Montana Legislative Branch - May 2007 Special Session Information Resources
MONTANA LEGISLATIVE INFORMATION AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC
May 2007 SPECIAL SESSION OF THE 60TH LEGISLATURE
First implemented for the 1999 legislative session, the Montana Legislative Branch maintains an information system named LAWS (Legislative Automated Workflow System) which includes an Internet web browser application for accessing legislative session information. Internet users can access the Main Session page for the most current session by using the following URL: /session.htm. Other sessions can be accessed using the links at the left of the resulting page.
Previous LAWS users will notice the continuation of many features from prior sessions, including the availability of bill text in PDF format, improved functionality within the preference list feature, and the option to receive pertinent legislative information via e-mail by subscribing to the Legislative Branch's free Announcement Messaging Service from the LAWS Webmaster. All of these features are described in more detail below to assist less frequent LAWS users.
LAWS is much more than just an Internet web browser application. LAWS encompasses an Oracle database system (for recording bill status information) integrated with a WordPerfect perfectscript macro-driven system (used for bill drafting and amendment processing.) Finally, there is an Internet umbrella in the form of an online web browser application that provides users with access to both bill status and bill text.
Internet users are able to access online bill status information, committee hearing information, agendas, etc., as well as the text of introduced bills, amended bills, enrolled bills, and edited bill drafts.
Advanced search features to help identify bills and bill drafts of interest are also available for Internet users. For example, users are able to generate lists of bills and bill drafts, based on specific criteria selected by the user.This criteria can include one or more of the following: requester of a bill draft, primary sponsor of a bill, drafter of a bill, subject(s) assigned to a bill, current status of a bill, and other criteria.
One of the more popular features of the Internet application is the "preference list" feature. This feature is useful for Internet users who wish to track specific legislation. The user can create a list of bills, which is saved in a password-protected file, allowing the user to access and modify the list at any time. Once the user has created a bill list, the user can click on a "Display Status" button to generate an online report listing the latest status of each bill in the list, along with the bill's short title and primary sponsor or requester.
This session will again include the capability for a preference list user to create an account online instantly, by supplying a user-id and password of their choice.
Not only can the user create a preference list account online, but the user can build their list of bills with the help of search engines that display bills by subject, primary sponsor, requester, and requesting agency. All bills related to a specific subject, for example, can be added to a userís preference list with a single keystroke.
Previous users of this option should take note: Preference list accounts created for previous sessions are only usable for the session for which they were created. For 2007, you must recreate your preference list account and associated list(s), then add the 2007 session bills to your list(s). This is because bill numbers are reused from session to session. So, for example, HB 1 for 2005 will not be the same bill for 2007, even though it has the same bill number.
Again this session, bill text will be available in PDF format. The availability of bill text in this format allows a bill to be printed in the same exact page and line number format as the master copy of the bill. Using the PDF bill version, the user can accurately apply amendment report descriptions (which locate changes to a bill using page and line numbers). Users can still find the link Authorized print version w/line numbers (PDF format) located in the footer of each bills' html text page. Additionally, beginning with the 2007 session, a PDF link will also appear near the top of the Detailed Bill Information page for each bill or bill draft, once the text is available.
Bill text of all bill versions continue to be available on the LAWS application in WordPerfect 5.1 format, for user download. Also, the html format for the latest version of each bill will continue to be maintained. This allows the user to view the current text of each bill online over the Internet.
The Legislative Announcement Message System provides LAWS users with another information source. By subscribing to the system again this session, the user will receive pertinent legislative-related e-mails, typically once a week. To obtain more details about this option, and to subscribe to this free service, go to signup.asp.
Check the calendar below for the projected key dates related to information availability:
NOTE: This calendar may change as the May 2007 Special session gets closer and dates become firm.
TELEPHONE NUMBERS -- AVAILABLE ALL THE TIME
GENERAL ASSISTANCE VOICE NUMBERS
Legislative Services Division 1-406-444-3064 (How to get/use services offered by the Legislative Services Division)
TELEPHONE NUMBERS -- AVAILABLE TEMPORARILY
These numbers are available for about a 4-6 month period around the time of Montana's regular legislative session.
LEGISLATIVE INFORMATION OFFICE - LEGISLATIVE MESSAGES
Legislative Information Office 444-4800 Local calls free; else
Legislative Messages by phone 1-406-444-4800 telephone line charges apply
(These services are available beginning 01/03/2007)
House of Representatives 1-406-444-4825. Senate 1-406-444-4875.
LEGISLATIVE INFORMATION FROM THE INTERNET
Internet access to 2007 session-related information is available now! The Montana Legislature Current Session home page can be found at: /laws.htm.
It can also be reached by linking from the LEGISLATIVE BRANCH home page, , which is a permanent site and is available year-around. Once you have linked to one or more of the session information sites, simply bookmark the address(es) for future use.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
What's new in the legislative information area since last session?
In a word -- LOTS! Based on your feedback during and after the 2005 session, we've made subtle but significant changes to LAWS for the 2007 session. See a list of the more significant changes to LAWS here.
Advanced features available again this legislative session.
User-maintained "preference list" feature and account creation available. The Internet interface mentioned above provides a special "preference list" feature. A user can build and maintain a file of bill numbers and/or bill draft numbers that are of specific interest. Once the user saves the list, the user can then "click a button" and the current status of all the bills in their list are displayed.
This feature includes the capability for the user to create an account online instantly, by supplying a user-id and password of your choice.
Once the account is created the user can build the list(s) of bills with the help of search engines that display bills by subject, primary sponsor, requester, and requesting agency. All bills related to a specific subject, for example, can now be added to a userís preference list with a single mouse click. The link used to establish a "preference list" account can be accessed from URL: http://laws.leg.mt.gov/laws0507/law0203w$.startup.
Bill text available in PDF format.
The availability of bill text in PDF format allows a bill to be printed, on any printer, with the same exact page and line number format as the master copy of the bill. The user can now accurately apply amendment report descriptions (which locate changes to a bill using page and line numbers) to this PDF version of a bill. Once a specific bill's text is available on the internet, simply scroll to the bottom of the bill and click the link "Authorized print version w/line numbers (PDF format)".
LAWS Announcement Message System (Newsletter).
This is another great LAWS information source. By subscribing to this free service, the user will receive pertinent legislative-related emails, typically once a week. To obtain more details about this option go to signup.asp.
Information available from the Data Distribution Office (Room 74 of the Capitol basement).
FREE REPORTS AND PUBLICATIONS:
Daily Agenda (House and Senate calendar of bills scheduled for 2nd and 3rd reading)
Hearing Calendar (List of bills scheduled for hearing on the current and the following legislative day)
BILLS, REPORTS AND PUBLICATIONS AVAILABLE AT A MINIMAL CHARGE:
Several other reports, which are produced on a non-daily basis and are available at a minimal charge, include:
Index to Introduced Bills
Bill Draft Request List by Subject
Bill Draft Request List by Requestor
Bill Draft Request List by Requesting Agency
Code Sections Affected List
You can also subscribe to the legislative proceedings for the 2007 session. There are a variety of options available that can be picked up daily at the Data Distribution Office, Room 74, State Capitol.
The prices for proceedings are as follows:
BILLS ONLY: PICKED-UP - $920 (This will include copies of all bills, fiscal notes, and amendments but none of the following reports. Reports can be subscribed to seperately or in combinations.)