Legislative Research

Legislative Research
Services Available to Legislators

 


If you already know what assistance you need, you may want to go directly to our research request form

The Legislative Council has directed Research Services to concentrate on helping legislative staff find materials and conduct their own research. Legislators and legislative staff can call for this type of immediate research assistance at any time. Research staff members can provide immediate help in several ways, and, as with more extensive research efforts, this work is confidential.

We can provide immediate answers to many short or straightforward questions. The agency maintains an array of general reference materials focusing on state and federal governments, programs, and public policy issues. We can give you immediate help with questions and requests such as the following:

We can provide you with a plan of action — contact names and telephone numbers to get you started. Agency researchers interact with government offices at the federal, state, and local levels; private companies and trade groups; and national lobbying and advocacy groups. We can tell you whom to call to answer questions such as these:

We can provide you with a list of useful sites on the World Wide Web. Agency researchers use the World Wide Web extensively. In addition to the widely useful links listed in our WWW Bookmarks, researchers maintain lists of links on a variety of individual topics.

We can assist you in using resources on INFOBASES. The legislature's data processing division maintains numerous databases containing information such as the text of Alaska statutes and regulations, and information on previous legislative actions (measures, house and senate journals, session laws, committee minutes, etc.) We can offer tips on effectively searching and retrieving relevant information. One of the databases available through Infobases is an index of public research reports (that's LRAR-Legislative Research Agency Requests). This index contains request numbers, titles, authors, dates of completion, length of reports, and key words. To get copies, just call or send an e-mail message with the request number and title. You may find that ALECSYS Infobases, on legislative office computers, not only has more databases but is easier to use. Nevertheless, most of the databases are available on any computer with web access. Your constituents might be interested in the web version of Infobases, including LRAR.

We can point you in the right direction within the agency's specialized library. The library has two types of holdings — a catalogued collection of books and major reports, and a non-catalogued file of clippings and articles from diverse sources on topical issues. Library materials do not circulate, but they are available for use at the agency. An index of the catalogued items is available on the legislative computer system, ALECSYS Infobases.

Written Responses and Substantial Analyses

In addition to the various types of immediate assistance noted above, we provide written responses and more substantial analyses. The following are examples of requests we have received. Although few reports fit neatly into only one category, the requests typically may be described as belonging in one of the following several broad categories.

Analysis of Model Legislation and Legislative Precedents in Other States.
You may want to know about exemplary legislation or programs; you may just want to know how lawmakers in other states have addressed certain issues; or you may want to know how Alaska is doing compared to other states.

Critiques of Reports, Studies, and Bills Affecting Public Policy and Programs
You may be interested in an independent assessment of the thoroughness of a report or study, or you may be interested in an independent assessment of certain possible ramifications of a bill or court rule. The following are examples of this type of request:

Legislative History

You may be interested in the history of certain laws or provisions in Alaska statutes. The following are examples of this type of request:

Evaluation of State and State-Supported Programs

You might want an independent, nonpartisan evaluation of a state or state-supported program. The following are examples of this type of request:

Analysis of Federal Legislation and Regulations Affecting Alaska

You may want to know what, if any, proposed or enacted federal laws and/or regulations impact Alaska. The following are examples of this type of request:

  • Determine if any IRS rule or regulation on privacy precludes the privatization of state child support enforcement efforts.
  • Ascertain the impact that federal habeas corpus reform measures passed in 1996 would have on the cost of the death penalty in Alaska if the state were to institute capital punishment?
  • Analyze the impact of federal welfare reform measures on Alaska.
  • Analyze the impact of the Oil Pollution Control Act of 1990 on Alaska.

Confidentiality of Inquiry


All legislators' research requests are confidential (AS 24.20.100).

Legislative Research staff vigorously guard legislators' confidential requests. If we receive an inquiry about a confidential report, even if the caller appears to be certain that a report has been prepared, staff will neither confirm nor deny that a report exists. Likewise, when contacting state executive branch agencies, Legislative Research staff do not reveal the requestors' name, the intended use of research or information, or the factors that prompted the request without explicit permission from the requesting legislator. In the event that two or more legislators make similar requests, basic data will be shared; however, the agency will release a report with the requestor's name to other legislators and to the public only with the explicit permission of the legislator who originally requested the information. The index of previously prepared Legislative Research reports lists only those reports that legislators have authorized for release to the public.

The fact that research conducted by our staff is confidential may, in itself, be a service you find useful. Sometimes you may want information without other legislators or executive branch officials knowing that you want to know. For example, we can help if you would like to know the possible ramifications of changes to the tax code and you'd like to find out before all the lobbyists in the world find you. Likewise, if you want to know how many fish were harvested by sport anglers on the Kenai, but, for whatever reason, you don't want division officials to know you are the legislator asking, we can help.

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