Frequently Asked Questions
What is OLR? How is it organized?
1. What is OLR? How is it Organized?
OLR is the nonpartisan, nonfiscal research arm of the General Assembly. The Legislative Library is a part of OLR organizationally. The services of both OLR and the library are available to all members, regardless of party or rank, and their staff.
OLRís research analysts and attorneys are each assigned to one or more of the Legislatureís committees, except Appropriations, which is staffed solely by the Office of Fiscal Analysis. Researchers develop expertise in the issues, laws, policies, and programs that fall within their committeesí jurisdictions. They respond to questions in those areas from all members and can be assigned questions that fall outside of their committee assignments as the need arises.
2. What does OLR do?
OLR staff write research reports to answer questions from members, analyze bills and amended bills, and summarize public acts. At your request, staff can also provide background materials from other sources, write questions for use at public hearings, attend meetings with lobbyists and constituents, and brief committees and committee caucuses on bills. OLR staff, as well as the staffs of LCO and OFA, also provide an institutional memory. The Legislative Library provides legislative, legal and general research services, including legislative histories, journal and article searches, and historical research. The library staff collect and maintain a large collection of print and electronic documents and databases, such as board appointments and mandated reports. The library works with all non-partisan offices, individual legislators, political caucuses and joint committee offices.
3. What does OLR not do?
We do not:
4. Iím a new legislator, how can OLR help me?
In addition to writing research reports to answer specific questions you might have, we can:
5. What kinds of research does OLR do?
We conduct research on public policy issues and problems and options for addressing them. This type of research includes describing Connecticut programs and policies and comparing them to those in other states, describing federal and other statesí policies and programs, analyzing court cases, providing policy options and the pros and cons of pending bills, and summarizing the history of legislation.
The Legislative Library provides legislative, legal and general research services, including legislative histories, journal and article searches, and historical research. The library staff collect and maintain a large collection of print and electronic documents and databases, such as board appointments and mandated reports. The library works with all non-partisan offices, individual legislators, political caucuses and joint committee offices.
OLR staff generally do not conduct empirical research, that is, we do not test hypotheses against evidence we collect from the field. (The Legislative Program Review and Investigations Committee staff does this kind of data collection and analysis for the committee.) Sometimes, though, when specifically asked and as time permits, we will conduct surveys to answer questions about current practices in the field. For example, how many school boards test athletes for drugs?
OLR staff do not do research in fiscal areas, that is the role of the Office of Fiscal Analysis. But we will do research that has a fiscal component if the bulk of the research deals with policy or programs. For example, describe Connecticutís health care programs for seniors and how much they cost last year. We will also collaborate with OFA analysts to produce a report that combines policy and fiscal research.
The Legislative Library provides legislative research services, including legislative histories, journal and article searches, and in-depth historical research. The library staff collect and maintain a large collection of print and electronic documents and databases, such as board appointments and mandated reports. The library works with all non-partisan offices, individual legislators, political caucuses and joint committee offices.
6. Can OLR help me take care of a constituentís problem?
Yes, in a limited way. OLR staff can provide you (and through you, your constituent) with a basic understanding of the law or agency practice that relates to the problem, but we will not contact an agency on your constituentís behalf. For example, we can tell you how to appeal a Department of Public Health citation for violating a day care regulation, but we wonít call the department to talk about your constituentís citation. And we donít contact constituents to ask them to explain the problem; we depend on you and your staff to give us the relevant details.
7. What is an OLR research report?
An OLR research report is an individualized response to a legislatorís question. Most reports are short (typically 2 to 5 pages). They state the question you asked, contain a brief summary answer, then a more detailed explanation or analysis of the findings.
8. How can I ask OLR to write a research report?
You can call (ext. 8400) (860-240-8400), write a letter, or email the office or the particular staff member who covers the area in which you have a research request. Your staff can also contact OLR to ask a question for you.
We can best answer your question if you tell us exactly what you want. For example, donít ask for information on guns, ask for a report on the types of guns that are classified as assault weapons. Staff will help you frame your question so that you get the information you want.
9. How long does it take to get a report?
The timing depends on your needs. If you need the answer within a couple hours or days, we will provide you with the best response we can within your time frame. If your question is complex or you want a more comprehensive answer, we may ask for more time.
10. Are OLR reports available to members and the public?
Yes, after they are sent to the requestor, they are posted on the CGA intranet website for access by other members and staff and on Internet website for members of the public. They are also available in the Legislative Library under the same time frames. The name of the legislator who requested the report is removed once it becomes publically available.
OLR staff will provide information on a confidential basis, if you request this. Please see our Confidentiality Policy.
The Legislative Library maintains a collection of OLR reports available in hard-copy back to the 1970s. In addition OLR reports from the 1980 through 1993 have been scanned into electronic format by Library staff.
11. What role do OLR staff play in committees?
We help committee leaders develop agendas for public hearings and committee meetings and screen bills before final action, attend public hearings, and answer membersí questions at meetings. We can also brief the committee or its caucuses on issues or bills the committee is considering.
12. What is a bill analysis?
A bill analysis is a comprehensive explanation of a billís legal effects. OLR staff analyze each bill reported to the House or Senate floor by a joint or select committee, except for bills that originate in the Appropriations Committee. Staff also analyze all bills that are amended and sent to another chamber.
The bill analysis is written in lay language understandable to members who are unfamiliar with the bill or the billís subject matter. It is not meant to be a substitute for reading the bill. An analysis generally contains a summary section highlighting the billís principal legal effects, which is followed by a detailed explanation of all its substantive effects. Some analyses contain a background section that provides information, such as court cases or related state or federal laws, to help members better understand the bill. And some contain a ďcommentĒ section that points out problems in a billís language, such as internal conflicts or conflicts with other laws.
The bill analysis appears at the end of the file copy following the fiscal note. It is available to members when the file is posted on the Internet.
13. Can I get an analysis of a bill or an amendment before it appears on the file?
As mentioned above, OLR staff analyze all bills that as they are reported to the floor and after they are amended and sent to another chamber. We will analyze a bill before it reaches the floor or an amendment before it is acted on if the language you want analyzed is publicly available or you give it to us. You can contact the appropriate OLR staff person who can either write an OLR report analyzing the bill or amendment or give you a brief verbal summary.
14. What should I do if I think a report (or a bill analysis) is incorrect?
Contact the author or the office director, Sandra Norman-Eady, as appropriate (see our Policy on Revisions and Corrections).
15. How can I contact OLR during late-night sessions?
Several OLR staff members are always in the office when the House or Senate is in session. You can call us (ext. 8400) from the floor or a caucus office or email us from your desk. Even if the specific staff member you want is not on duty that evening, one of our experienced personnel will be able to help you. You can reach the library at x8888 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
16. How can I find out if my bill passed?
During the last days of the session, bills move so rapidly that members sometimes lose track of specific items that are of interest to them. Bills on the calendar are merged; bills that never made it to the calendar are resurrected and substituted for file copies. Itís often a blur even to seasoned observers.
OLR, in consultation with LCO and OFA, publishes a document that tries to track where bills or concepts originally incorporated in bills that didnít pass on their own may have ended up. The ďBill Tracking ReportĒ comes out within a few weeks after the session ends.
17. How can I find out what laws the General Assembly enacted?
OLR produces several documents after each session to describe what laws the General Assembly passed. These documents are available in the Legislative Library.
18. How can OLR help me keep up with issues, problems, and trends in a policy area?
OLR can help you in several ways. We can also send you articles from various publications the Legislative Library receives. The Legislative Library offers weekly email bulletins with links to articles and blog postings on various policy issues, and also emails the table of contents from print periodicals received by the library. Contact the library for more information and to be added to the distribution list.
19. Does OLR help legislative commissions and task forces?
Yes, at the request of their legislative members, OLR will assist commissions and task forces. OLR staff can research topics, make presentations, line up speakers, and draft the commission or task forceís report for the membersí approval. The Legislative Library keeps databases of task force appointments and tracks and collects mandated reports.
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Office of Legislative Research
Legislative Office Building, Suite 5300
Phone: 860-240-8400 FAX: 860-240-8881