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California Legislative Advocacy: Finding and Tracking Legislation

This pathfinder aims to assist researchers in locating materials on the legislative process in California. Researchers will learn how to find and track proposed legislation and how to engage in effective advocacy.

Finding Legislation

Finding current California legislation is generally straightforward, thanks to a number of helpful print and electronic sources. Bills can easily be located by bill number, by subject, by the name of the legislator who introduced the bill, and even by reference to existing sections of the California Constitution, codes and uncodified laws affected by measures introduced. Several examples of how to search for legislation in these various ways are provided as follows.

1. Finding Legislation by Bill Number or Author

The bills from each house are numbered sequentially as they are introduced during the legislative session. The prefix "AB" is assigned to Assembly bill numbers, and the prefix "SB" is assigned to Senate bill numbers. Other common designations for legislation include ACA or SCA for constitutional amendments and AJR or SJR for joint resolutions.

a. Official California Legislation Information Inquiry System (http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/). Searching by bill number or author in the Official California Legislation Information Inquiry System ("Leginfo website") is as simple as entering the desired number or name into the search box that appears on the "Bill Information" page of the site. To narrow a search to a specific house, researchers may use the drop-down lists that appear at the top of the page. 

b. WestlawNext. WestlawNext's California Bill Tracking--Full Text database (CA-BILLTEXT) contains full text of current California legislation. The database is updated daily. Searches for legislation by bill number or author are best performed via use of the database's simple search template.  

c. Lexis Advance. Lexis Advance's Full-Text Bills database (Statutes and Legislation > CA Full-Text Bills) contains full text of current California legislation. The database is updated within one day of publication. Searches for legislation by bill number or author are best performed via use of the database's document segments.

2. Finding Legislation by Subject or by Sections Affected

a. Official California Legislation Information Inquiry System (http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/). Searching for legislation by subject or sections affected on the Leginfo website is equally straightforward, thanks to a basic keyword search box provided on the "Bill Information" page of the site. Although exact phrase searching is possible with use of double quotation marks, the system does not recognize Boolean search logic. To narrow a search to a specific house, researchers may use the drop-down lists that appear at the top of the page. Before clicking "Search" to run a query, be certain to toggle the "Keyword" button that appears above the search box.

b. WestlawNext. WestlawNext's California Bill Tracking--Full Text database (CA-BILLTEXT) contains full text of current California legislation. The database is updated daily. Searches for legislation by subject or sections affected are best performed via use of terms and connectors to construct an effective search statement.  

c. Lexis Advance. Lexis Advance's Full-Text Bills database (Statutes and Legislation > CA Full-Text Bills) contains full text of current California legislation. The database is updated within one day of publication. Searches for legislation by subject or sections affected are best performed via use of terms and connectors to construct an effective search statement. 

d. Legislative Index. The Legislative Index is published electronically and in print by the Legislative Counsel. The Index provides a subject matter index of all legislative measures for the current legislative session, and indicates the subject of each bill, constitutional amendment, and concurrent or joint resolution as introduced and as amended. The Index is available electronically in searchable HTML and PDF formats. The Index is also held in the collection of the UCLA Law Library, together with the Table of Affected sections, at KFC14 .L43i.

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Tracking Legislation

Once you have identified the proposed bills that relate to your issue, you will want to take steps to ensure that you remain informed of all hearings, amendments, and actions taken on those bills as they makes their way through the legislative process. There are a number of services available online that assist researchers with tracking proposed legislation in California. Several are linked below. Guidance on using the services mentioned is presented as follows:

1. Official California Legislation Information Inquiry System (http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov)

To track legislation on the California Leginfo system, it is first necessary to create an account using the online registration form. To do so, first go to http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov. Once on the site, click on the link in the top right corner that reads "login":

On the new page that will open, click on the link that reads "Registration":

Enter the required information and click “Submit.” Once you do so, it will process your registration and then redirect you to the login page for the Leginfo website. You will need to check the email account used in your registration for an email from the website, which will provide a temporary password to validate your account. You can copy (Ctrl+C) and paste (Ctrl+V) that password to login into the Leginfo login page and then click “Login,” which then will prompt you to create a new password. Once you do this, you will be logged into the Leginfo site.

To then proceed to subscribe to updates on proposed legislation, click the third link in the blue menu under the California Legislative Information logo that reads "My Subscriptions":

Then select the house from the first drop-down box and enter the bill number (if known). Once you have done so, click "Submit":

You then will be prompted to select the types of notifications you would like to receive. If you are only interested in when the bill is enrolled with the governor and when it’s approved or vetoed, you can just select that box. If you would like to receive all notifications, you can click the top box that reads “Select all”. Once you’ve made your selections, click the button that reads “Add Notifications” – these steps are highlighted below:

Once you click "Add Notifications," you are done! If you ever wish to delete a subscription, you simply revisit the My Subscriptions link and click the option for "delete."

The status and history of a bill may also be determined on the Leginfo website by clicking on the "Status" and "History" links that appear at the top of every Bill Document. The "Status" of a bill reflects the last historical action date of a bill and any scheduled hearings. The "History" of a bill reflects all legislative activity associated with a bill, including its introduction, dates of amendment, and voting record.

2. WestlawNext California Bill Tracking (Law School Only)

WestlawNext's California Bill Tracking database (CA-BILLTRK) contains summaries and status information of current California legislation. The database is updated daily and legislation is tracked from introduction to the end of the biennial session (or to the date the bill dies, if sooner). Searches may be performed using natural language or terms and connectors, as well as by use of a simple search template. Subscribers to WestlawNext can use the system's WestClip feature to subscribe to alerts for proposed legislation, as illustrated below (the example provided is for an alert using a citation to a known bill). There are five steps in creating a WestClip Alert for proposed legislation:

Basics: Create a name for your alert and provide a description (if desired). Click the blue Continue button to move to the next step;

Select Content: To track legislation proposed in California, from the list of options, select State Materials > California > California Proposed & Enacted Legislation > California Proposed Legislation (Bills);

Enter Search Terms: You can add keywords or bill number information using the initial search box, though it is recommended that you take advantage of the advanced search feature (link is found next to the orange search button in WestlawNext. If you elect to create a WestClip by reference to a specific bill number introduced in a specific year, the search would look as follows, using applicable terms and connectors: advanced: CI("s.b. 128") & YE(2015) (this searches for Senate Bill 128 introduced in 2015). You can preview your results by clicking Enter or the orange Search button near the top of the screen. 

Customize Delivery: When you retrieve the desired bill, click on the box next to the desired bill to select the item and then click on the bell icon and then the link for Create WestClip Alert to create your alert.

You then will be presented with a series of forms to complete for the settings of your alert:

  • Basics: the first step is creating a name for your alert and, if desired, a description. Once you have entered this information, click the blue Continue button to proceed;
  • Select Content: since you have already entered the terms of your search, you need not specify additional information in this field. The California Proposed Legislation (Bills) is already included at this point. As such, click the blue Continue button to proceed;
  • Enter Search Terms: again, since you have already performed your search, you need not specify additional information at this point. As such, click the blue Continue button to proceed;
  • Customize Delivery: at this point, you can set your preferences for the delivery of your alert, such email settings, formatting, and the level of detail you want included in your alert. When you have selected your preferences, click the blue Continue button to proceed;
  • Schedule Alert: Once you have completed the aforementioned steps, the final step is to designate the frequency of which alerts will be sent, the end date for receipt of alerts (if desired), and the time at which alerts should be transmitted. Select the blue Save Alert button to save and schedule your alert, and then you are done!

3. Lexis Advance CA Bill Tracking Reports (Law School Only)

Lexis Advance has a legislative tracking feature that is similar to WestlawNext's. To get to the relevant database, from the top of the home page select Browse. Then, in the Search for a source box, type CA Bill Tracking Reports, hit enter, and select Add source as a search filter to select the database for searching.


The Lexis Advance CA Bill Tracking Reports database contains summaries and status information of current California legislation. The database is updated within two days of publication and legislation is tracked from introduction to the end of the biennial session (or to the date the bill dies, if sooner). Searches may be performed using natural language or terms and connectors. Subscribers to Lexis can use the system's Alert feature to subscribe to alerts for proposed legislation. When viewing a bill that you woudl like to track, click on the alarm clock icon to begin the process of creating an alert. Then proceed to specifiy your delivery options.

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