Website allows people to play a role in the legislative process
Le.utah.gov has bill tracking, budget information and calendar tools
With little more than a week left, the Utah State Legislature’s 2017 general session is almost over.
Jason Gould, a Utah Senate staff member, said keeping track of what goes on inside the Capitol’s walls during the 45-day session is somewhat overwhelming, given all the tasks legislators must accomplish. And even though the session is more than halfway over, Gould said people should still follow what’s happening.
Charged with answering people’s inquiries on lawmakers’ latest decisions, Gould said there is one tool that keeps him up-to-date: le.utah.gov, the Utah State Legislature’s website.
“I have it up on my computer all day long,” he said. “I use it a lot when I answer calls in session. People will ask, ‘Can you give me information on a certain bill?’ I’ll then use the website to pull up a bill to get as much information as I can.”
The website includes features that allow users to keep tabs on bills, committee meetings, floor debates and budget decisions. It also has educational information on how to draft a bill and how a proposed law is passed.
The 2017 Session
Found on the le.utah.gov homepage, the 2017 Session tab is something Gould visits quite often. It has links to the website’s bill tracking and budget information tools.
Bill tracking allows someone to type in a bill’s number in order to follow its status. When House Bill 253 — a proposed law on short-term rentals — was typed in on Thursday, the website showed the bill was on the calendar for a House third reading.
Gould said he uses bill tracking on a daily basis. He added people, in addition to typing in bill numbers, can also track bills by individual legislators and committees.
Rep. Jacob Anderegg, R-Lehi, created a video tutorial on how to use bill tracking. Gould said the video is helpful and can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVeN0ofTwFU.
In addition to the tab’s bill tracking and budget information links, people can use the section to view passed bills, weekly schedules, committee reports and more.
The Calendar tab on the website’s homepage is another tool Gould said people should utilize.
“That’s the calendar that tells the schedule for each committee meeting,” Gould said. “It also tells the schedule for the Senate floor time and House floor time. You can use those weekly schedules to plan ahead.”
The calendar also features videos of meetings that already took place during the 2017 session.
“You can go back in the calendar if you know there was a committee meeting and you’re interested in hearing what they discussed,” Gould said.
Other homepage options
To the left of the 2017 Session and Calendar tabs are several other options that offer information on the Legislature.
The Bills tab has a link to all the bills that have been introduced for the 2017 session. People can also use the tab to view passed bills and to conduct a keyword search.
“If you’ve heard there’s a bill about driver’s licenses, you can enter a keyword search with the words ‘driver’s license’ to find that bill,” Gould said.
One tab Gould finds useful for people who want to educate themselves on the legislative process is the Legislative Guide, which has information on how a bill becomes law and on committees, such as the appropriations committees.
The Publications tab on the left side of the homepage is another educational device people can use.
“It has a manual for drafting legislation,” Gould said. “That is handy for people, maybe as lobbyists, who are interested in seeing legislation passed. They can actually use that manual to create draft legislation to hand out to senators or representatives.”
Why to use the website
From its bill tracking to its manual on drafting legislation, le.utah.gov is meant to make it easy for people to get involved in the governmental process without much effort.
Sylvie Wanlass, Senate member of the Legislature’s website team, hopes le.utah.gov encourages people to learn more about the government.
“It is very important that the public play a role in the legislative process, and le.utah.gov makes it easy,” she said.
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