Past session users of the preference list feature should read this help page too. Based on user feedback there have been many enhancements to the preference list area of LAWS.
The first step to using the LAWS Preference List service is getting an account setup. If you have not already setup an account, and created a user name and password you must do so. Go to the Preference List Information Page to learn how to setup your account.
With your Preference List account information (user name and password) in hand you are ready to use your account.
When you first click on the link you will get a logon box. Enter your User Name and Password then click OK. Your browser will display the main Preference List page. If you have not yet created any preference lists, the page will display only your name, and a link to Create a New Preference List.
You need to logon only once per session while you are using Preference List related pages. However, there is a timeout function that will require you to logon again if you do not actively use the system.
Creating a New Preference List
Creating a new Preference list requires only a few steps. From the main Preference Lists page click on the "Create a new Preference List" link. The Add Preference List page will appear. Enter a name for your preference list in the text box. Click on the "Insert" button. The page will update, and you should see the word: Success! Congratulations! You have now created a preference list. Click on the "Return to Preference Lists" link, then read below to learn how to add bills to your list.
Adding Bills to a Preference List
Once you have created a Preference List you can add bills to it at any time. There are two methods of adding bills to a preference list. Use the method that best meets your needs.
Method One: Adding Bills the simple way. Note: You must know the bill type and number, or bill draft number of a bill before you can add it to a Preference List using the simple method. If you want to use this method and you do not already know bill numbers, you can open a second web browser window, and search, using the LAWS system, to locate bill numbers. Keep one browser window open to your preference list so you can add to the list, and use the other browser window to find bills.
From the main Preference Lists page, click on the name of the list you want to add bills to. The Update Preference List page will display.
The upper part of this web page displays the current list name, and let's you manage the entire LIST. The three buttons in the area do the following. The "Update" button will change the name of the list (you must have changed the list name in the box avove the buttons for this to work). The "Delete" button will delete the entire list. The "Reset" button will clear the preference list name box so you can type a new name for the list; then be sure to click on the "Update" button.
Most users will have little need to use the upper part of this page often.
The lower portion of this page lets you to add bills to, and remove bills from, the current list. Before jumping in and adding bills, take a minute and read below to see how this operates:
Before you add bills to a list it will look like the image shown above with the label "No Records returned". Now, let's look at the different elements in this area of the page. First, there is a link to "Advanced Preference List Maintenance". That link takes you to the other (non-simple) way of adding bills to a list. That method is discussed in detail in a separate help document.
As stated above, you must know the bill type and number, or bill draft number to add a bill with the simple method. Introduced bills are identified in the Montana Legislature with both a bill type and bill number. The six types are: HB = House Bill; HJ = House Joint Resolution; HR = House Resolution; SB = Senate Bill; SJ = Senate Joint Resolution; SR = Senate Resolution. To add a bill, select the type from the drop-down list, then type the number in the box on the screen. This example would add House Bill 1 to the list.
The bill will be added to the list when you click on the "Add Single Bill" button. Once you do that, you will see the bill on the page as in the sample below:
Bill drafts (unintroduced legislation) are identified only by number (they all have the "LC" prefix in the Montana Legislature). You add a bill draft in a similar manner as a bill, but you must use the right-side number box and the "Add Single Draft" button.
Had you done this, your list would then look something like this:
You can continue adding bills or bill drafts to the list at any time. Note that if you add a bill draft, and it is introduced (gets a bill number) it will remain on your list and need not be added again. The LC number is associated with the bill throughout the legislative session.
You may have noticed the "Delete" links in the right-most cell of each bill row in your list. Click on a "Delete" link to remove that bill from the list.
Method Two:Now that you understand the simple method of adding and removing bills, you can delve into the less simple, but far more powerful way to manage your list(s); Advanced Preference List Maintenance. The Advanced method uses web browser "frames" technology. Most browsers support this technology, although some (especially older ones) may not.
To get to Advanced Maintenance, you need to select the "Advanced Preference List Maintenance" link from the Update Preference List page. You can change to other lists you have created from within the Advanced Maintenance page, so you need to select this link only one time.
The Advanced Preference List Maintenance web page is powerful, and to use it properly you must understand how it works. It's worth the effort to learn how to use it if you track more than a few bills in your list(s). There is a separate help document that thoroughly explains usage of Advanced Preference List Maintenance.
Viewing Bills on Your Preference List(s)
Once you have created a list and added bills to it you have done all the work, and you're now ready for the payoff!
From the main Preference Lists page, and on the Update Preference List page there are a links "Display Status" immediately to the right of the list name(s). Select the link, and the Bill Search Results page will display with the current status of all of the bills on your list. Introduced bills, if any, are on the top section of the page, and unintroduced bills, if any, are on the lower section. You can click on a bill or bill draft number to get the Detailed Bill Information.
Here's a neat tip: When viewing the Bill Search Results page (where your entire list of bills is displayed) you can use your browser's "bookmark" or "favorites" function to bookmark the page. Then, any time you want to view your list you can go directly to it from your bookmark!
Removing Bills from Your Preference List(s)
If you want to remove a bill(s) from a list you can quite easily. From the main Preference Lists page click on the name of the list you wish to remove bills from. The Update Preference List page will display. From the table that shows the Bills Currently in the List, click on the "Delete" link for the bill you want to remove. The Maintain Preference List page appears with the bill you selected for deletion displayed. If you are certain this is the bill you want to remove, click on the "Delete" button. You will receive confirmation of the delete: Success! Return to the Preference List to delete more bills if desired.