Navigating Legislation and Finding the Right Search Terms

June 20, 2023


  • Legislation is often difficult to understand, especially when it involves politically charged issues like Critical Race Theory, drag, or transgender rights.
  • Legislatures intentionally obscure their intentions by using vague language and unrelated terms in bills, hiding the true purpose of the legislation.
  • Finding the correct search words for legislation is challenging, as they can vary between states and change over time, necessitating staying informed and up-to-date on the issues at hand.

Very few pieces of legislation are written in a way that is easy to understand, and this is especially true when dealing with many politically charged issues. A few examples include:

  • Anti-CRT bills don’t mention the words Critical Race Theory
  • Anti-drag bills never include the word Drag
  • Anti-Transgender bills exclude the word transgender

Why is this - There are two reasons why legislation makes it hard to understand clearly what the bill is trying to accomplish.

Legislatures want to hide what they are doing. For example, most anti-CRT state, “it can not be taught that one race is inherently superior to another.” They also use “educational freedom” or “parental rights in education.” All, on the surface, sound like something everyone should support, but it is only when you closely read what is proposed that you genuinely understand what the legislation is trying to accomplish. 

Bills are written to either become law or serve as a messaging tool. Either way, well-written bills must identify the current law, what will need to be changed, and what language needs to be replaced. This is where we recommend focusing when trying to find all bills relevant to a certain cause or issue. Bills targeting transgender rights are a good example. Legislation addressing transgender issues must first describe what a “man” is and what a “woman” is and then explain what these “men” and “women” can and can not do. Montana’s anti-gender-affirming care is a good example of this.

How do I find the correct search terms - This is always the question. Whether dealing with politicized topics or general legislation dealing with your company, finding the correct search terms for legislation can be daunting. Here are a few steps you can take:

  • Google the issue, look for links to legislation and take keywords out of those bills to find similar legislation. One thing to note is that not all states use the exact language/verbiage, so look at several different states.
  • If your organization has an association, look at their website to see if they have the language you can use to start the search process.
  • Finally, try the trial and error approach. Try out many different search terms and see how many results you get and how many are relevant. 

Finding the right search words to find legislation is difficult. They can vary from state to state and can change from month to month. This is why it’s important to stay on top of your issues.

Erin Wiley

Director of Customer Success,

Erin is Director of Customer Success at and is dedicated to helping organizations get the most out of their GR. With over 15 years of experience in politics, project management, and client relations, she manages customer engagement and onboarding processes.  Prior to joining she handled the project and event management for a number of startups and Members of Congress. Born in Oklahoma, she is an active member of the University of Oklahoma Alumni Organization.