March 24, 2017

How Do I Learn about Bills & Laws?

    As a teen I would ask adults "How do I learn about the laws I need to follow?"  I did not get helpful answers.  In fact the answer I remember most often getting was, "You wouldn't understand them."  Gee thanks adults.

    Now I figure they gave me this answer because 1) I was still a minor, 2) I was a girl, 3) they did not understand the laws or how to learn them, or and most likely 4) a combination of the last three and other aspects that I am not yet aware of.  

    For a long time I have only had access to the information that the news gives me on bills that are coming out and often I don't see them linking to source material.  But in the last year or so I have finally figured out how to find that material.

Congress.gov 
    I am still learning more about how to use the website, but it has already been very useful.
If you want to learn more about bills and resolutions they are currently working on at the federal level select Legislation in the header menu across the top of the site.  There you can see the bills, resolutions, laws, among other things listed out.  You can search for what you are looking for if you know the code they are using for it or its title.

    You can also look up treaties.  This is how I was finally able to find out the status of Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled.

    In at least the bills and resolutions it will tell you who sponsored and who cosponsored them.  It will list out the actions that have been taken and what committees are looking at it.  There is even a tracker that shows the status of the item.
Introduced >Passed House >Passed Senate >To President >Became Law 

    I hope this site is as useful for you as it has been for me.  I find it easier to write my representatives when I know where the bill is in the process and I can read the bill myself.  As a bonus I can use my accessibility tools to read the bills.  It does take them some time to get the text of new bills up, but if you want to read it just keep checking back on it.

    There is a similar site for Texas state Legislation, Texas Legislature Online, but I am still in the process of learning how to efficiently navigate it.

 Stay active,
Lilian A. Brennan

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