Follow what matters to you at the Indiana Statehouse

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(Columbus) The Republic

Tracking developments in the Indiana Legislature is easy if you know where to look. We’d like to help by sharing a few tips and tools to you keep up to date 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 more.

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 bills this session, Senate Bill 1, which deals with a variety of community mental health and behavioral health issues. Because we know the bill number, we can click the “Bills” tab in the upper-right corner, and enter “1” in the field that says “Bill Number.” SB1 is the first that appears.

Click it and you will see the bill’s author, its co-sponsors, and a digest providing an overview of what the legislation proposes. 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 SB1 show it was “referred to Committee on Appropriations” on Jan. 9.

Very few bills that are proposed become 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 and you’ll likely see some of those.

Revisions coming: Meanwhile, people who commonly use the iga.in.gov website should look at the red-letter type at the top of the page, which promises improvements to the site and a beta version that users can test. The revised version looks a bit different, but appears to contain all of the public information the General Assembly has provided in the digital age.

Open, transparent government is a hallmark of a free society. The Indiana General Assembly website measures up in that regard. Anyone with a web connection has the tools at hand to know what our lawmakers are doing and follow those developments in real time.