“If you like laws and sausages, you should never watch either one being made.” That is a quote too often used and attributed to Otto von Bismarck: In other words, the legislative process, though messy and often times unappetizing to some, can produce palatable results for all.
Regardless of which political flavor you prefer, the one thing most Alabamians have in common – a distrust for government. While much of it is warranted, all of it is not. Much of that distrust is our own doing because we don’t research the issues or understand the Legislative process, much less follow it. But all that is about to change. Now is the perfect opportunity to learn more about our government and experience the process for yourself.
The Alabama Legislature has created a new website which was scheduled to launch Jan. 3 for use in the Legislative Session which begins on Jan. 11, 2022. You can visit it at www.legislature.state.al.us.
Live stream sessions of the Alabama Senate, House of Representatives and committee meetings will be available. Allowing you to watch the sausages – I mean the laws – as they are being made. The site will also make available information about the state’s Legislative Services Agency and the Examiners of Public Accounts. Accompanying those features will be user-friendly navigation tools to access the status of bills, biographical information on members of the Legislature, live committee meetings, appointments and easy access to calendars to all committee meetings, etc.
While the system is untested, it will be a vast improvement over the previous system which has not been updated in five years. Technology has changed substantially, so why not give more accessibility to government using that technology?
Hats off to Senate Secretary Pat Harris who spearheaded the effort to establish the new site. The new site is well worth the time and effort if people will use it. No doubt lobbyists, politicians and businesspeople will use it, but the beauty of it is – it gives every citizen an opportunity to participate in our government and to view the process for themselves. It is not only an informational tool, but an educational opportunity for all citizens to take an active role in our government.
So, when it comes to accessibility of our government, there is a great deal less to complain about in Montgomery, so visit www.legislature.state.al.us often and learn a lot. Be a part of our government, contact your legislators about issues of concern to you and enjoy the meal, I mean the process.
Beth Chapman is Alabama’s former State Auditor and 51st Secretary of State. Her statewide column, Around the Capitol can be read in newspapers and blogs across the state. She now owns and operates Beth Chapman & Associates, LLC. She can be reached at Beth@bethchapman.com.