Improvements to WI Legislature's Databases Enables Users to Research the History of and Connections between State Legislation, Regulations and Case Law

Bruce Hoesly, Revising Attorney/Code Editor at the Legislative Reference Bureau, informed me of some very exciting changes to the Wisconsin legislative and administrative databases on the Legislature’s website.
Note that the link on the Legislature’s homepage that used to say “Searchable Infobases” now says “Documents.” This change reflects the move to the new HTML view from the old NXT view.
Also, documents in the new view now contain lots of links to associated material. This is really exciting and vastly improves one’s ability to research the history of and the connections between legislation or administrative regulations. For example, with just 3 clicks a user can link from a history note for a statute to an underlying act and then to full history of that act. This is so awesome!
Legislation links available:

  • Statutes sections have links to other statute sections and regulations which reference them (click on the magnifying glass icon to the left of the section number)

  • History notes in statutes contain links to the Acts

  • Acts contain links to the underlying bill numbers
  • Bills contains the complete procedural history of the Act including links to the original bill draft and all amendments, voting records, committee records, etc.

  • And Bruce tells me that in the future, they hope to add including a link from the bill’s page to the drafting record

Administrative Regulation links available:

  • When applicable, history notes in statutes also contain cross references to related Administrative Code sections
  • History notes in the Administrative Code sections contain links to superseded text in the Administrative Register and to Clearinghouse Rules (a clearinghouse rule is the administrative law equivalent of the legislative bill)

Case Law links available:

  • When applicable, history notes in statutes also contain links to judicial and attorney general opinions on the Wisconsin Courts website and Google Scholar

I asked Bruce how far back these links go an he said that the statute history notes go back to the 1971 laws. The bill number linking and the associated bill histories go back to 1995. Before that, act links in the statute histories link to a scanned PDF of the act.
Cases go back to 1970. Annotations to law review and bar articles don’t have links yet. Atty general opinions are linked to from 1994, which is not new.
Big kudos and thanks to the Wisconsin Legislature and staff of the LRB for making all of this wonderful information so accessible. This will change the way we do state statutory and regulatory research.