Friday, February 29, 2008

How to Use ALISON

I thought I'd give a quick lesson to my Alabama readers and fellow activists on how to use ALISON, which stands for Alabama Legislative Information System Online.

A reader submitted the following questions regarding the current crusade being waged by Sen. Roger Bedford and Sen. Hank Erwin to outlaw the plant salvia.

Brandon Wynn said...
What good could come from this? They claim it is dangerous but provide no evidence to back up that claim. What can be done to keep this from happening? The thought police won't be happy until every ounce of joy in this world is sucked away and out prisons are bursting at the seams.

Question: Do you know what the bill numbers are for Erwin and Bedford's bills? Also if the numbers are available for the Senate versions. One more question, since I can't seem to find anything about this, when would debate and/or a vote take place in the Senate on this matter?

I don't suppose there is much one can do to 'un-stupid' certain members of our legislature and unfortunately there is nothing on ALISON about that either. But here is what folks interested in this or any other legislative issue can do when they want to know more about a bill and when they want to get involved in the effort to pass or kill a bill.

The first thing you will need to do is famaliarize yourself with ALISON. The links on the lefthand side of the page are all you need to find whatever information you are looking for.

So, you want to know about a specific bill? The first thing you will need is a bill number. If you do not have a bill number click "Bills" on the left menu and then click "Search". Next click "By Keywords" and type in relavent words having to do with the bill. Example: If you are interested in the salvia bill type 'salvia' into the search box. If you are interested in the medical marijuana bill type'medical marijuana' in the search box...etc...etc.. Note the bill number. You'll need it.

Now, you have a bill number and you want to know the latest on your bill of interest. Click the 'status' link and then enter the bill number. Always enter the bill number without spaces, like this SB15 and not SB 15. If your bill is in the house then the first letters will be HB. That will bring up the latest information on your bill such as what committee it is in, what stage it is at in committee readings and so forth.

From the status link you should know what committe your bill has been assigned to. Say you want to attend a committee hearing on this bill and speak for or against it. To find out when your committee is meeting click the "Committee Meetings" link and then choose either House or Senate. All currently scheduled meetings will come up. If your committee isn't listed I recommend you check back every day M-F for updates.

If your bill is scheduled for a committee meeting it may also have a public hearing scheduled. That should be noted in (). A public hearing is just that. People who support and those who oppose get a chance to present their case before the committee before a vote is taken on whether to pass it out of committee and onto the full house or senate floor for a debate. If there is no public hearing scheduled for your bill and you would like one then contact the chair of the committee your bill is in and request one.

To find out who is on any committee in the House GO HERE.

For the Senate Committee's GO HERE.

Both of those links will give you information about who is assigned to the committee and who is Chair and Vice Chair.

If you need to know who your representative is GO HERE

If you need to know who your Senator is GO HERE

You will need to call the members of the committee and speak with them about your bill. Also call your representative and senator and ask them to vote Yes/No on this bill when it comes to the house floor.

It is also a very good idea to pay them a visit in person. It shows them that you care enough to spend time and money traveling to Montgomery to have your voice heard. If you cannot make it down to Montgomery then you can always pay a visit to your representative or senator when they are in their home districts on the weekends. It is always best to call ahead and schedule time. They are very busy people.

When you visit have information that you can leave with them on hand.Always be prepared to back up what you say with facts. I know, I know the legislature and senate seem skirt this important part every session and on nearly every bill...but we should hold ourselves to a higher standard.

Never lie to them even if they do it to you.
Never get angry.
Always thank them for their time.

Get as many people as humanly possible to join you in your efforts.

If you have any questions about this or see something I missed please post it in the comments.


Brandon Wynn said...

Thank you for your thorough and timely response. Loretta, thank you for running for governor, you had and still have my support.

Loretta Nall said...

Thank you Brandon. I truly appreciate your support. I'll be attending the Letter Writers' dinner in about two weeks there in Anniston. Please tap me on the shoulder at some point that night so that we can introduce ourselves properly.

Don said...

Loretta, ALISON, to those not familiar with it is diffucult to navigate through, so this is a valuable learning tool you've posted. However, perhaps your link for Senate Committees should be maybe instead of the one you provided.

Loretta Nall said...

Thanks for catching that link error Don. I have changed it to the proper link.