FAQs

Users can search the AEL Tracker by state, policy category, keywords, year, bill status, bill number, sponsor, or through any combination of these. What follows provides answers to questions about using the website.


1. Do you have a tutorial on how to use the website?
2. How do I search for a specific bill?
3. How do I see a list of all of the 2016 bills in the Tracker database?
4. How do I see a list of all of the bills for a given state or group of states?
5. How do I see a list of all of the bills filed under a given policy category or group of categories?
6. How do I search for bills from a particular session?
7. How are bills assigned a year?
8. How do I see a list of all of the bills with a given status?
9. How do I search using multiple keywords?
10. My search returned a large number of results. How do I sort this list? How do I search within this list?
11. My search for a single policy category or bill status returned results that include at least one other category or status. Why is this happening?
12. What policy types do the policy categories cover?
13. Many bills could be filed under multiple policy categories. Did your coding system allow for cross categorization?
14. What do the bill status icons mean?
15. I cannot find a bill that I am looking for. What should I do?
16. How do I interact with the U.S. maps?
17. How do I interact with the Policy Category and Status Distribution pie charts?
18. How often is the Tracker database updated?
19. When was new legislation last added to the Tracker database?
20. Can I view information about the most recently active bills?
21. Do you provide access to the latest news stories published about legislation in the database?
22. What sources are used to collect bill information?
23. How is information related to individual bills updated?
24. I have accessed the database of bills awaiting approval and categorization. What is this? How do I use this database?
25. How do I access CNEE analyses and reports?
26. I would like to request that you add a bill to the database. How do I do this?
27. Can I submit feedback or obtain additional information about the AEL Tracker?
28. If I want to use your data, trends, analyses or other information from this website, how should I cite the AEL Tracker?


Q:  Do you have a tutorial on how to use the website?

A:  Yes. Click on video for a quick tutorial of how to use the Tracker website  http://www.screencast.com/t/ZdfmioIK


Q:  How do I search for a specific bill?

A:  If you know the bill number: on the Search Tracker page, select the state and enter the bill number into the keywords box and hit 'Enter' or click 'Display My Results'. If you do not know the bill's number, you can also search using other types of keywords. To do this, select the state and enter search terms into the keywords box. For tips on searches using multiple keywords, please click here.


Q: How do I see a list of all of the 2016 bills in the Tracker database?

A:  On the Search Tracker page, and without making any other selection, hit 'Enter' or click 'Display My Results'.


Q:  How do I see a list of all of the bills for a given state or group of states?

A:  On the Search Tracker page, select the state or states of interest and hit 'Enter' or click 'Display My Results'.


Q:  How do I see a list of all of the bills filed under a given policy category or group of categories?

A:  On the Search Tracker page, select the policy category or categories and hit 'Enter' or click 'Display My Results'. 


Q:  How do I search for bills from a particular session?

A:  On the Search Tracker page, use the dropdown menu to select the year the bill was introduced and hit 'Enter' or click 'Display My Results'. 


Q: How are bills assigned a year?

A:  Because sessions are designated differently across the states, all bills are assigned a year according to the date on which they were introduced. (For a list of legislative session dates, click here.)


Q:  How do I see a list of all of the bills with a given status?

A:  On the Search Tracker page, select that status and hit 'Enter' or click 'Display My Results'. Multiple status types can also be selected.


Q: How do I search using multiple keywords?

A: If you are looking for a specific type of bill that is associated with two or more words, enter those words separated by commas. For instance, to find bills that address solar and net-metering, enter 'solar, net-metering'. If you wish to browse more generally, enter keywords separated by the word 'or'. For instance, if you are interested in bills that treat wind, solar or biomass energy, enter 'wind or solar or biomass' into the keywords box.


Q: My search returned a large number of results. How do I sort this list? How do I search within this list?

A: The grey toolbar displayed above your search results allows sorting in ascending or descending order. Sort results alphabetically by clicking on state, status, bill title, policy category, or primary sponsor(s). Results can also be sorted numerically by year of introduction, date of last update, or, for searches of a single state's legislation, by bill number. To search within your results, enter a state, year of introduction, bill number, sponsor name, or other keyword in the 'filter' box above the grey toolbar.


Q. My search for a single policy category or bill status returned results that include at least one other category or status. Why is this happening?

A: This happens because we have labeled certain bills as companions. In an effort to provide users with more information rather than less, information for a bill's companion is displayed in search results for a search for that bill. This means that information about companions will also appear in searches for groups of bills, including searches by policy category and bill status. However, companions are not always treated in precisely the same manner throughout the legislative process. This means that companions that began the legislative process in the same policy category may be amended in such a way that they no longer fit into that same policy category. This also means that companions may not end up in precisely the same place in the legislative process. 


Q:  What policy types do the policy categories cover?

A:  Examples of the types of legislation found under each category can be accessed here.


Q: Many bills could be filed under multiple policy categories. Did your coding system allow for cross categorization?

A:  All bills were assigned to a single, primary policy category. By reading bill summaries, language, and statements of purpose, a best fit was determined for each bill. In addition to a primary category, sub-categories were also provided for many bills. To find bills that include sub-categorizations, enter a category name in the keyword search box. For example, to find bills related to financial incentives for energy efficiency, select the 'Financing and Financial Incentives' policy category and enter "energy efficiency" into the keywords box.


Q: What do the bill status icons mean?

A:  The bill status icons reflect where bills are or how far they progressed in the legislative process. 'I' means that a bill has been introduced but not passed by a legislative chamber. This might mean that a bill stalled,  remains in the committee process, or is pending a vote. 'P1' means that a bill was voted on and passed by its chamber of origin. The bill may or may not remain active. 'P2' means that a bill was voted on and passed by both legislative chambers. The bill may be awaiting a Governor's signature, may have been vetoed, or may be going through additional legislative processes. 'E' means that a bill was enacted into law.


Q:  I cannot find a bill that I am looking for. What should I do?

A:  The bill that you are looking for may be awaiting approval and categorization by our student research team. To view this database, click here. You can also request that we add a bill to the database. To do so, please fill out the form provided here. If you are experiencing difficulty searching the database or have other questions, please contact us.


Q:  How do I interact with the U.S. maps?

A:  All maps can be interacted with in two ways. First, a bill count for any state can be displayed by hovering your cursor over that state. Second, clicking on a state will bring up a pop-up window that displays policy category and status distributions of the bills for that state. On the Maps and Graphs page, the Geographic Distribution of Bills by Policy Category maps can be interacted with in the following manner: By hovering your cursor over a particular state, a bill count will be displayed. Clicking on a state will take you to a list of the bills filed under that category for that state.


Q:  How do I interact with the Policy Category and Status Distribution pie charts?

A:  A bill count for any category or status can be displayed by placing your cursor over the corresponding wedge. Clicking on a wedge will redirect you to the list of the bills represented by the wedge.


Q: How often is the Tracker database updated?

A: Presently, new bills are being added to the database daily. Information related to the bills contained in the database is also updated daily.


Q: When was new legislation last added to the Tracker database?

A: We are currently adding legislation introduced for 2016. We will continue to update the database throughout the year. (For a list of legislative session dates, click here.)


Q:  Can I view information about the most recently active bills?

A:  Yes. You can find this here or by selecting 'Recent Activity' in the drop-down menu under "Search Tracker" in the toolbar.


Q:  Do you provide access to the latest news stories published about legislation in the database?

A:  Yes. You can find this information here or by selecting 'Recent News' in the drop-down menu under "Search Tracker" in the toolbar. Links to news stories related to individual bills are also posted on bill pages.


Q: What sources are used to collect bill information?

A: Bill information is obtained from the Sunlight Foundation's Open States API. We also periodically review individual states' websites and other available databases. 


Q. How is information related to individual bills updated?

A. Information is automatically updated through the Sunlight Foundation's Open States API. News stories related to individual bills are obtained from Google and Yahoo news feeds.


Q:  I have accessed the database of bills awaiting approval and categorization. What is this? How do I use this database?

A:  This database contains a list of bills obtained through the Sunlight Foundation's Open States API. These potential new additions to the AEL Tracker are in holding to be approved and categorized or rejected by our student research team. Providing access to this database is a way to ensure that users can continue to search for energy-related bills from all 50 states and the District of Columbia without having to wait for bills to be added to the AEL Tracker database. To search for a specific bill, enter the bill’s number in the ‘filter’ box. To search more generally, enter a keyword into the filter box. If a long list of bills results, sort bills by using the grey toolbar to order the bill list in ascending or descending order by number, state, session, and date created. Results can also be sorted to display likely additions, as determined by use of a keywords filter and represented by a check mark in the ‘Likely’ column.


Q:  How do I access CNEE analyses and reports?

A:   These are available through the Trends & Analysis page. If you would like to receive email notifications when we publish a paper, please send your email address with the subject line "Mailing List" to info@aeltracker.org.


Q: I would like to request that you add a bill to the database. How do I do this?

A: Please fill out the form provided here. Fields marked by an *asterisk are required. Providing the year a bill was introduced is strongly encouraged. Please note that while we will try to honor all requests, we will not enter non-energy-related bills and we will not enter bills introduced prior to 2012.


Q: Can I submit feedback or obtain additional information about the AEL Tracker?

A: We would be happy to hear from you. Please email us at info@aeltracker.org.


Q: If I want to use your data, trends, analyses or other information from this website, how should I cite the AEL Tracker?

A: Our information is free and open, however we ask that if you use our information in any way that you cite the following:  "Information obtained from the Advanced Energy Legislation Tracker, Colorado State University's Center for the New Energy Economy and Advanced Energy Economy."