BY TAYLOR BENNETT, DIRECTOR OF COMMUNITY BASED POLICY, THE HUB
Citizen lobbyists are faced each year with the task of “cutting through the noise” of the legislative process. A significant part of that is identifying when bills that address topics you care about are introduced and following them as they make their way through the legislative process.
It can be daunting to wade through the flood of bills that are introduced, and when the legislative process kicks into high gear, it can be even more challenging.
Finding bill that cover topics you care about
The legislature’s bill tracking system has never had a great way to search for bills by subject matter you’re interested in. The website doesn’t include a way to search the list of bills that have been introduced for keywords.
This means that if you want to make sure that you don’t miss anything, you have to comb through the complete list of bills introduced. But, the folks at Mountain State Spotlight now have a great solution to this challenge:
We mentioned Mountain State Spotlight’s Capitol Tracker, but we want to give it another shout out because, for the first time, you can search for bills using keywords like “Teacher,” “Income,” or whatever matters most to you. Once you click on the Capitol Tracker banner on their website, just enter your keyword into the “search by name” box, and you’re off.
This tool is imperfect – it doesn’t search for your keyword (examples we used are “Teacher” or “Income”) in the entire text or language of the bill, so you may not get a complete list of all bills that are related to your interest area.
Tracking bills through the process
Once you have a bill number for that piece of legislation you care about, the legislature’s website really can be helpful.
As always, you can use this guide to help you track bills using the legislature’s website.
It may be challenging to access all the information needed to be an effective citizen lobbyist, but new innovators are bridging the gap by creating tools to help us stay engaged in the policymaking process.
Taylor Bennett is The Hub’s Director of Community Based Policy. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.