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LAWS Advanced Preference List Maintenance Help


If you haven't already done so, click on the link "Advanced Preference List Maintenance" from the Update Preference List web page and take a look at the Advanced Maintenance page. The Advanced Maintenance page may appear overwhelming when first viewed. Don't worry, we'll break it down and explain its parts, and hopefully you will see how the parts work together to help you maintain your preference list(s) with power and ease. You may want to print these instructions so you can have a reference handy while you learn to use Advanced Maintenance.

The Advanced Maintenance page is comprised of four browser frames. 1) The "Header" frame. 2) The "List" frame. 3) The "Search" frame. 4) The "Selection List" frame. The four frames work together to help you add bills to, or remove bills from, a preference list.


The Header frame is on the top of the Advanced Maintenance page and is displayed across the full width of the page. It is separated from the other frames with a horizontal gray bar. Note that you can "mouse over" to click-and-drag this bar to increase or decrease the size of the frame (or any other frame). The Header frame displays information about the current preference list, and can be used to add bills to the list if you know the bill(s) number. There are several elements and functions in the Header frame; each is described below.

In the upper left corner is the list selection box.

If you have more than one preference list, you use this drop-down box to select another list. When you make the selection, the List frame will change to reflect the information for the newly selected (active) list.

Immediately right of the selection box is the active list item count.

This tells you how many introduced bills and bill drafts are in the active list. Although the box with the number of bills ("2" in the sample above) appears updateable, it is not. The count is calculated whenever you open the list, add bills, or delete bills.

To the right of the item count is a "View" button.

This button displays a web page where you can view the active list without frames.

To the right of the "View" button is a link to "Help". The link takes you to the help (the document you are reading right now).

Again moving to the right, there are single bill add boxes.

You can add a single introduced bill OR a single bill draft to the active list with these boxes by entering the bill type and number OR bill draft number, then clicking the "Add" button. This functions very much like the Add Single Bill process on the Update Preference List page. The process is described here.

The last item in the the Header frame is the "Return" button. Selecting this will return you to the Update Preference List page (simple list maintenance) for the active list.

Note that depending on your browser and display settings, some of the items listed above as "to the right of" may actually wrap and be on a second row as you view the frame.


The List frame is immediately below the Header frame, and is displayed across the full width of the page. The List frame is separated into two sections. The upper section displays all introduced bills in the active list (if any). The lower section displays all unintroduced bill drafts in the active list (if any). Note that the bill numbers in the introduced section, and the bill draft numbers in the unintroduced section are hyperlinks. To see the bill detail click on the link.

If your list has more that a couple bills, you will need to use the scroll bar on the right to see all of the bills on the list.

The right-most column of both the introduced and unintroduced bill lists contains a check box used to delete bills from the active list. You can delete one or more bills by checking the box(es) then selecting the "Delete Checked" button.

There are up to four "Delete Checked" buttons (one at the top and bottom of both the introduced and unintroduced sections). Clicking on any of these buttons will delete bills checked for delete in both the introduced and unintroduced sections.

Now that you have seen how your list information and bills are displayed, you are ready to learn to use the powerful features of the Advanced Preference List Maintenance screen to build lists. This is accomplished using the two bottom frames. The "Search" frame is located in the bottom left part of the page. The "Selection List" is in the bottom right. The two frames are used together to help you build a list of bills you want to track. You do not have to know bill numbers, just find the bills you want and add them to your list!


The bottom left frame is used find bills based on criteria you select.

Use the following three steps to find bills:

Step 1. Set the search to look for introduced bills, unintroduced bill drafts, or both. Use the two check boxes to make your selection. In the sample above, the selection is both.

Step 2. Click on one of the search criteria links. Your choices are: Subject, Sponsor, Requester, By Request Of, or Return All Bills. All of these, except Return All Bills, will bring up a list of values where you make a selection by clicking on it. For example, clicking on the Subject link will bring up a subject list like this:

Use the scroll bar to move down the list. Once you have located the subject you are interested in, click on the subject description link. This will close the list box and put the selected subject in the "Search By" box of the Search frame.

As noted above, clicking on the "All Bills" link will not display a list of values, it will just put "All Bills" in the Search by box. In this case, the search would return all bills (if both the Introduced and Drafts check boxes are checked).

Step 3. Click on the "Search" button to populate the Selection List frame on the bottom right part of the web page. If any bills or drafts meet your search criteria, the Selection List frame, will display a listing of those bills.


Now you are ready to use the Selection List frame to build your preference list. This is where you will see the real power of the Advanced Preference List Maintenance!

The bottom right frame lists the bills found in your search, and gives you the opportunity to add them to your list. Just like the List frame on the top of the page, the bill listing in this frame is split into two sections: 1. Introduced Bills on top. 2. Unintroduced bills below. Of course if your search did not include one or the other, then you will not see both sections. Also like the List frame on the top of the page, for every bill and bill draft listed there is a link to the detail information page for that bill.

There are two methods of adding bills from either section. The two sections operate independently, so you must add from both if you want to add both introduced bills and bill drafts.

Method 1. Use the "Add" column check boxes in the right-most column of the frame to mark the bills you want to add to the list. Then, click on click on the "Add Checked Introduced Bills" button (to add introduced bills)

or click on the "Add Checked Unintroduced Bills" button (to add bill drafts).

Because the introduced and unintroduced section operate independently, you will have to pay attention to which section you are working in to ensure you select the correct button. Once you click on the button you will see the bill count in the upper List frame increase to include the number of bills currently on the list.

Keep in mind that if you try to add a bill already on the active list it will not add it again. So, you may have selected four bills to add, but the bill count may not increase by four if one or more of the bills is already on the active list.

Method 2. Use the "Add All Introduced Bills" and/or "Add All Unintroduced Bills" buttons to add all bills from the corresponding section. Note that these buttons are not available if you used the All Bills Search (think about it).

You do NOT need to check bills (use the Add check box) to add bills with this method! These buttons are located at the bottom of their corresponding section of the frame.

Hopefully by now you are beginning to see the power of this Advanced Maintenance page. Here are a couple of scenarios that may give you some ideas.

Scenario One. You want to track all bills Sponsored by your Senator and Representative. First, create a list, "My Representatives". Then, come to this Advanced Maintenance page and make sure "My Representatives" is the active list. Using the Search frame (bottom left) check "Introduced Bills" then click on the "Sponsor" link to get the list of legislators. Select from the list; in this sample we selected representative Darrell Adams.

Now, click on the "Search" button to populate the bottom right, Selection List, frame with all of the bills where Darrell Adams is the Sponsor. Move over to that frame and click on the "Add All Introduced Bills" button. Now all of the bills that Representative Adams is sponsoring are on your list. Move back over to the Search frame, select a Senator, and repeat the add process. In about as much time as it has taken to read this you have your list built. You can come back later, as often as you like, and repeat the process to get any new bills added to your list; the process will not re-add bills already on the list.

Scenario Two. You are interested in Agriculture related bills. First, create a list, "Ag Bills". Then, come to this Advanced Maintenance page, use the Search frame (bottom left) check both "Introduced Bills" and "Drafts" (if you want to include drafts) then click on the "Subject" link to get the list of subjects. Select from the list; in this example we select the subject "Agriculture".

Now, click on the "Search" button to populate the bottom right, Selection List, frame with all of the bills where Agriculture is an assigned subject area. Now, since you only want some of the Agriculture related bills, Move over to that frame and scroll through the lists putting a check mark in the Add column of bills your are interested in. Often times the short title of the bill is descriptive enough to tell you what the bill is about. If you need more detail on the bill (you're not sure if you want it on the list or not) then click on the bill number link to go to the bill detail page. From the detail page use your browsers Back button to return. Once you've selected the bills for your list, click on the "Add Checked Introduced Bills" button. Now all of the bills that you selected are on your list. Repeat the add process for unintroduced bills if you want them on your list. You can come back later, as often as you like, and repeat the process to get any new bills added to your list; the process will not re-add bills already on the list.

Obviously there are many options for building your lists. Experiment a bit with the criteria in the Search frame, to gain a better understanding of the different options.

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Last Modified:
7/9/2008 12:28:14 PM