Categorization

One of the ways that we add value to the data we provide is by attempting to categorize bills, actions, and votes across states.

Bill Types

Most state legislatures deal with more than bills. Despite the name of the bill objects in our data we take in all types of legislation that a state might produce. Generally looking at the bill_id will help you determine the type of legislation, but to make things easier across states we provide a “type” field on bills.

  • bill
  • resolution
  • joint resolution
  • concurrent resolution
  • constitutional amendment
States with additional types might make use of additional types such as:
  • contract
  • nomination
  • memorial

Action Types

Although most states follow very similar parlimentary procedure the names that their bill status systems use for various actions almost never match up. To make analysis and the building of certain types of tools easier we attempt to categorize about 30 types of common actions. In using our data you’ll find these values in the type field of actions.

Possible values:

bill:introduced
Bill is introduced or prefiled
bill:passed
Bill has passed a chamber
bill:failed
Bill has failed to pass a chamber
bill:withdrawn
Bill has been withdrawn from consideration
bill:veto_override:passed
The chamber attempted a veto override and succeeded
bill:veto_override:failed
The chamber attempted a veto override and failed
bill:reading:1
A bill has undergone its first reading
bill:reading:2
A bill has undergone its second reading
bill:reading:3
A bill has undergone its third (or final) reading
bill:filed
A bill has been filed (for states where this is a separate event from bill:introduced)
bill:substituted
A bill has been replaced with a substituted wholesale (called hoghousing in some states)
governor:received
The bill has been transmitted to the governor for consideration
governor:signed
The bill has signed into law by the governor
governor:vetoed
The bill has been vetoed by the governor
governor:vetoed:line-item
The governor has issued a line-item (partial) veto
amendment:introduced
An amendment has been offered on the bill
amendment:passed
The bill has been amended
amendment:failed
An offered amendment has failed
amendment:amended
An offered amendment has been amended (seen in Texas)
amendment:withdrawn
An offered amendment has been withdrawn
amendment:tabled
An amendment has been ‘laid on the table’ (generally preventing further consideration)
committee:referred
The bill has been referred to a committee
committee:passed
The bill has been passed out of a committee
committee:passed:favorable
The bill has been passed out of a committee with a favorable report
committee:passed:unfavorable
The bill has been passed out of a committee with an unfavorable report
committee:failed
The bill has failed to make it out of committee
other
All other actions will have a type of “other”

Vote Types

Similarly to actions, we make an effort to categorize the motion being voted upon. You’ll find these values in the type field of vote objects.

Possible values:

passage
This is a vote to pass (either out of committee or a chamber)
amendment
Vote on amending a bill
veto_override
Vote to override an executive veto
reading:1
Vote on a first reading
reading:2
Vote on a second reading
other
All other votes

Subjects

Many states provide a list of subject areas for individual pieces of legislation. We’ve made an attempt to map these to a comprehensive set of subjects.

If you’re using the API data you’ll find these in the subjects field if we’ve been able to categorize a state’s bills. If you’re interested in the state’s native categories those can be found in “scraped_subjects”

Possible values:
  • Agriculture and Food
  • Animal Rights and Wildlife Issues
  • Arts and Humanities
  • Budget, Spending, and Taxes
  • Business and Consumers
  • Campaign Finance and Election Issues
  • Civil Liberties and Civil Rights
  • Commerce
  • Crime
  • Drugs
  • Education
  • Energy
  • Environmental
  • Executive Branch
  • Family and Children Issues
  • Federal, State, and Local Relations
  • Gambling and Gaming
  • Government Reform
  • Guns
  • Health
  • Housing and Property
  • Immigration
  • Indigenous Peoples
  • Insurance
  • Judiciary
  • Labor and Employment
  • Legal Issues
  • Legislative Affairs
  • Military
  • Municipal and County Issues
  • Nominations
  • Other
  • Public Services
  • Recreation
  • Reproductive Issues
  • Resolutions
  • Science and Medical Research
  • Senior Issues
  • Sexual Orientation and Gender Issues
  • Social Issues
  • State Agencies
  • Technology and Communication
  • Trade
  • Transportation
  • Welfare and Poverty