The Utah Legislature convenes Monday, January 24, for another intensive, faced-paced session. The session runs for just 45 days, adjourning on March 10. Fortunately for Utahns, it is easy to keep up with all of the legislative action. Here are some tips for keeping up with the legislature:
- Use the Utah State Legislature website — Visiting le.utah.gov is the next best thing to visiting the capitol. Take some time to explore this powerful website and familiarize yourself with the many tools it offers. Here are just a few of the great amenities of the site:
- Calendar – View the legislative calendar to see what’s coming up by day, by week and by month. Click each calendar item to see details and agendas, and to listen to audio and/or subscribe to podcasts of meetings. You can even request to have a committee’s agendas and minutes emailed to you.
- Listen in on meetings — You can listen to committee meetings and floor time live, and also find previously recorded audio. Video is also available for some meetings. This is a fascinating, up-to-the-minute approach for following your favorite issues.
- Read Bills and Resolutions — The “Bills” link lets you search for legislation/resolutions by bill number, legislator, subject and more. You can read the bill, check its status (where it is in the process), see how legislators voted on it, and even sign up to receive email updates when the bill’s status changes (a very easy way to keep track of legislation that is of particular interest to you).
- Citizen’s Guide – Click on the “Citizen’s Guide” link to learn all about the legislative process.
- Follow that Legislator — Social networking sites are great for keeping up with your legislator. Become a friend or follower of your legislator on Facebook or Twitter, where you can read their posts about issues and keep current on what they’re accomplishing in the legislature. This is a great way to get to better know your legislator’s principles and practices.
- Open Houses / Forums — Watch for legislative open houses / forums that may be held in your precinct or district during the legislative session. Also be on the lookout for forums such as Eggs and Issues, Lunch with Legislators, etc.
- Contact your Legislators — I encourage you to contact your legislators about issues that are of particular concern to you. As your representatives, they need to know where you stand on the issues. Give them a phone call or send them an email. The legislative session moves quickly, so if you hear that the legislature is addressing an issue that is important to you, don’t delay contacting your legislators.
- Visit the Capitol — The public is free to visit the capitol and attend regular committee meetings and house/senate floor time. Seating for the public is provided at the back of committee meeting rooms. Public viewing galleries for the house and senate are located upstairs above the house/senate floors. Check the legislative calendar to find out what’s going on and when. There are plenty of people at the capitol to help you find what you’re looking for, so don’t be afraid to ask for assistance. Visiting the capitol during the legislative session is educational and enjoyable, and is highly recommended.