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Researching Montana Legislative Sessions  

Last Updated: Dec 11, 2012 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates
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Researching MT Legislative Sessions

The home page for sessions of the Montana Legislature is:

Finding the Text of a Bill by Number or by Subject

Select the legislative session you are interested in.

Click on the link for the LAWS database and then on Look Up Bill Information. You'll reach a page with two main headings: “View Detailed Bill Information for a Specific...” and “Basic Searching for Bills by...”

Using “View Detailed Bill Information for a Specific...”

If you know the number of the bill you want to read, click on the first box after “Bill Type and Number” to access a pop-up menu of the types of bills. (HB, SJ, etc.) and select the correct bill type. You cannot type into this box - you must use the pop-up menu. Then type the actual number into the box on the right.

HB 10 is House Bill 10. Other abbreviations you should know are HR for House Resolution, HJ for House Joint Resolution, SB for Senate Bill, SR for Senate Resolution and SJ for Senate Joint Resolution.

If you know a bill draft number, type that (either with or without LC in front of it) into the box after “Bill Draft Number.” Finally, click on the “Find” box in this section of the page to find your bill. You’ll find the full text of the latest version, and a list of all the actions that have happened to that bill.

Using “Basic Searching for Bills by...”

There are also pop-up menus for searching bills by Subject: and by Primary Sponsor: Those two menus are accessed by clicking on the link to the left of each long box. You cannot type into these boxes - you must use the pop-up menus. The only way to put data into the box after the word “Subject:” is to begin by clicking on the link before that box and then select one of the subject headings from the pop-up list. The “Primary Sponsor:” box and its menu work the same way. Finally, click on the “Find” box in this section of the page.

You will find a list of all the bills that fit your search. Select a bill from this list and you can find the full text of the latest version, and a list of all the actions that have happened to that bill.

For most people, unless they know the number of a bill, the easiest way of finding it is to search by subject as explained above. Or you can search by the primary sponsor of a bill— the person responsible for introducing it. There are links on the Look Up Bill Information page following the two main headings to several other ways of searching.

For lobbyists, and others interested in the status of large numbers of different bills on different subjects, it’s possible to set up Preference Lists and see quickly the latest status of all the specific bills on a list. You choose the bills on a list; you maintain your own lists. You could have up to 25 different lists of bills. You can get email notification of the committee hearings for the bills on your lists, so that you can attend those hearings and comment. It’s possible to do advanced searching and combine bill subjects with bill requestors, bill drafters, and/or bill sponsors. You can combine all those with the committees that a bull is in, or with bill status. This is also all done with pop-up menus.

There is also “Search the Text of Bills using Keywords. ” This is generally not as useful as doing a subject search. There will be about 2000 different bills introduced this session, containing millions of words. And the bill you really want might not actually contain the word on which you search. Subject searching works better. Scroll through the list of subjects, and you will find that there are only a few subjects which work for any particular topic. Search those few subjects that interest you. And don’t forget—there IS a “Help” button!

Created by Christopher G. Mullin
Last revised 14 December 2010 by Donna McCrea

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Donna McCrea
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