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Resources: From beginning to end

Published (5/8/2009)
By Session Weekly Staff
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Whether you follow a number of bills or just a few, you don’t have to physically be at the Capitol to track legislation. Through the Legislature’s Web site (www.leg.mn), there are several ways to follow a bill from your computer.

Personalized tracking

The MyBills service allows a user to personalize bill tracking for current legislation, and be notified by e-mail of the bill’s movement through the process.

Beginning at the Legislature’s main page, click “MyBills” under the “Bill Search and Status” heading. This will take you to the “MyBills” subscription page. Once there, just follow the instructions, which includes establishing a username and password. Once that is established you can:

• Receive an RSS feed of bills in your account;

• Add House and Senate bills to your list by bill number, subject or author;

• View the legislative status of your bills, with items with significant current action highlighted;

• Modify your list at any time; and

• Receive daily updates.

Bills, bills and more bills

Information about any bill that has been introduced since 1993 is accessible through the Web.

Begin at www.leg.mn and click on “Bill Search and Status.” This will take you to a page where you can enter a House or Senate file number, which is used to identify a bill in the House or Senate, the name of the chief sponsor in either body, a committee of origin topic, or a keyword description.

Once the search criteria is entered, the “bill status summary” page gives a short version of what the bill is about, and provides links to the status, full text or summary of a bill from the nonpartisan House Research Department. The status area shows the process of a bill from its introduction, through the committee and floor process to gubernatorial action.

Tools to help with your search

You don’t have to know a bill’s number or even the chief sponsor to find information on legislation you are interested in.

There are several features on the Legislature’s Web site to help you determine a bill’s number, and sponsors in both the House and the Senate.

On the main bill tracking search page, there is a section at the top for House and Senate bills. Choose either link and you will be directed to an Internet form providing a number of options.

If you are unsure about the best way to proceed, click the Help button and be directed to the Examples and Explanations page. The page features an explanation of how to search for bills that have been passed or are still in the legislative process.

Near the top of the main “Bill Search and Status” page are four links to four different searches.

• Topic Search: this search allows you to find bills according to the major topic area that it falls into. In some cases, a bill deals with several topics, and the topic you are interested in will be a part of another larger bill.

• Author Search: this option allows you to see all the bills a particular member has sponsored. It is handy when you know a certain representative has sponsored a bill, but you’re not sure of its number or status.

• Committee Search: sometimes all you might know about a bill is that a particular House committee is hearing the bill. This search option allows you to see all the bills initially referred to a committee.

• Action Search: this link offers dozens of possible status actions for bills in the House. This may also be handy if you are trying to determine whether a committee has reported on a certain bill or if you think a bill was acted upon on a certain day, but you’re not sure of any other information.

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