The “they” is the members of the 83rd Texas Legislature which is just around the corner. The Texas Legislature meets every other year starting on the first Tuesday in January and ending the session (known as “sine die”) after 140 days unless the governor calls for a special session.
The 83rd Legislative session will begin on January 8th 2013. If you want to follow the legislature while they are in session you are fortunate because the State of Texas provides many useful tools to monitor the legislature’s actions.
The first place to look would obviously be the TexasLegislature Online web site. The main page has links to each chamber, and the key parts of each chamber including the chambers’ leader (Speaker in the House, Lt. Gov. in the Senate), members, committees, calendars, news, and journals. There are also the requisite search tools for legislative items and some handy FAQs on the legislative process and how to find particular items. I find the strength of the web site to be the My TLO link. My TLO allows you to make a list of bills to be monitored, and every time you return to the site information on your bills is updated. You can also create alerts which will notify you when different actions are taken on matters before the legislature. The final really valuable element is the ability to save previous searches.
Another good place to go for legislative information is the Texas Legislative Reference Library. This library, located in the capital building, assists legislators, their staff, and member of the public with legislative research. Many of the resources provided on the Legislative Reference Library’s (LRL)web page link back to the Texas Legislature Online web site, but the LRL web site also provides some its own unique content. The LRL web site allows you to search for all members of the Texas legislature from its inception. There is also a handy table providing years and session numbers. The most helpful resource provided by the LRL is the Legislative Archive System (LRS). This tool allows searching legislation all the way back to the 16th Legislative session (that is 1879 in real years!) if you have a bill number or session law chapter number. The advanced search feature (use this if you don’t have specific information) allows searching back to the 18th Legislative session (1884).
Here are some other links of interest:
Guide to Texas Legislative Information. Web site produced by the Texas Legislative Council; this site is especially useful for outlining the legislative process in Texas.
Guide to Texas Legislative Information .PDF format produced by the Texas Legislative Council
Legislative Information Locator Table. Good resource for locating legislative information in table format