Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Inside the House: Finding online information

Rep. Rick Watrous

How does a citizen find out what is going on in the NH House of Representatives? It is all a few clicks away at http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/house/.
State reps, lobbyists, and interested citizens use this site to keep track of all the public hearings, meetings, and the thousand or so bills that have been filed. At the top of the page, under the House of Representatives banner, you will see a number of subheadings that you can click on. N.H. General Court (the official name for the N.H. House and Senate) brings you to the home page for state government. Bill Status Search takes you to the Advanced Bill Status Search which enables you to find the status of a particular bill. Statutes brings you the state’s laws or RSAs—crucial reading for lawmakers and engaged citizens.
On the left you will see a number of links, including Calendars & Journals. This is a vital link to the official record for the House. Go there and you will find the weekly Calendars that keep us all informed about House sessions, committee meetings, and all the various bills. State reps receive a Calendar every week and avidly go through it to find out what is going on. Open the most recent Calendar to see upcoming events.
Find a Bill takes you to a variety of bill search engines. Tip: do not just put in the bill #, you need to put “hb” (for “house bill”) before the number. If you don’t know a bill’s #, go to Bill Text Searching and type in some key text, such as “right-to-know”, and you will see a listed of related bills.
Find a Legislator lets you determine who your representatives are, as well as providing their contact information and voting records.
House Committees provides a number of links to the twenty-plus committees that do the work on all the bills. You will discover who chairs the committee and the identities of all its members. Committees are labeled according to the matters they cover: Judiciary, Transportation, Finance, Education and so forth. There is also a handy monthly calendar at this site. Click on a date and you will see all the committee meetings scheduled for that day.
These are but a few of the features at this wWb site. There is a wealth of information to be had by the dedicated seeker of knowledge. It is there for the use of all.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'd like to see you do a little something on the homeschooling bill being debated today. (1:00) I'm interested in your opinion on this.