By Lance Chilton
Welcome back to this discussion of nmlegis.gov, our Legislature’s fine website. Today’s tutorial will discuss the Legislator tab on the main page, and where clicking on it may lead.
You can do many things from this tab, but let’s start at the beginning.Many of you reading this newsletter will know who your state representative and state senator are. But for those of you who don’t, here’s a brief tutorial – a video on the subject is available if you click on “Quick Links” on the top of the nmlegis.gov page and then “Finding Your Legislators”.
Under “Find My Legislator,” click on Search by Your Address and then enter your address – street, town/city on either the House of Representatives or the Senate side (they’re linked, so you can go quickly from one to the other, entering your address only once.) You’ll be given a name and a photo; click on either and you’ll get to that legislator’s web page. If you already know your legislator, you can find her/his photo and name, arranged alphabetically, after clicking “Search by Name or District.”
Another option on the main “Find My Legislator” page is to look up previous legislators, going all the way back to 1996. For example, I looked up a favorite of mine, former Albuquerque representative Rick Miera. I could find his dates of service, and any bills he sponsored throughout his career.
So now suppose you’ve found your state representative (or senator). Having clicked on his/her photo or name, you get to that person’s home page. There you’ll find their office address and phone number in the Capitol, their legislative email address, and in many cases, their home address, phone number and email.
You’ll find what bills that person has sponsored over however many years and sessions you want. This is a good way of finding out what interests or specialties each legislator has. You’ll be able to tell which bills, memorials and resolutions sponsored by the legislator have passed or failed (PCH after a bill means passed and “chaptered,” meaning added to law, “PSGN,” meaning that a resolution or memorial has been passed and signed by the leadership of the chamber, or “API,” action postponed indefinitely = DEAD). You can click on any of those bills and find out their text, the actions taken, and a summary called a fiscal impact report (FIR), but we’ll talk more about this on the next segment of this tutorial.
On the legislator’s web page, you’ll also find out what session and interim committees the legislator is assigned to, usually again conforming to their interests. Interim committees have both regular members and advisory members, the latter of which sometimes attend those meetings between sessions of the Legislature.
Finally, I should add a brief caveat: though the site is excellent, it is not entirely up-to-date at the time I write. Changes since the November election for State House of Representatives have not yet been entered. The changes include a change in leadership in the House, since Speaker Brian Egolf retired, probably to be replaced by Albuquerque Rep. Javier Martinez. The Speaker may change or add to committee assignments, and redistricting is not yet reflected in the maps. So come back soon to this page; in my past experience, it is updated quickly before or at the beginning of a session. And the State Senate page is up to date, since members were not up for election in November.
It’s an excellent website, intuitive and much easier to use than this lengthy tutorial would tell you. Next time, on to legislation.