The 63rd session of the Montana legislature convenes in Helena on Monday, January 7, at noon. There are a variety of ways in which the public can monitor and participate in legislative proceedings.
Watch or Listen
Gavel-to-gavel coverage of House and Senate floor sessions and selected committee hearings will be broadcast on cable television stations throughout the state through TVMT, a statewide government broadcasting service provided by the Montana Legislative Services Division through a contract with Helena Civic Television.
To find out if TVMT programming is available in your area:
In addition, floor sessions and committee hearings will be video and audio streamed through the legislative branch website at www.leg.mt.gov.
Floor sessions generally begin at 1 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 8 a.m. most Saturdays, while committee hearings usually begin at 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. weekdays.
Contact Your Legislator
Montana legislators are eager to hear from constituents about their positions on pending legislation. There are several ways you can contact legislators during session to express your views.
Beginning Jan. 7, you can leave messages for legislators using an online form available at www.leg.mt.gov/message.
You can also call the Legislative Information Desk at 406-444-4800. An operator will take your message, which will then be delivered to the legislators. When leaving a message, be prepared to provide the operator with:
You may leave messages for as many as five legislators or one legislative committee at a time. The service is available while the Legislature is in session Mondays through Fridays from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to adjournment.
The Legislative Information Desk does not accept anonymous messages or blanket messages to all legislators.
Additionally, you can write to legislators. Letters should be addressed as follows:
If you aren't sure who your legislators are, contact your local elections office or visit the legislative website at www.leg.mt.gov and click on the "Find a Legislator" link. The "Find a Legislator" page also includes additional details about contacting legislators
Track Bills and Find General Legislative Information
The legislative process relies on the participation of informed citizens. The Legislative Automated Workflow System, or LAWS, is a free online service that provides legislative information before, during, and after sessions. With it, you can find:
You can find a link to the LAWS website for the 2013 session on the legislative website at www.leg.mt.gov.
The website also contains a vast amount of other information regarding the legislature and the legislative process. You can also follow legislative activities through Facebook or Twitter. For details, visit the legislative website at www.leg.mt.gov.
Testify at Hearings
One of the most important opportunities to become involved in the debate over a bill is when it's the subject of a hearing before a legislative committee. You can communicate personally with legislators at any time about any bill, but the committee hearing is the occasion when anyone may publicly approve, oppose, or suggest changes to a bill.
You can testify on any bill that concerns you. Each committee of the House and Senate is assigned to a specific meeting room in the Capitol. By rule, the time and place of committee hearings are scheduled at least three days in advance. Hearing schedules can be found as noted above through LAWS, or you can call the Legislative Information Desk at (406) 444-4800.
Occasionally, if a hearing is expected to attract a large crowd, it may be moved to a larger room. Such changes are noted on hearing schedules and notices are placed outside the regular meeting rooms. Additionally, changes are posted on the legislative branch website as well as on the legislative Facebook page and Twitter account.
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