The Alabama Regular Session starts on Tuesday, January 14. Keeping up with what’s happening in Montgomery can be challenging. The Current Legislation page here is certainly a place to start. The traditional media typically reports on a bill after action has been taken, which doesn’t offer much opportunity for input.
So if you want to provide input about a bill, how do you know when those bills you care about come up for discussion and vote?
Set up your own bill tracker! That’s how!
This 3-minute video shows you how to do that.
The Basic Steps
- Go to the ALISON web site.
- Find bills in which you’re interested; jot the numbers down. (It helps also to jot down the number of the last bill you’ve reviewed so you don’t have to start from the beginning each time you review bills that have been introduced.)
- Set up a Personal Instrument List.
- Enter the bill numbers into your list.
- The status of each of the bills will be displayed when you revisit your list through the session.
Another Tool – OpenBama.org
OpenBama.org is an independent web site that presents legislative information in a friendlier, more easily-accessible way. It’s a great place to start looking at bills. Much easier to navigate, much easier on the eyes. You can jot down the bills in which you’re interested and then enter them into your Personal Instrument List on ALISON.
Organizational Bill Trackers
Other Alabama education organization bill trackers can be found on the Reports and Stuff page. It appears that the School Superintendents of Alabama (SSA) have moved their bill tracker behind a password.
Wait. Aren’t public funds used to pay the dues of the superintendents that are members of the SSA and the conference registrations held by the SSA? Here’s the SSA’s 990 for 2011 showing income of $1.2 million, with $1.1 million of that income coming from membership dues and conference fees. Shouldn’t information produced with public funds be made available to the public? I digress.
Best Opportunity to Influence Your Legislator’s Vote
The best opportunity to influence your legislator about a bill is prior to a vote. Votes are taken during (1) committee meetings and then (2) during full chamber debates. If you want to influence a vote on a bill, find out when it’s coming up for discussion in committee (check the schedule here). Contact your legislator and let him or her know your position on the bill. Even if your legislator doesn’t serve on that committee, you can ask your legislator to contact the members of the committee to share your views.
Another best time to contact your legislator is before the bill is debated in the full chamber. Granted, many legislators have their minds made up long before the public debate occurs. That doesn’t mean your beliefs about a bill don’t matter. Be certain to share your views BEFORE the vote, so you know where your legislator stands.
Remember: 2014 is an election year. Every single state legislator will be up for re-election in November. Know where your legislator stands on issues important to you.
So Go Set Up Your List!
Take the time to set up your own list. Go back every week or so to find new bills and see the progress of ones you’re already tracking. Contact your state legislator to share your thoughts. Engage.