Friday, January 14, 2011

Following the State Legislature From Your Living Room

If you'd like to keep up with what is happening in the 2011 General Assembly, there are options you have to do so from your living room and with a schedule that fits yours.

First, the General Assembly's website offers streaming media from both chambers when they are in session, and from key committee hearings. There are also archives of past broadcasts. All are accessible from .

A list of all bills is available by topic (click here).

A list of all bills still alive by number is also available (click here).

When you see a bill whose topic interests you from either of the two lists, click on the link and you can get tons of information on that particular bill. This information includes the latest version of the bill, its progress through the session and how folks voted along the way, and all amendments offered. What I have found to be most useful are 'fiscal impact statements', which are put together by the Legislative Services Agency. The LSA summarizes the key elements of each bill and analyzes the costs and/or revenues to state and local government for each element. I very often find that their summary makes the bill itself far more understandable, and it certainly points out key elements you might otherwise miss by trying to scan the bill itself. They will update their analysis as each bill is amended, so always pick the latest version of the fiscal impact statement.

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