PRAMC Glossary

AmendmentAmendments contain language used to substitute original language in the bill. The substitute language must be voted upon and approved by a majority in committee to be adopted into the bill.
ArchivesAn archive is a place in which public records and/or historical documents are preserved.
Bicameral LegislatureA governmental body with two legislative or parliamentary chambers. The United States Legislature is comprised of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The British Parliament is comprised of the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
BillA bill is proposed legislation. In the United States, any member of a state legislature or the Congress may introduce a bill. Sometimes, bills are introduced on behalf of a constituent. Bills that originate in an Assembly or the House are usually assigned an A or H number. Bills originating in the Senate are assigned an S number.
CensusA census is the systematic gathering and recording of information about a population. In the United States, a federal census is undertaken every ten years. The next federal census will be taken in 2020. Census records are closed for a period of 72 years. Records of the 1940 federal census became publicly available in 2012. Canada gathers census data at five year intervals, with its last census conducted in 2011. Canada’s census is closed for a period of 91 years. Different countries have different embargo dates for their censuses.
Closed RecordsClosed records are records that are closed to the public, but may still be available qualified researchers.
Committee ActionIn the United States, bills are referred to the appropriate committee for consideration. Some bills may be introduced to more than one legislative committee. Committee members deliberate issues in the bill by holding hearings. If the vote is in favor of the bill, the bill then moves on to the next committee or for floor action. Bills that do not pass out of committee die, with no further action to be taken.
Committee and StaffEvery bill in the United States is assigned to be considered by a committee charged with overseeing specific areas of interest. Each committee has staff that generally do most of the work to prepare for hearings on the bill by the legislative committee.
Conference CommitteeIn the United States, a bill that is passed in one legislature chamber that is not identical to a corresponding bill passed in the other chamber is sent to a Conference Committee comprised of members from each chamber. The Conference Committee meets to work out the differences. If the Conference Committee reaches a compromise, it prepares a written conference report to be submitted to and approved by both chambers.
Companion BillIdentical or near identical bills introduced separately in each chamber of the US legislature or US Congress is the official website for U.S. federal legislative information. It is presented by the Library of Congress (LOC) using data from the Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Office of the Secretary of the Senate, the Government Publishing Office, Congressional Budget Office, and the LOC's Congressional Research Service.
ConstituentA constituent is a citizen who resides in the electoral district represented by the legislator.
Co-SponsorCo-sponsors are legislators who also place their names on a bill in support of said bill.
Court of Justice of
European Union
The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) is the highest court in the European Union for resolving European Union legal issues. The Court is located in Luxembourg. Its mission includes, reviewing the legality of actions taken by institutions of the European Union; interpreting European Union law; and enforcing compliance with treaty obligations by member states of the European Union.
Death Master FileThe Death Master File (DMF) is maintained by the United States Social Security Administration. The DMF contains information (given name, surname, date of birth, month and year of death, and Social Security Number) on individuals with United States Social Security numbers whose deaths were reported to the Social Security Administration. As of 2015 Social Security Number in the DMF is embargoed for three years since date of death.
Effective DateThe Effective Date is the date when a law goes into effect. If an emergency status is included in the law, it will become effective upon being signed by the governor or President, as the case may be in the United States. If the law does not include emergency status, the law will become effective upon a specified date for the state or federal government, as the case may be (i.e., January 1 or October 1).
Engrossed BillFinal copy of the bill passed by either legislative chamber in the United States with amendments and then is delivered to the other legislative body.
Enrolled BillFinal copy of a bill that has passed both the chambers of the U.S. legislature/Congress in identical form.
European UnionThe European Union (EU) is the political and economic union of 28 European member states. EU citizens elect representatives to the European Parliament. The EU operates through the following supranational institutions: European Parliament, European Council, Council of the European Union, European Commission, Court of Justice of the European Union, European Central Bank, and the Court of Auditors.
European Union Data
Protection Regulation
In 1995 the European Union adopted a directive which regulates the processing of personal data within the European Union. In 2012, the European Commission unveiled a draft European General Data Protection Regulation that will supersede the Data Protection Directive. In December 2015, the three legislative branches came to an understanding about the proposed regulation. It is expected to be passed by the EU Parliament and the EU Council will vote in early 2016 to adopt the new data privacy regulation which incorporates the “right to be forgotten/erased.”
Floor ActionBills in the United States, approved by committee then go to the floor, where they are put on the calendar for a vote.
Declaration of Rights
The Genealogists’ Declaration of Rights (GDoR) advocates open access to federal, state, and local public records, in affirmation of the United States’ long history of open public records and currently under threat due to concerns about privacy and identity theft. The GDoR was started in May 2014 and at this time is only applicable to United States citizens.
HearingsHearings provide an opportunity for public input and testimony on issues pertaining to bills.
HIPAAThe United States Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act includes a privacy rule to safeguard individual personal health records, data, and information.
Identity TheftIdentity theft is a crime of financial fraud involving the deliberate use of someone else’s identity, usually to unlawfully obtain credit and other financial benefits in the victim’s name.
KnessetUnicameral elected legislature of State of Israel.
LawIn the United States, after a bill has been voted upon and approved by the legislature, it becomes law upon being signed by the state governor or the President, as the case may be. In the event a bill is vetoed by the governor or President, as the case may be, the veto may be overridden by the vote of a stipulated percentage in order to become law. Bills that become law are assigned a number.
Legislative WebsitesState and Federal Legislatures maintain websites where one may find the contact information for their elected officials as well as access pending legislation. IAJGS Website has a list of (Canadian) Provincial and Federal websites and (US) State and Congress websites.
LegislaturesA deliberative body of persons, usually elective, who are empowered to make, change, or repeal the laws of a country or state. Legislatures may be bicameral or unicameral. The United States federal government and all but one of the states have two chambers: a House or Assembly and a Senate. The State of Nebraska and the territories of Guam and the Virgin Islands have unicameral legislatures. In Canada, legislatures are provincial and Parliament is federal.
LobbyingThe process of attempting to influence the passage, defeat or content of legislation or regulations by individuals or interest groups other than members of the legislature/Congress/state office.
ParliamentAn elected legislative body of government. Parliaments may be bicameral or unicameral. Parliaments are found in countries such as Austria, Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Poland, Russia, South Africa and the United Kingdom.
RegulationA rule or directive made and maintained by a governmental authority such as state or federal agency (e.g., Department of Public Health). The regulation is usually based on the interpretation and agency follow-through of a law that has been enacted by a state legislature of Congress.
Right to be Forgotten/
The "Right to be Forgotten" was determined in 2014 by the European Court of Justice to be a human right. The Right to be Forgotten requires the removal of and restriction of access to publicly available information. In practice, the Right to be Forgotten impacts data protection laws and the processing and publication of personal data.
SponsorThe sponsor is the original legislator who introduced a bill. Bill sponsors often introduce bills for issues they are interested in or on behalf of constituents.
Unicameral LegislatureA representative form of government with a single legislative or parliamentary chamber. In the United States, Nebraska is the only state that has a unicameral legislature. Countries having a unicameral legislature include Denmark, Finland, Israel, Sweden and New Zealand.
Vital RecordsVital records of births, marriages, and deaths are records of life events kept under governmental civil authority within the jurisdiction where the event occurred (i.e., county or state in the United States).
VoteA bill in the United States that has been approved by committee then proceeds to be voted upon by the full legislative chamber. If it passes, the bill then moves to the next chamber for committee hearings and floor action.

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