Need more reality TV? Watch the Arizona Legislature - East Valley Tribune: Politics

Need more reality TV? Watch the Arizona Legislature

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Posted: Saturday, January 8, 2011 7:00 am

Watching the televised proceedings of the Arizona Legislature probably doesn’t match the excitement of most reality shows.

No one is asked to eat worms.

And there are no feats of strength.

But what might be called “Survivor — State Capitol” has some things going for it.

You might see legislators shoot themselves in the foot, at least verbally.

And lawmakers have to navigate political mine fields.

Best of all, the viewers are the ones who get the final say every two years on who to vote off the island.

You’ll have to work a bit to actually see live legislative action. A computer is necessary. And a high speed Internet connection is a big plus.

It starts at the main legislative web page,

The menu along the top includes separate links for the Senate and House of Representatives. And within those links is access to the proceedings.

That opens a page with a live feed — but a bunch of choices: Which hearing room do you want?

That requires a little further navigation of the main web page.

Under the “committee” link are the names of all the committees. And within those are the upcoming agendas of what bills will be heard on specified days.

Of course, all that presumes you know the issues you want to track.

The actual list of issues can be found under the “bills” button. There, you can search for a measure by bill number or, if you don’t know that, by keywords. Input “pollution” and find all bills with that word.

The text of bills and amendments also is available, both in HTML format — readable by most Web browsers — as well as Adobe PDF format. The latter version is easier to understand as it clearly shows which existing language in statutes is being struck.

Sponsors also are listed for each bill.

The first name listed is the person who is considered the main sponsor, though other lawmakers can sign on as “prime” sponsors and are designated that way with a “P” behind their name. Co-sponsors are marked with a “C.”

Want to add your voice to the issues?

Each lawmaker’s website has an e-mail link as well as phone number. And many of them actually monitor their incoming messages during the hearings and floor sessions, meaning an e-mailed query could end up provoking a discussion.

For less immediate responses. the legislative website lists individual phone numbers. But a better alternative to a long distance call for those outside the Phoenix area is using the state’s toll-free number of (800) 352-8404.

Don’t know who represents you? No problem: The site has a link which allows you to input your address and ZIP code and will respond with a map showing your legislative district.

In fact, you can actually provide input at a committee hearing without even bothering to show up at the Capitol. The system allows you to sign up to “speak” at a committee hearing on any bill on the agenda, entering comments that are made available to the committee chair and members during the actual meeting.

But to do that you need a log-in and password. And that can be obtained only by actually coming to the Capitol at least once and signing up at one of the computer kiosks in the halls of the House or Senate.

Another nice feature on the website is the ability to revisit hearings you actually missed, though it’s a bit harder to find.

Be aware, though, it can take a few days for legislative staffers to upload the full videos.

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