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California State Government Information: California Legislators

Guide to California State Government publications and information sources

Researching Legislators and their Legislation

This is a quick guide designed primarily for students in the California Politics class who have to write a paper persuading a state senator to vote one way or another on a particular bill.

1. Start with the Senate web pages. There's demographic information about the district and each Senator has a webpage that usually has info about the district, a newsletter, press releases, a list of sponsored legislation, biographical info, committee service info, etc. All of this should give you an idea about what the Senator considers important.

2. Search for your candiate on Project VoteSmart for information about interest group ratings, issue positions, and voting record.

3. The Secretary of State's Statement of Vote provides election results. You can look back at a few years to see whether the district tends to regularly elect one party or another and whether the margin is large or small.

4. The Legislature's Bill Tracking site will give you more detailed info about the bill you have to examine. It'll give you bill history, vote info for committees its gone through, the other house if it started there, and some analysis.

5. For more information, search the news (via a database like Access World News) to find stories about the Senator or the bill. You may find similar legislation or causes the Senator has supported. Researching the bill may lead to articles about other groups or politicians that support or oppose the legislation and why.