Tara Calishain is the co-author of Official Netscape Guide to Internet Research, 2nd Edition, and author or co-author of four other books. She is the owner of CopperSky Writing & Research.
In This Issue:
The Latest on Legal Research
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One of the biggest trends I’ve noticed in the last year is the rapid increase of state Web sites expanding their offerings. It wasn’t that long ago that the
average state Web site was a hearty welcome from the governor (audio files optional), a few pictures, a phone book, and that’s it.
But that’s changed. Now state Web sites offer everything from databases of licensed professionals to health department information on restaurant. For the
next seven weeks we’ll go on a tour of United States’ Web sites and take a look at some highlights. Let’s get started, shall we? Onward to Alabama!
Alabama – http://www.state.al.us/
Look, there’s a picture of the governor! :-> Some things don’t change. Alabama’s Web site is still under some development (they’re putting a text version of their Web site together) but there’s still plenty to see here. There are several different databases for checking the status of professional license holders in Alabama, from Architects to Social Workers, at
http://www.state.al.us/2k1/info/links-licenses.asp. (Different departments care for different license databases.)
Just off the state site, but linked from the front page, is Alabama Maps at http://alabamamaps.ua.edu/. This site contains both historical and contemporary maps of Alabama (and other states and countries, too.) Many of the maps available contain information on cultural physical elements of the state — climate, forestry, demographics, agriculture, etc.
Alaska – http://www.state.ak.us/
“Alaska… cool.” I guess so, huh? Anyway, this site includes a collection of government news about Alaska at http://www.state.ak.us/local/news.html. Some of it’s pretty lightweight stuff — a governor’s picnic in Fairbanks, for example — but there’s also information about bills and government agency activities.
Just off the front page, the Alaska Court System site, at http://www.alaska.net/~akctlib/index.htm , provides links to statutes, the Alaska Administrative Code, and a list of links to online municipal codes for local areas. This part of the site is worth a lot of exploring.
Arizona – http://azportal.clearlake.ibm.com/webapp/portal/
From the icy lands of Alaska to the land of the Grand Canyon. Arizona has a great business portal at http://www.az.gov/webapp/portal/business.jsp; the site
includes searches for corporations, trademarks and trade names, and registered lobbyists. There’s also a page on starting a business in Arizona, a guide to licensing requirements, and instructors for vendors to do business with the state.
Arizona also has a monster “Blue Book” here. The page, which is laid out like a clickable table of contents, includes information about the state’s history, symbols, executive branch, college and university system (nicely done!), legislative system, Native American population, and Arizona State Constitution. (Who knew that any state had “Official State Neckwear”?
Arkansas – http://www.state.ar.us/
Arkansas ends up the A’s with a state site that’s still very much in progress — there’s a prime spot on their front page that’s marked “Coming Online Soon — but there’s still stuff to look at.
Arkansas has a licensed attorney search available at http://courts.state.ar.us/attylist/, but though there’s a link to an Arkansas code search at http://www.arkleg.state.ar.us/lpbin/lpext.dll, it gives me a 404 error when I try to use it.
For local information, there’s a nicely-designed page at http://www.state.ar.us/cities.php. The top of the page is a clickable image map of Arkansas divided into quadrants. Below that is a long list of text links
providing information on the counties in those four quadrants. There are also links to libraries, statewide museums and exhibits, arts links, and a lone arena
California – http://www.state.ca.us
California has a very active database; lots going on here.
Of particular interest to California nowadays is the Rebate and Demand Reduction Program database at http://www.consumerenergycenter.org/rebate/index.php. This page allows you to look up rebates and other incentives for lowering electricity usage. There are three different search options and results are returned very quickly.
The “How Do I?” knowledge base, at
http://www.state.ca.us/state/portal/myca_howdoihelp.jsp, is interesting. You can specify an area that you want to search (topics include business, labor and employment, and government.) After you enter a keyword, you’re asked to choose a subcategory, then are given a list of questions that the knowledgebase can answer for you. (California has an official Folk Dance, but not official Neckwear.) This took a little getting used to but the government category is pretty good.
Colorado – http://www.state.co.us
Ah, the first thing that loads is a link to a text-only version of the home page. And the design is by Community College of Denver students. Good for you,
The Colorado Courts page at http://www.courts.state.co.us/ provides a bevy of
information about Colorado courts. Recent additions and news-type material is on the right side of the page. On the left are links to more permanent items,
like trial courts by district, water courts, and legal research information. In the middle, there’s information on how to obtain court records online, a link to approved forms, and a list of several press releases.
Colorado also has an amazing permits index at http://www.state.co.us/gov_dir/permits.html. (You need a permit to operate a bungie jumping concern in Colorado. Just trying to be helpful.) You can search
a variety of license holders, from acupuncturists to veterinarians, at
Connecticut – http://www.state.ct.us/
Connecticut breaks with tradition by not having a picture of its governor on its front page. It does, however, have a nice clean design and some lovely
It doesn’t disappoint in the information department, either. The Judicial Branch site, at http://www.jud.state.ct.us/, including court calendars, lots of different court forms, and a very well-done law libraries page.
Connecticut also offers license verification in three categories at
http://www.ct-clic.com/verify.htm. The categories are health, insurance, and occupational/professional. The first two categories are updated weekly and the last one updated bi-weekly. For license and permit qualification and filing information, check out the topical listings on the left site of the page at http://www.ct-clic.com/.
Next week we’ll go from Delaware to Indiana. See you in seven days!