill text, status, summaries, sponsors memos and floor votes. The site also provides access to floor calendars, committee agendas, chaptered laws, and veto and approval messages from the Governor.
New York City Council
- The City Council website allows you to search for legislation dating back to 1998 using the same criteria as the State sites. You can also search by different periods of time (session, year, month, week, day) so you can view bills that have been acted on recently or will be acted on during the upcoming week. In addition to the bill text, status, summaries and voting records, you can also find committee reports, hearing transcripts and videos of hearings and stated meetings of the full Council.
Other Tools for Tracking Legislation
Besides periodically checking a bill’s status on the aforementioned websites, you can:
- set up a Google alert for the bill or issue, which will provide you with email updates when there is related news;
- subscribe to action alerts or periodically check the websites of advocacy organizations, interest groups or trade associations that may be following the
- subscribe to the email newsletters of the legislators who are sponsoring bills you’re following or call their offices and ask if you can receive updates; and
- sign up for newsletters (where available) from the City Council, Senate and Assembly. For instance you can sign up to receive email updates from the Council Legislative Calendar or from certain Senate/Assembly legislative committees.
Keep In Mind...
- Bill numbers at the state-level are active for 2-year cycles; city-level bill numbers are active for 4-year cycles. If a bill doesn’t become law during those periods, then it must be reintroduced in the next term, at which point it receives a new bill
- Each time a bill is amended, it receives a letter at the end; “A” indicates the first amendment, “B” indicates the second amendment, etc. Once a bill is amended, the previous version no longer exists.
- Bills in the NYS Legislature or City Council have to be placed on a committee agenda and then voted out of committee before they can be considered for a floor vote. Committee agendas and hearing notices are posted on each legislative body’s website and in some cases you can sign up to receive email notifications when new agendas are released or hearings are scheduled. See “How a Bill Becomes a Law” links for more information on the legislative process. (NYS | NYC)