Today launches the 2009 Legislative session for the country and for Kentucky.

While working as a law librarian I embraced the humor in the question of inexperienced legislative history researchers.  The reality is that  Kentucky has very little intent on record for our legislative iniatives.

Often the most powerful tools in our search for legislative history and intent are bill versions and news articles.  The LRC’s bill file is a crap shoot in terms of the amount of information found and the archive for those tools is limited.  If you are lucky a regulation is passed and you can track down the “purpose” in those records.

In terms of tracking current legislative actions, Kentucky has come far.  The Bill Watch service is a vast improvement.  Introduced in 2008, I found it to be a time-saver in keeping track of the various bills of interest.  The search engine is not perfectly accurate but the Index terms are well-established and serve as a great way to choose the legislative topics to track.

I did not trust the automation completely during the last session and often complemented the “alert” with my own manual review to ensure I did not miss major activities on the most important bills I was tracking.

Still this tracking service beats the paper any day.  So for all of you law librarians out there keeping tabs on the new bills I wish you well and encourage you to get very comfortable with the advantages and limitations of the legislative tracking tools that are offered.

By Answer Maven January 6, 2009