Neha, a first year graduate student


Governance and Public Policy


Write a detailed legislative history and analysis of a public law passed by Congress on a domestic policy issue


Find information about a public law

Starting Info:

Neha just read an article about the SAVE LIVES Act of 2004, a bill to amend the Communications Act of 1934 and the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to ensure the availability of radio spectrum for use by public safety agencies

  1. Selects the Advanced Search form from the LexisNexis Congressional options for Congressional Publications searches to have a wide range of options for limiting her search.

  2. On the Advanced Search form, de-selects everything except Legislative Histories by hitting Clear All and checking the appropriate box, and leaves the date restriction at the default Previous 2 years.

  3. Types SAVE LIVES Act into the Advanced Search form search box and clicks the Search button, but gets no results.

  4. Puzzled, wonders if she has somehow gotten the act name wrong and so decides to do a new search using the other information she has; types Communications Act in one search box, Homeland Security Act in the second box, and radio in the third search box.

  5. Clicks the Search button, but gets no results.

  6. Certain that the information she has can’t be totally wrong, decides to check the information against data elsewhere in the database, and expands the search to search Any Congress.

  7. Clicks Select All so that all data will be searched rather than just the data with the Legislative Histories document type label. 

  8. Clicks the Search button.

  9. Gets as a result a record with the Report document label and the title SAVE LIVES Act of 2004.  

  10. Opens the report record and sees that there is no reference to a public law.

  11. Asks a librarian who explains that the reason the legislative history search did not return any results is because the bill Neha is searching for was reported in the Senate, but was not enacted into law; Susan could click the bill number in the SAVE LIVES Act record and retrieve the relevant bill text and the bill tracking report, but Neha's assignment specifically calls for a legislative history of a public law, so that wouldn’t help her.

  12. Clears form and once again de-selects everything except the Legislative Histories document type. 

  13. Types homeland security in the search box and leaves the default set at Previous 2 years.

  14. Clicks the Search button.  

  15. Retrieves results for legislative histories for public laws enacted in the past two years, all pertaining to homeland security issues; selects the law that most interests her and is ready to begin her analysis.

Search Tips: Legislative histories are compiled only for bills that are enacted into law and legislative history searches retrieve results only for bills that have been enacted into law.