Editorial: Following Legislature has never been easier

Finding out what your lawmakers in the Indiana Legislature are doing has never been easier if you know where to look. We’d like to help by sharing a few tips that we hope will give you some tools to keep up on issues you care about.

Start at the Indiana General Assembly home page, iga.in.gov. Here, you’ll find information about the current year’s session, as well as information about every lawmaker, how to contact them, the bills they have introduced, and so much more. And if you have questions, the site has answers under the “Information” and “FAQs” tab.

Watch it: If you want to watch live House or Senate sessions, you can do so by clicking the “Session” tab, then selecting the webcast you want. Also under the “Session” tab, you can find daily calendars that tell you the bills and resolutions the House and Senate will vote on that day and in the days ahead. There is also a “Video Archive” tab on the home page, in case you want to view prior sessions. Likewise, House and Senate committee sessions can be viewed by clicking the committee hearing you want to watch under the “Upcoming Meetings” field on the right side of the home page.

Find it: Suppose you’re interested in bills regarding schools. Click the “Legislation” tab. This will let you search bills by legislator or by subject. Click “By Subject,” and you’ll find a searchable index as well as an A-Z directory of bill topics. Type “school” in the search field, and links to numerous subtopics are shown, each linking to bills filed on that particular topic. Click the link to an individual bill, and you’ll see a digest for the bill and other information.

Track it: Let’s look into one of the highest-profile and most controversial bills this session, House Bill 1001. Among other things, HB 1001 would prohibit businesses from enforcing COVID-19 vaccination mandates. Because we know the bill number, we can click the “Bills” tab in the upper-right corner, and enter “1001” in the field that says “Bill Number.”

What we then see is the bill’s author, its co-sponsors, and a digest providing an overview of what the legislation proposes to make law. You can see the full bill language by clicking the “Latest Version” tab at left. Also at left, the “Bill Actions” tab will show whether the bill is advancing toward becoming law. The bill actions for HB 1001 show it was “referred to Committee on Employment, Labor and Pensions” on Jan. 4, and the entry for Jan. 6 says, “Committee report: amend do pass, adopted.” That’s legislature-speak for the bill was approved in committee and sent to the full House for a future vote with a recommendation that it pass. If you click the “House Roll Call” tab on this bill, you’ll find out how each committee member voted on the bill.

Generally, less than 1 in 10 bills becomes law, but often the process is the purpose behind lawmaking in a democracy — to gauge whether enough lawmakers agree with a proposal that it at least ought to be discussed. Plenty of bills are introduced simply to make some kind of point or statement. Spend a minute or two noodling around the site. You’ll see.

Each of us has the privilege of following and speaking out on these issues, and telling our lawmakers what we think. The General Assembly website gives us the power to do that, putting vast resources and information right at our fingertips.