Up until about a year-and-a-half ago, I worked at a local TV station. The news director there was obsessed with the meteorologists saying the word “tacking” – as in “we’re tracking a storm system,” or “We tracking a streak of sunny days.” It actually got to the point of being ridiculous and every time I hear the word, I can’t help but repeat it over and over again in my head.
Tracking, tracking, tracking.
Well, the word took on a new meaning for me a few weeks ago. Michael Boldin took a well-deserved and very rare vacation, and left me at the helm of the TAC ship for about 10 days. In the process, I got to learn some of the behind the scenes things he does on a daily basis. One of those things was bill tracking.
During the course of a legislative session, we track literally hundreds of bills. Now, I have to be honest, other than the sheer number, it never seemed like a particularly daunting job.
Thankfully, Boldin has created a really good system. We have a big spreadsheet with all of the bills we’re tracking. Since its a spreadsheet, it can be sorted by state or bill subject for easy reference. But the most important column is “next date” where you’ll find the date of the next scheduled action – say a committee hearing or a vote. So while Boldin was gone, I had to check every bill with a potential action each day and see what was up. If something happened, I wrote up a report and you got to read about it on the blog. It’s wasn’t hard, but it was time consuming!
Now some state legislature sites do have pretty good notification systems that will send alerts when there is action on a bill. We use those when we can, but unfortunately, most of the websites aren’t that good.
Now this may seem pretty clumsy, but this kind of manual process is really the only way we can keep up with bills spread out across 50 states. All-in-all, I think we do a pretty good job of keeping up with everything! I’ll tell you what – after doing it for a few days, I sure have a better appreciation.
Anyway, I thought you might be interested in how we do all of that tracking!
As always, thanks for your support!