Primer For Would Be (Texan) Political Junkies

On Wednesday February 9, 2011, the Texas Senate State Affairs Committee held a public hearing on the Ultrasound Bill, Senate Bill 16, introduced by Senator Dan Patrick, a Republican from the Houston area. I drove to Austin to testify along with many other men and women, in spite of the predictions of temperatures below freezing and rain, sleet and snow. (Fortunately, the winds were blowing 30-40 mph. They dried the roads by midmorning.)

Even though I was there all day, it was often difficult to hear the Senators and other speakers because of all the activity in the room as well as the acoustics. So, after I got home, I watched the archived video of the two parts of the hearing, available online.

It occurred to me that I should tell you how to follow legislation and the lawmakers as they go through the 120 day Regular Session of the 82nd Texas Legislature. That way, you can watch the video(s) yourself. And, if you're willing to play around with the computer, you, too, can become a political junkie - or just someone who is better informed.

The links to live-streaming and archived State House and Senate sessions, Committee hearings and even press conferences are available at the Legislature's website, "Texas Legislature Online," or TLO . Look for the area ti tled "Legislative Activity" at the upper right side of the page. The videos and recordings are posted or filed by Senate, House, then Committee and Date. You will need the free Real Player available here. The program will allow you to zoom in and skip ahead if you have a good connection. You can even send links of the videos to others. Watch Dr. Mikael Love, an Obstetrician from Austin, testify in favor of SB 16 at 9:20 (nine minutes and 20 seconds in) here.

"Texas Legislature Online" is a wonderful resource for those of us who are involved and interested in what our State lawmakers are doing. At the TLO website, you can search for bills that have been introduced by word, phrase, and (if you know it) by the bill number at the homepage. You can also find your State Representative and State Senator's official homepage on that site. From the Legislator's home page , you can find links to all the Committees he or she belongs to and all the bills he or she authored, sponsored, or co-authored and -sponsored.

After you find your bill, you can see the actual text, the current status of the bill, read the names of the people who testified for and against in Committee, and even see results of the major votes. There are also links to "Companions." These are bills that concern the same or nearly the same topic.



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