BY TAYLOR BENNETT, POLICY COORDINATOR, THE HUB
When votes are cast in the legislative process, sometimes many of the voting legislators agree on whether or not a bill or amendment should pass and the the vote shows a strong majority in one direction or the other.
Other times, opinions are relatively equally divided and a decision is determined by just one or two votes. In cases like this – particularly when the issue at hand is something that legislators feel strongly about – a roll call is often demanded.
Demanding a roll call can be done by any legislator before a vote is cast to make sure that a record of how each person voted is made available to the public. As a citizen you might look at a roll call to see how specific legislators voted on a bill you care about.
If they voted the way that you wanted them to, you might reach out and thank them. If they voted differently than you hoped, you know you might need to spend some more time educating them on why your issue matters.
When a roll call has been demanded, either on the floor or in a committee, it can be found by going to the Bills Status page, entering the bill number, and looking at the action history. Let’s use HB 2420 – Establishing the Mountaineer Trail Network Recreation Authority – as an example.
Once you enter the bill number in the status page, scroll down until you see a table labeled “Actions.” This notes every action that has been taken on the bill since it was filed for introduction. In this case the most recent action is that the bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Economic Development.
Any time a roll call is demanded, it will show up here on this table. For this bill, how each legislator voted when it passed out of the House by clicking the line that reads, “Passed House (Roll no. 79)” This “Actions” table is also a great place to catch up on how a bill is moving through the legislative process, whether it was amended on the floor of the House or Senate, and where it’s headed to next.
Check out whether roll call was demanded on the bills you care about and let your legislators know what you think.