50-state surveys

50-state surveys

  • How to compile a 50-state (or multi-state) survey
  1. Call the library!

We have a lot of experience finding and compiling these surveys and can save you time. Please don’t hesitate to ask us for help. If you are curious how we do it or want to explore on your own, though, what follows are a few of the many sources we use for multi-state surveys.

  1. OLR Reports

The Legislative Library’s unofficial motto is “all research starts with OLR Reports,” and multi-state surveys are no exception. Reports from 1994 to the present are accessible electronically through the advanced legislative document search. In the fourth column at the bottom of that page, check “OLR Reports.” Then, in the Document Text search field, enter your search terms. You can use the drop-down menu immediately to the right of your Document Text search field to select one or more years to search. If you are doing historical research, the library has OLR Reports prior to 1994 in hard copy, indexed by subject.

  1. The National Conference of State Legislatures

NCSL’s website has a multitude of pages devoted to tracking state laws in various areas. Its Legisbrief series and State Legislatures magazine often produce 50-state surveys with color-coded maps. For legislators and staff, NCSL’s subject experts can also compile new surveys upon request; the library can contact these experts for you.

  1. Nyberg’s Subject Compilations of State Laws

Librarian Cheryl Nyberg of the University of Washington has been compiling this annual bibliography of 50-state surveys for decades. It is published by HeinOnline, a database accessible with a Connecticut State Library card. Subject Compilations of State Laws indexes surveys by more than 1200 subjects, and you can also search the full text of the bibliography.

  1. National Survey of State Laws

This publication produces 50-state surveys on a variety of subjects. Like the Subject Compilations of State Laws, it is accessible with a Connecticut State Library card through HeinOnline.

  1. The Book of the States

The Council of State Governments publishes this book electronically each year. It is particularly useful for answering questions about how state governments work – for example, questions about constitutions, legislative process, elections, and state finance.

  1. Journal articles

Articles in law journals and other academic journals can include valuable information comparing state laws, or even full 50-state surveys in their tables or appendices. Nyberg’s bibliography covers many of these articles, but a search of articles through a database such as HeinOnline, Westlaw, or Academic Search Premier can turn up a new source.

  1. Westlaw

Westlaw has compiled a variety of 50-state surveys of statutes and regulations. It is also possible to create a survey from scratch using Westlaw’s statute and regulation texts.

  1. Final step: quality check

Look for the date the survey was compiled. If it is recent enough to be useful to you, then test the information’s quality. One way to do this is to closely examine what it says about Connecticut. Consider whether the information given matches up with what you already know about Connecticut law on the topic, and whether it includes all the relevant Connecticut statute or regulation sections.