How to Track a Bill…

FOR COLORADO STATE LEGISLATURE BILLS (for Federal bills, scroll down):

The 2017 Colorado Legislative Session ends on May 11, 2017. We have a Democratic majority in our Colorado State House this session (65 members in the House: 37 Ds, 28 Rs — 2-year terms, 8-year term limit). We have a Democratic minority in our State Senate this session (35 members in the State Senate: 17Ds, 18 Rs — 4-year terms, 8-year term limit). The website to access bill info was updated this year. If you are interested in receiving training to testify for a bill, participate in weekly conference calls with your legislators — and more — please consider joining CLEAN (Citizen Legislative Early Action Network).

It’s helpful to know the bill number (but you can search for a bill using other criteria). Bills are named starting with an SB (Senate Bill) or an HB (House Bill), signifying the side that it originates in. SB or HB is followed by the year of session, then a hyphen, then the bill number. (for example, HB17-1230)

Go to leg.colorado.gov Click the “Find A Bill” icon, and enter your bill number or search criteria.

When you click the bill title, the bill page will include the list of sponsors. Clicking on the legislative sponsor name will give you party affiliation, what district they represent (and what counties are within that district), contact info, including an email link.

Going back to the bill page, you’ll find a summary of the bill, what committee the bill is assigned to (remember, there are Senate Committees and House Committees), the actual text of the bill, the bill status (“Introduced”, “Upon Consideration”, etc.), and the Upcoming Schedule: when and where the bill goes to committee (Date, time, meeting room at the Capitol), and what committee. PLEASE NOTE: The meeting rooms for committee hearings have been known to change the morning of the hearing. If you are planning on testifying, be sure to check the bill page for any updates.

Shortcuts:
As you get to know the bill(s) you’re tracking and the leg.colorado.gov page, you can simply type in (for example) leg.colorado.gov/bills/hb17-1230 (swapping out the appropriate bill number you are tracking) in the url field of your browser.

Be sure to use the handy menu tab (3 horizontal lines) at the top right of every page for navigation as well.

FOR FEDERAL LEGISLATURE BILLS:

The 115th Congress convened on January 3, 2017, and will conclude on January 3, 2019. We hold Democratic minorities in both the House and Senate: 435 Representatives (Congresspersons) — 193 Ds, 237 Rs, 5 Vacancies — 2-year terms, unlimited terms. 100 Senators — 46 Ds, 52 Rs, 2 Is — 6-year terms, unlimited terms.

The Indivisible Guide has been extremely energizing and crucial to the surge of citizen participation in the federal legislative process after the 2016 Election. If you haven’t done so already, download the guide, sign up for their updates or connect with a local Indivisible group (Longmont Area Democrats is listed as one). But there are other legislative tracking tools:

Daily Action Alert — Immediate & Easy: “…text the word DAILY to the number 228466 (A-C-T-I-O-N). You’ll be prompted to enter your ZIP code and that’s it—you’re signed up. You will subsequently receive one text message every workday…”

popvox.com — Just recently heard about this one…”POPVOX is a civic engagement platform that meshes real-time legislative data with users’ personal stories and sentiment, delivering public input to government in a format tailored to actionable policy decisions.”

govtrack.us — This one has been around for awhile, and when you register an account online, you can sign up for specific bill updates. It’s for more long-term tracking — since the trump administration is sneaking in bills when the public is distracted by tweets.

congress.gov — Official website for U.S. federal legislative information. Pretty wonky, but a good resource.

There’s an app for that: Try Votespotter. Once you register and enter your district info, votes from your state and federal reps are tracked for you. You then click whether you agree with their vote, and are taken directly to an email to tell your rep as such.

ourstates.org — Geared for dealing directly with the fallout of a trump agenda, this site opens with a map of the US, and lets you know what issues are being threatened by state. Check it out!