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!
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… 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.
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 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.
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 vetrinarians, at
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/.
Delaware. Small state, big ol’ Web site. They’ve got a Yahooesque business portal (administered by Yahoo?) at http://www.delaware.gov/yahoo/Business. (Back up to http://www.delaware.gov/yahoo/ to get all the listings.) Seeing services laid out in a familiar category/subcategory makes them a lot easier to navigate. Legal researchers will appreciate the bill tracking available from http://www.legis.state.de.us/.
There’s also a large collection of photographs and maps of Delaware at http://www.udel.edu/dgs/carto.html . This site contains such goodies as a database of aerial photography and maps, and a collection of digital data
(Digital Line Graphs, Digital Elevation Models, etc.) for the entire state.
And if you’re interested in what’s going on RIGHT NOW, the Delaware State Police home page (http://www.state.de.us/dsp ) has an online 911 scanner you can listen to.
Florida – http://www.state.fl.us/
Maybe it’s the time of year, but Florida has a prominent link for hurricane and storm information (that page, at http://www.dca.state.fl.us/bpr/EMTOOLS/Hurricanes/hurrwtch.htm, has information on hurricane preparedness, weather reports, and a tropical weather outlook from the National Hurricane Center that’s updated four times a day.) The rest of the page has categories and quick topics on the left, links on the right, and news and updates in the middle. The governor isn’t even mentioned until the bottom of the page!
The state’s legislative site, at http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Welcome/index.cfm, features a search engine for 2002 Senate Bill Text, 2002 Senate Daily Journals (in PDF format), and the 2000 Florida Statutes at http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm.
Over at http://www.sunbiz.org/, there are several business search databases, including for corporations, trademarks, and partnerships. Lots of business information here.
Georgia – http://www.state.ga.us/
Georgia’s home page gets my “argh” award for being completely unnavigable without loading images. (I usually surf with images turned off, as it lets me go faster.)
Still, there’s some good stuff here. There’s a corporate record search at
http://www.ganet.org/services/corp/corpsearch.shtml. (Individual record search is free online; multiple records can be purchased by credit card.)
There’s also a search engine for the Georgia Code at http://www.ganet.org/services/ocode/ocgsearch.htm, which is searchable by either keyword or code number. If you’re got business with the state, Georgia provides a list of e-commerce and other online applications at http://www.ganet.org/services/ocode/ocgsearch.htm.
One thing I don’t get. The front page of the Georgia state site, with graphics turned off, was a mess. All the other pages I looked at, however, were extremely text-friendly. What the heck?
Hawaii – http://www.state.hi.us/
Hawaii doesn’t worry too much about micro-categorizing their materials; instead they have an online services page that’s very useful.
There’s a complaints database at http://www.ehawaiigov.org/serv/rico, that’s searchable by name. I found complaint listings going back to 1985. If you need to discover the name of a business in Hawaii, you can use the business name search at http://www.ehawaiigov.org/DCCA/biz-name/. (The search form is the same as the complaint search form.)
The All About Hawaii page (http://www.ehawaiigov.org/abouthi/html/index.html) is an interesting read. Information available here includes health and vital statistics, language, and quick facts and figures. There’s also a link to the Hawaii state archives at http://www.state.hi.us/dags/archives/.
Idaho – http://www.state.id.us/
What I know about Idaho you could carve on a neutron with a number-ten nail, but this site makes it easy to get up to speed. Recent additions and news about the site is in the middle of the page.
If you want a virtual tour of Idaho, check out the Idaho State Historical Society’s page at http://www2.state.id.us/ishs/index.html. You’ll find a tour of the Oregon Trail in Idaho and a lot of indexes to genealogically useful information (cemetery indexes, publication indexes, vital records information, etc.)
For the legislation lover in you, there’s http://www.state.id.us/legislation/. This site includes a search for either the Idaho Statutes or the Idaho Constitution or both. There’s also a nicely-done index to Idaho legal periodicals at http://www2.state.id.us/lawlib/periodcl.htm, part of Idaho’s law library.
Illinois – http://www.state.il.us/
Lot of content here, but I like the layout. And the headlines are dated; nicely done.
Illinois has a ton of census information available at http://www.state.il.us/2000census/. There are state maps demographic data, census profiles (in PDF format) and even a PowerPoint presentation. This dovetails nicely with the Illinois facts page at http://www.state.il.us/state/facts/ (hey, North Carolina and Illinois have the same state bird!)
The Illinois Federal Clearinghouse at http://www.state.il.us/state/fedclear/ is an
interesting site, providing information on Federal grant opportunities, foundation listings, state and federal contact lists (in PDF format) and a bevy of reports and publications, including Key Economic Indicators for Illinois.
Indiana – http://www.state.in.us/
Ah, Indiana. Home of the ever-excellent Eiteljorg Museum. Though that isn’t mentioned on the site’s front page, plenty of other stuff is.
Bill information for the General Assembly is available at http://www.state.in.us/serv/lsa_billinfo. You may search by bill number or by keyword. There’s also a subject listing, a list of resolutions, and other legislation information on this page. If you’re interested in the Indiana code, you can search it at http://www.in.gov/legislative/ic/search.html.
The featured sites part of the Indiana state site (http://www.state.in.us/ai/featured) is very interesting, offering goodies like a search for local mental health providers, the DNR Fishing Report, and a catalog of state forms.
Iowa – http://www.state.ia.us/
Wow, what a gorgeous header graphic! Iowa gets my award for the most “Web-aware” site I’ve visited so far; they offer visitors a chance to see site usage stats, have a browser check available, and offer many useful off-site links from the front page.
Not that the site itself doesn’t have a lot to offer. At
http://www.state.ia.us/main/addressbooks/ADstate/index. html there’s an A-Z index of contacts for state agencies and information. It’s all on one page, but a
combination of bookmarks and drop-down menus makes it nicely navigable.
Iowa’s legislative page is at http://www.legis.state.ia.us/. There’s a search engine on this page, but it’s not clear what it searches. In fact, the search engine help page has its own index.. a bit disappointing that it’s so complicated, considering how good the front page is. Nevertheless, the legislative page links to several legal documents, including the Code of Iowa and the Constitution of Iowa, and even offers floor debate audio when the legislature is in session.
Kansas – http://www.accesskansas.org
Ooo! A welcome mat, right there on the front page. How nice.
Kansas doesn’t try to put a bunch of resources on its front page; instead it provides a variety of categories on the left side of the page. You’ll find links to Kansas’ employment laws and regulations on the page “Operating a Business in Kansas” (http://www.accesskansas.org/operating/index.html). This page includes a list of professions with related resources (from Accounting to Trucking & Transportation) and the aforementioned link to laws and regulations (including required posters and ADA guidelines)
The Kansas Government page is at http://www.accesskansas.org/government/index.html. This site provides links to several different legislative utilities and resources, some of which are
not available unless you subscribe to the Information Network of Kansas. Items available to non-subscribers include single bill tracking, bill subject index, and
Kentucky – http://www.kydirect.net
ROAD TRIP! The Kentucky State Fair is next week! Not interested? Oh well. Check out the Publications, Research, and Maps page at
http://home.state.ky.us/TransferShortCut.asp?LKSYSID=35 . This is an annotated list of research-type services available from Kentucky, including an “Ask a librarian” reference service and the excellent Kentucky Stats.
Kentucky also has an interesting system for accepting link requests. They have an application available online at http://home.state.ky.us/RequestLink.asp?LKSYSID=0 . That’s a good idea; I wonder why more states don’t do that. That page also leads to Search Kentucky at http://web.state.ky.us/KyHome/SearchKY.asp?LKSYSID=0 ,
which allows you to search for state government Web sites by name of site, agency name, organization chart, or via a dropdown subject menu.
Louisiana – http://www.state.la.us/
Louisiana almost fits their entire front page onto one screen. Almost — it’s a little long. But there’s not too much here to work with — you’ll have to explore some to find the good stuff.
What good stuff? Well, there’s the Louisiana State Legislature at http://www.legis.state.la.us/, which offers an excellent bill search on its front page. It also offers legislative press releases and a list of news outlets around the state — an interesting touch.
There’s also the Louisiana Services Directory at http://wwwsrch2.doa.state.la.us/sdsprod/user/usermain.asp. This page allows you to list services and licenses by department, alphabetically, or to search. You may search by keyword, category, or subcategory. The results are nicely put together, with extensive annotation for each site.
Maine – http://www.state.me.us/
Maine gets my “no-nonsense Web site” award. You load the site and immediately your eye is drawn to the large words on the left side of the site: GOVERNMENT! BUSINESS! LIVING! VISITING! (The all-caps and the exclamation points are mine.)
This site also has three drop-down menus on the front page — Most Visited, What’s New, and Summer in Maine – – that make it easy to navigate. There’s a monster search engine at http://www.informe.org/icrs/ICRS that searches “the documents on file with the State of Maine for all business and non-profit corporations, trademarks, limited partnerships, limited liability partnerships and limited liability companies.” You can search by keyword, charter number, and category. Searching for “Maine Coast Sea Vegetables” brought up basic corporation information about that company, with the option to purchase additional information like stock data and certificate of good standing.
There’s also a nifty bill status search at http://janus.state.me.us/legis/status/search.asp. This site allows you to search by a number of things, including committee name, sponsor name, and co-sponsor name. Nicely done.
Maryland – http://www.state.md.us
Maryland wants you to be able to Get Things Done, thus the link of the same name at http://www.state.md.us/mecthing.html. This page leads to a range of helpful resources, including a database of charitable organizations in Maryland, at http://www.sos.state.md.us/sos/charity/html/search.html, a set of occupational and professional licensing information at http://www.dllr.state.md.us/license/electron.html, and a variety of medical profession information at http://www.state.md.us/things/medical.html.
Maryland also has an listing of cities, towns, and communities in Maryland; reach it at http://www.state.md.us/meccity.html. It is browsable by alphabet. It’s astonishing how many communities have online presences!
Massachusetts – http://www.state.ma.us/
Massachusetts, unlike some of the sites I’ve looked at, puts a LOT of links on its front page. But they’re organized in such a manner that they’re more helpful
I liked the page o’ databases at http://www.state.ma.us/sch.htm. Its offerings include an attorney lookup, lobbyist and employer search system, and a professional license search. Also appreciated was the catalog of directories at
http://www.state.ma.us/dir.htm. There was all kinds of stuff here, from 24 hour pharmacies to a list of vehicle inspection stations.
Massachusetts isn’t going to win any design awards for its site, but it manages to make an awful lot of information easily navigable and available within one or two clicks. They’re also very active in updating the site; site news from August 3 is available on the front page. Well done.
Michigan – http://www.michigan.gov/
Excellent online services link list up front, though I’d like to see some dates on some of this spotlight and headlines materials on the front page. When you can’t tell the dates on things, it makes your front page look a little bland.
No matter. Visit the Michigan legislature at http://www.michiganlegislature.org/. The top of the page is a search engine for the current legislative session documents. Beneath that is a series of links to
several different varieties of legislation search engines, browsable legislative material, help, and legislative links. This page is very simple, very nicely designed.
Hey, visit The Michigan Electronic Library, while you’re at it — it’s at http://mel.lib.mi.us/. It’s a searchable subject index of — well, lots of categories. Of especial interest to the Michigan researcher would be Michigan (including community information, history, and local government), Law (all
Michigan), and statistics (ENORMOUS page. Nicely done!)
Minnesota – http://www.state.mn.us/
Minnesota, home of the Mall of America and Mystery Science Theater 3000. You gotta love a Web site which has a “Click to hear the loon” link on its front page.
The Minnesota Connection, at http://www.state.mn.us/minnesota/index.html, is a good collection of information on the state, including pointers to economic facts and figures, history, and community information.
Minnesota’s “Tools of Democracy” page, at http://www.state.mn.us/democracy/index.html, is not as nicely laid out to me as Michigan’s legislation page (it’s in three columns) but there are several pointers here, including the state constitution and links for all branches of the government. The Minnesota Legal Resources page at http://www.lawlibrary.state.mn.us/mnlr.html, provides
an outline of links to legal information including judiciary, administrative law, county and municipal Ordinances, and secondary resources. Good annotations, plenty of resources, well done.
Mississippi – http://www.state.ms.us/
Ah, magnolias. I think this is the shortest — as in height — state site I’ve visited yet. nothing wrong with that; the categories for the state’s site are on the left side of the page.
I can’t give URLs in this writeup because they’re about 300 characters long (I exaggerate slightly.) Click on the business category. You’ll be presented with a closed- outline list of business categories, including legal and professional licensing. Click on one of the blue triangles and the page will reload with links to additional sites.
Check out the Mississippi counties site at http://www.mscounties.com/, too. (That URL I can reproduce.) This site provides a drop-down list of counties. Click on a county and you’ll get a map of the county, a notation of where it is relative to the state of Mississippi, and a list of Web sites relevant to that county (genealogy, broadcast media, community events, etc.) Click across the tabs at the top of the page and you’ll also get information on county officers, information and history, etc.
Missouri – http://www.state.mo.us/
Missouri apparently went to the “drop-down menu” school of making lots of resources accessible. That’s cool. I also like the fact that one of those drop-down menus is for state employee information. WAY cool.
But we’re not state employees (at least, I’m not) so now what? Missouri’s professional license search, at
http://riversrun.ded.state.mo.us/cgi-bin/professionalregistration.pl, allows you to search by county name, profession name (from acute care nurse to wrestling sponsor– no kidding) or name or DBA of the licensee.
The state e-mail directory, at
http://riversrun.ded.state.mo.us/cgi-bin/professionalregistration.pl, lets you browse state e-mail addresses by last name or department, or search by keyword. The state phone directory,
at http://www.oa.state.mo.us/cgi-bin/teledir/directory/teledir.htm, lets you do the same thing if you’d rather use a phone than e-mail.
Montana – http://www.state.mt.us
Montana apparently does some kind of browser detecting when you first visit its site, because I got a text- only page. Not that I mind, of course — in fact in
many cases I prefer text-only pages.
But no matter. Check out Montana’s business services page at http://sos.state.mt.us/css/BSB/Contents.asp. You’ll find a business entity search, applicable forms, answers to questions about doing business in Montana, and more.
Over in the City and County Governments page (http://www.discoveringmontana.com/css/govt/city_county.asp) you’ll find the Montana Association of Counties, providing information on each of Montana’s 56 counties and other resources, and the Montana League of Cities and Towns, providing profiles of Montana counties and municipalities as well as a list of Montana cities and towns on the Web.
Nebraska – http://www.state.ne.us
Nebraska has a pretty image-heavy site, too, but they use ALT tags so much that you can still surf from their front page with your graphics turned off. Well done, Nebraska.
Shimmy on over to the business page at http://www.state.ne.us/business.html. Here you’ll find business agencies and associations, information for contractors who want to do business in Montana, lots of different professional licensing contacts, and business forms.
If you want Facts about Nebraska, you want http://www.state.ne.us/facts.html. Unfortunately the Nebraska Blue Book — which is nicely arranged and covers a variety of information — is available only in PDF format. So you can use the index but not do searching per se. What a bummer! But there’s also a list of over 200 Nebraska community sites and a Nebraska Databook (lots of spreadsheets! Whee!)
Nevada – http://www.state.nv.us
I had unrealistic expectations about the state of Nevada’s page. I was thinking that it’d have lots of lights and a marquee ala Las Vegas. It didn’t. It was just a splash page. It doesn’t have ALT tags, though. Try viewing it without images turned on. Ai!
On to the resources. Check out the Nevada Law Library at http://www.leg.state.nv.us/law1.cfm. You’ll find Nevada revised statutes, Supreme Court opinions, the Nevada Register, etc. Most of these are both browsable and searchable. Nicely laid-out and easy to navigate.
The heart of the Nevada Business and Industries page, at http://dbi.state.nv.us/, is a table with two columns in it and many rows. The two columns are Licensing & Regulatory Authority and Business & Consumer Services. The first column contains pointers to resources like the labor commissioner and the industrial relations division, while the second column
contains, among other things, a pointer to business finance and planning and a Nevada unclaimed property site.
New Hampshire – http://www.state.nh.us/
This is a fast-loading site. Looks like most of the links on the front page are text, with only a few graphics.
Cities and towns in NH, at http://www.state.nh.us/living/towns.html, provides a
lot more information than you’d think. There are several different sections to the site. There’s a page of links to information about NH’s municipalities, from Acworth, population 779, to Woodstock, population 1,269. information includes population, districts, town office mailing address, and Web resources if there are any available. There’s a list of online business and organizations in NH. There’s a page with information on both the K-12 and higher education facilities in New Hampshire. I haven’t even mentioned the newspaper page. This is a page to explore.
There’s also the New Hampshire General Court page at http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/. This page in and of itself isn’t much to look at, but go down a couple layers and you’ll find some good stuff. The advanced
bill search, at http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/ns/billstatus/default.asp, offers several different ways to search for legislation. There’s a roll-call search so you can see how different reps voted, and a browsable state budget.
Lots of stuff here; most of it beneath the surface.
New Jersey – http://www.state.nj.us/
No New Jersey jokes, please; I have relatives there. This site doesn’t deserve any jokes, anyway; what a lot of material!
The government information page, at http://www.state.nj.us/government_info.html, is a keeper. The page is divided into three columns: state, local, and federal government resources. The state column provides several direct links, but also three directories that lead to several directories (mayors, zip codes, fax directory, etc.), state agencies, and state contracts.
The local government information page provides links to county and municipal web sites, local place names, local planning officials, etc. Finally, the federal
government column leads to resources you might expect, like the White House and the Library of Congress.
New Jersey’s licensee directories, at http://www.state.nj.us/lps/ca/director.htm, are not aggregated. Instead there are several linked categories, from accountant to veterinarians. The search forms seem to be similar, though. For example, the hearing aide dispensers and the master plumbers had the same search interface — a last name query box and a pulldown menu to specify the number of results to return.
New Mexico – http://www.state.nm.us/Welcome.html
If you have good bandwidth, not only can you see a picture of the governor, you can see a 4.1MB AVI of him greeting you.
The economic development site, at http://www.edd.state.nm.us/, links to aggregated license information acupuncturists to vegetarians. This is a list of occupations which are licensed, but the license information isn’t automatically available. For example, medical examiner licensing information isn’t available online. If you want to get a list of required permits, check out
New Mexico’s cultural resources have their own site at http://www.nmoca.com. In addition to information about some of New Mexico’s monuments, there’s audio about different events in New Mexico’s history, information on library services and events, and links to New Mexico’s Blue Book and the New Mexico cultural database.
New York – http://www.state.ny.us
How do you segue into New York? How can I possibly make a joke about New York that a million writers or comics haven’t already made? I can’t. I give. I will
note they have a huge Web site.
Make your first stop http://www.nysegov.com/e-bizNYS.cfm. This site lists transactions and forms by category and agency. (Transactions = things like birth certificate requests and parking ticket payments, while forms = things like New York Lotto Subscription, temporarily down, and a registration for interested organ and tissue donors. Also in this section don’t miss the business guide, with a bevy of business and licensing information, and a short list of links related to doing business in New York.
Map-NY (http://www.nysegov.com/map-NY.cfm) is an interesting idea. It’s a site of New York government services broken out by area. Now, don’t click on the nice map of New York — it didn’t work for me anyway. Instead, look at your options on the left. You can view information by agency or category. The interactive mapping section lets you see New York in several different ways, including via aerial photography and with an affordable housing directory. Finally, the NYS GIS clearinghouse provides tons of processed aerial
North Carolina – http://www.state.nc.us
When I first loaded this page, the first thing that caught my eye was the graphic on the left announcing that the weather was “Powered by Yahoo.” Gggh.
Tear away your eyes from that bit and you’ll see a series of tabs about one quarter way down the page. The Business tab takes you to
http://www.ncgov.com/asp/basic/business.asp. There you’ll find a Yahooesque searchable subject index concerning doing business in North Carolina, including a link to an unclaimed property database, links to government databases, and weather.
The NC Research section, at
http://www.ncgov.com/asp/subpages/intention.asp?P=1&I=35, provides you a variety of pointers, including links to county information, access to NC court records, and information on NC economic trends. Annotation is nonexistent, but would improve the quality of this listing by a thousand percent.
If you’re looking for businesses in North Carolina, you want http://www.secretary.state.nc.us/corporations/. This page allows you to look up about 400,000 corporations and limited liability companies. An interesting twist is that you can look for corporations added between dates. For example, I could search for corporations added in March 2001. Corporation information includes the name, date formed, id #, type, and registered agent’s name and address.
North Dakota – http://www.state.nd.us/
Clean, fast-loading page with a groovy logo in the upper-left corner.
Check out the Government link at http://discovernd.com/law/, and from there State Laws at http://discovernd.com/government/statelaws.html. From here you can get to State Supreme Court Opinions (from 1987 on), the state constitution (as PDF file) and court rules.
North Dakota has a couple of items that I think you’ll find interesting. There’s an alphabetical list of business and professional positions that require
licenses at http://discovernd.com/business/busprolicense.html. This list probably isn’t complete, but there’s a lot here. Each link leads to a page of information about the profession in North Dakota, including application forms and rules.
The local government page, at http://discovernd.com/government/localgov.html, contains a city and county index, populations of cities and counties, county map and profiles, and more. And if you want to more information on North Dakota, there’s a facts page which points to information on everything from symbols to economic information.
Ohio – http://www.state.oh.us/
The first thing that went through my mind when I saw this site was “Why does Ohio, of all states, have a DOLPHIN project?” I still don’t quite understand it
but I don’t think it has anything to do with Flipper.
Anyway. The licensing and permits page, at http://www.state.oh.us/Business/LicensingandPermits.htm, links to professional boards as well as individual license and permit information. Some organizations have license verification engines (Dental Board) and some don’t (Embalmers and Funeral Directors Board).
Ohio’s Legislative Branch page, at
provides more than legal information. There are links to legal resources, of course (including subject- specific information like school funding reform) but
there’s also frequently-asked questions about Ohio, a pointer to state facts (I never would have guessed what the Official Rock Song of Ohio was), and information on elected officials.
Oklahoma – http://www.state.ok.us/
I think this is the first state Web site I’ve seen that mentions the use of Dreamweaver for maintenance. Nothing about that one way or the other; I just think it’s interesting.
One thing that bothers me about some search engines is that one engine is used for everything. State web sites can encompass tens of thousands of pages (if not more) and yet you’re expected to use one search engine that
encompasses the whole site. Pfeh. Oklahoma solves this problem with SoonerSearch at http://www.soonersearch.odl.state.ok.us:8080/, which
provides you with a query box and a list of state agencies with checkboxes. Click on the checkboxes of the sites you want searched, or leave them all
unchecked to search every site. Each agency includes the date it was last indexed and what I would guess to be the number of pages (the help page says “number of webpage links” but I’m not clear on what that means.)
For more search engine goodness, check out the Oklahoma State Courts Network at http://www.oscn.net/applications/oscn/start.asp, which indexes
over 200,000 documents. There’s a really basic search on the front page, but you probably want the advanced search at http://www.oscn.net/applications/oscn/index.asp, which allows you to specify where you want to search (state legal materials with several subcategories, federal legal materials with ditto, etc.) The expand vs. search option is slightly confusing at first, but the search interfaces are excellent and the data divvied out neatly. Way to go, Oklahoma!
Oregon – http://www.state.or.us/
Wow, two sites in a row with great site search engines! Check out Oregon’s Compass at http://www.state.or.us:1080/compass/. Instead of a category-oriented search engine, it’s more like a searchable subject index. There’s a category tree through which you may browse, or you can search
individual categories or the whole index. Sometimes they page information available in the directory isn’t very good; more keywords and in some cases better titles would come in real handy.
Business in Oregon, at http://www.businessinoregon.org/, also offers a subject index at http://www.businessinoregon.org/sitemap.cfm, but you can get plenty of information without having to resort to the site map. The site includes a link to a business registry database, a page of market information including demographics (some of this is in PDF format), business law and legal information, and some general financial information. If you can’t find what you’re looking for here there is a search engine, or you can check out the site FAQs.
Pennsylvania – http://www.state.pa.us
Pennsylvania PowerPort, and boy, they’re not kidding! I’d be here all day describing all the materials on this site. But I’ve got four more states after this
one, so I’ll try to keep it quick.
The Pennsylvania Code has its own Web site at http://www.pacode.com/, and can be browsed or searched by keyword and, optionally, section. The Pennsylvania Bulletin also has its own domain, at http://www.pabulletin.com/index.asp, and contains “Statewide and local court rules; the Governor’s Proclamations and Executive Orders; Actions by the
General Assembly; Rulemakings by State agencies; Proposed Rulemakings by State agencies; and State agency notices.” You can search by keyword or many different document information parameters.
Pennsylvania School Profiles (http://www.paprofiles.org/; Pennsylvania really likes having separate domains!) offers school information searchable by county, map, or keyword. Each school report (reports are available in PDF format) offers a variety of information, including address, enrollment, technology and library resources, enrollment stability, class size, staffing, and programs available. There’s also a state profile available.
Rhode Island – http://www.state.ri.us/
How many other state Web sites have a Mr. Potatohead icon on their front pages?
Tear yourself away from that and check out the public information kiosk at
http://www.state.ri.us/submenus/leglink.htm. It’ll give you legislative information by session (I wonder how this page is going to look five sessions from now)
as well as a couple other goodies — a legislator’s address book (including e-mail and physical address, plain HTML, suitable for printing), or a downloadable version of the General Assembly database (available as a comma-delimited text file or in DBF format.)
If you’re interested in getting more contact information, check out http://www.state.ri.us/submenus/sofflink.htm. Here you can get contact information for several types of state officials as well as city and town information.)
On the other hand, if you’re looking for more legal stuff, check out the General Assembly page at http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/gen_assembly/genmenu.html. Here you can get Bill Text (going back to 1997), journals (back to 1998), and public laws (going back to 1994). You can also see the Rhode Island constitution, committee agendas and calendars, and some general
legislation information (including how to run for office in Rhode Island).
South Carolina – http://www.myscgov.com/
Please explain to me why I’m so fascinated with the South Carolina traffic cams. Maybe it’s just me. Anyway, onward.
You can search for South Carolina business filings by keyword at http://www.scsos.com/corp_search.htm . Information returned includes contact information, status, registering agent, filing date, and expiration date (if there is one.) There’s also a charities search, searchable by keyword, at http://www.scsos.com/char_online.htm. Information available includes address, status, and revenue.
Want local information? Check out the maps of all South Carolina counties at http://www.sciway.net/maps/cnty/. (If you’d rather get county information, check out http://www.state.sc.us/counties/.) There’s a list of cities and towns in SC with links when available at http://www.state.sc.us/scsl/cities.html.
Then there’s http://www.judicial.state.sc.us/ . There’s both a general search here or a search that allows you to find state Supreme Court and Appeals court opinions by judge, court type, date, and/or author.
South Dakota – http://www.state.sd.us/
South Dakota has a state news site at http://www.state.sd.us/News/index.cfm that’s really nice. Down the middle is the latest news — looks like about a week’s worth — while on the upper-right there are news tips for the upcoming nice. Well done South Dakota.
Maybe you want to Get It Done in South Dakota. Okay, check out http://www.state.sd.us/state/sitelist.cfm, the Get It Done page / site index. The top of the page has a drop down menu and query box allowing you to search by agency and keyword.
Below that is a site list divided into services, with categories ranging from administrative hearings to wildlife. Individual links are as specific as how to become a state trooper, reporting a fish with a tag, and an application for starting an insurance company in South Dakota.
If you just want government stuff, http://www.state.sd.us/state/govern.cfm is probably a better bet. Here you’ll find a linked list of agencies, links to elected offices, and a variety of information about South Dakota (state facts and symbols, state phone book, online forms, etc.)
Tennessee – http://www.state.tn.us/
Tennessee, our gorgeous neighbor (ever driven through the Blue Ridge mountains in the fall?) to the west. And not a bad Web site either.
The guide to Tennessee communities, at http://www.tennesseeanytime.org/main/citizen/community/index.html, divides Tennessee into east, middle, and west sections, and provides information for the communities of each. In addition, there’s a school and public library directory as well as a page of demographic information on the state as a whole.
(And if you’re interested in more Tennessee statistics, don’t miss
http://www.tennesseeanytime.org/main/facts/records/index.html, which provides sources for several more statistics, even down to often-updated statistics on traffic accidents.
Tennessee’s laws and rules are in another section at
http://www.tennesseeanytime.org/main/government/laws.html. This page has the full text of the Tennessee constitution (downloadable as a PDF file), state rules and regulations (browsable by chapters) and a link to the general assembly.
Texas – http://www.state.tx.us
Texas is one of those rare states that has *fans.* Don’t get me wrong, I love North Carolina, but I don’t walk around in a t-shirt saying “Don’t Mess with North Carolina.” It might not fit and besides it doesn’t scan.
Texas is cognizant of this, and it shows in their Texas Information section at
http://www.state.tx.us/Texasinfo/ . Now, granted, you can get some very serious stuff here, including a link to the Texas Almanac (lots of demographic information), a meta-index of Texas information links, and information on Texas’ park areas. But you can also get links to screensavers and Texas buttons/icons (“Bar with Texas Wildflowers Punctuated by Cowboy Hat,”
Texas’ Criminal Justice and Law section is available at http://www.state.tx.us/Law/. The links to law resources, like the state law library, the Texas Statutes, administrative code, etc. are at the bottom of the page. The rest of the page is taken up with various materials, including a link to crime statistics, a missing persons clearinghouse, and even a link to a consumer complaint form.
If you’re involved in state government, you may want to check out Texas’ e-government initiatives at http://www.dir.state.tx.us/egov/. That site provides
both an overview of what they’re doing as well as some resources on e-government.
Utah – http://www.utah.gov/
The good folks in Utah must have better eyes than me. What teeny text! Luckily I’m using Opera and can bump the page up to 120% of original size. Ah, that’s better.
The front page of this site features a zipcode-based lookup of services in Utah. Entering 84102, which is Salt Lake City, provides you a list of online Salt Lake
County services, including jobs, animal services, and the option to pay parking tickets online.
Beneath that, there’s a pull-down menu to select another Utah city or town (from Bluffdale to Woods Cross) and underneath that is a list of popular services. I would annotate the list of county-specific services, but all- in-all this is a nice little feature.
Utah has a thorough licensing lookup feature at https://secure.e-utah.org/llv. You may search by personal name, business name, license number, or license type (types range from accountancy to veterinarian.) Search results include name, city, profession, license type, number, status, and a detail
button. Clicking a detail button provides you with some additional information, including zip code, issue and expiration date (if applicable), and reason for status change.
If you want more general business information on Utah, check out their business page at http://www.utah.gov/business.html, which provides business FAQs as well as law and regulation information.
Vermont – http://www.state.vt.us/
I don’t know if there is some kind of browser autodetect going on here, but Vermont’s home page is a text affair, largely free of graphics, and I love it.
Thank you Vermont.
The Vermont Legislature page, at http://www.leg.state.vt.us/, is a bit fancier. From here you can search for bills (and get legislation reports sliced several different ways), get committee meeting information, get text of bills and other legislative documents, and even find out how to be a 2002 Legislative Page (that’s human page, not Web page.)
The Judiciary has its own domain name; it’s available at http://www.vermontjudiciary.org/homepage.htm. From here you can get information on representing yourself in a Vermont Court, get court forms, check court calendars, and get information on attorneys (there’s a link for an attorney database but it doesn’t appear to be online yet.)
The materials for the legal “layman” and the legal professional are pretty well mixed together here, but the layout is simple enough that you can probably find what you want.
Virginia – http://www.state.va.us
Just slightly south of Vermont — oh, okay, REALLY south of Vermont — there’s Virginia. Its home page is a lot different from Vermont’s, too; lots of graphics
Check out the Virginia Information Providers Network at http://www.vipnet.org/portal/aboutvipnet/aboutvipnet.htm. Here you’ll find annotated links to Virginia- relevant sites and services in such categories as
government, and family & education.
If you want to learn all about Virginia, consult http://www.vipnet.org/portal/virginia/index.htm. You’ll get pointers to state facts and symbols (a state DOG? Really?) history, flora, fauna, and governors (who
would count as fauna, I suppose.)
If you’re more interested in legislative resources, check out the Code of Virginia page at http://www.vipnet.org/portal/government/code.htm. Here you’ll find links to the Code of Virginia, a subject index of bills, resolutions, and documents, and several ways to get state employee information. And if you can’t find what you’re looking for here, there’s always the state Web site list at
Washington – http://access.wa.gov/
My, what a colorful page! And instead of a picture of the governor there’s a cartoon of George Washington. All right.
You don’t have to leave the front page to find great material here. Just look in the middle of the page under the “Spotlight on Service” header. There you’ll
find, among other things, a link to a contractor database (searchable in several different ways), commuting and travel information, and a link to Washington’s unclaimed property database.
That’s not to say that there isn’t worthwhile material elsewhere on the site. For example, There’s the alphabetical directory of state agencies at
http://access.wa.gov/government/awstate.asp. Those agencies without Web sites have contact phone numbers (excellent!) And if you want more constant contact with Washington government issues and concerns, check out the incredible set of mailing lists available at http://listserv.wa.gov/archives/uselist.html. What a great idea! Well done Washington.
For more finding fun check out Find-It at http://find-it.wa.gov/compass. You can search by Washington-relevant information by keyword or specify different categories and subcategories (or search within categories and subcategories.)
West Virginia – http://www.state.wv.us/
West Virginia has chosen “put as much as possible on the front page” option for their Web site designed. It’s organized into categories so it’s simple to
You can get a good taste for the wide variety of materials available on this page by viewing their archives for the site of the month at
http://www.state.wv.us/prevmonth.htm. Here you’ll see information on governmental sites to university sites to sites about West Virginia public broadcasting. They’re nicely annotated, too.
The West Virginia Economic Development site is at http://www.wvdo.org/. This site has its own database page at http://www.wvdo.org/bot.cfm. Here you can find databases for industrial parks, businesses, and county demographic data. Plenty to see here.
The West Virginia Legislature is at http://www.legis.state.wv.us/. A frame on the left provides extensive navigation on everything from the Senate to search engines and e-mail.
Wisconsin – http://www.wisconsin.gov/
Another colorful, well-organized site. Unfortunately I can’t provide URLs for this state because they’re all about 200 characters long, so just sing along with me.
Choose Licensing and Permitting from the front page. There are several information options here, including the ability to search for licensed professionals. A business professional search allows you to search categories from aesthetician to registered interior designers. Information includes when the license was granted, the current status, and whether the licensee has ever been reprimanded. This is one of the most thorough licensing databases I’ve seen in surveying the states.
Back to the home page. Choose the Directories link. You’ll get an excellent list of directories available on the site, including a local court directory, public and private school directories, and several directories from the University of Wisconsin system.
Wyoming – http://www.state.wy.us/
Whew. Wyoming. Almost finished. ‘Scuse me for a minute. I need to catch my breath. Phew. Okay.
Now. Wyoming! Check out their wood-paneled buttons and the business page at http://www.state.wy.us/business.html. Information you’ll find here includes an economic forecast report, corporate information (including access to a corporate database), and a virtual tour of Wyoming (completely with some really nicely-done maps.)
The government page, at http://www.state.wy.us/government.html, offers pull-down menus for various levels of government as well as detailed and general lists of government services. The secretary of state’s site has an excellent government directory (http://soswy.state.wy.us/director/dir-toc.htm)
which includes contact information for all branches of government as well as county officials and tribal councils. Nice Web site directory, too!