It can be very helpful at times to anticipate what the law will be, not what it is. A change in the laws, rules or regulations affecting your industry can have a dramatic effect, for example, on how your company operates or the success of a transaction or even of your entire business.
Being a member of industry organizations will help keep your company abreast of potential changes in the law. But given what’s happened in Washington the past week with a proposed bailout or other solution to address the credit crunch in the U.S., tracking legislation directly via the source can be more timely.
To that end, there are some excellent federal resources available online. The Library of Congress offers Thomas, which provides easy access to federal legislative and other information. I primarily have used Thomas to search for specific text in Bills under discussion and Committee Reports, but it includes links to access current activity in Congress, Public Laws since 1973, House and Senate roll call votes since 1989, Presidential nominations, and treaties entered into by the U.S. since 1990, among many other options. Thomas also has links to other House, Senate, Executive and Judicial Branch resources.
Another useful federal resource is USA.gov, the official U.S. gateway to all government information. There’s so much information that it can be overwhelming, but the U.S. government has done a good job of providing it on the Internet. In my opinion, their websites are better organized and easier to use than those of many private companies.