Following what’s happening in the state legislature can be a full-time job. For busy elected officials and city staff, staying on top of proposed legislation that could affect your hometown often becomes a lower priority while also working to keep up with pressing infrastructure, public safety and economic development issues.
Regardless of whether you’re a State House news junkie or a casual observer of state politics, it’s important for all local officials to watch and understand legislative activities to help provide input and feedback regarding the consequences of proposed bills on their residents and local businesses.
Knowing officials don’t have the time or resources to stay on top of legislative activity on a daily basis, the Municipal Association helps local leaders keep up with bills working their way through the legislative process each year.
“I encourage you to use these tools which are easily accessible by email and online, to stay informed about bills and activity at the State House each week,” said Clinton Mayor Randy Randall, chair of the Association’s legislative committee. “Every local elected official has a responsibility to understand the impact of proposed state level legislation on his residents and businesses. Using the tools the Municipal Association has available makes it easy to stay on top of a very fast moving and complex legislative process.”
Highlights of opportunities to stay informed about what happens at the State House
- Tracking pending and passed bills important to cities and towns – The Association has identified more than 700 bills this session that directly and indirectly impact cities and towns. All of these bills are entered in the Association’s tracking system accessed through the Association’s website. Association staff tracks the bills by keyword, bill number and monitoring level. Tracking system users can search for bills introduced in a specific timeframe and by topic. The tracking system also includes lists of legislators’ contact information and district number, committee assignments, and Association staff contacts for individual bills. Local officials can provide direct feedback to the Association’s advocacy staff using the “comment” button on each bill page.
- Daily tracking of committee and subcommittee activity – Staff updates the tracking system daily to reflect committee and subcommittee activity. Also, the state Office of Research and Statistics often requests information from cities and towns to identify the specific financial impact of proposed bills on local budgets. Staff posts these FIS reports in the tracking system.
- Weekly legislative report, From the Dome to Your Home – Every Friday before noon during the legislative session, the Association sends From the Dome to Your Home to all municipal officials via email. This weekly report gives a summary of major committee meetings or floor action during the previous week. It also lists all committee and subcommittee activity and includes a link to all bills introduced during the previous week. We encourage municipal staff to make copies of the report each week and pass them on to councilmembers without email addresses,” said Reba Campbell, Municipal Association deputy executive director.
- Detailed background on specific bills – Staff posts research and background information on high priority bills in the legislative section of the Association’s website. For major issues such as the Local Government Fund, the Association makes available substantial research and examples to illustrate the effect of the bill on local residents and businesses.
- Daily video and audio feed of the legislature – SCETV provides streaming video and audio of House and Senate proceedings daily (accessible from the Association’s tracking system and website). Additionally, ETV streams some high profile committee meetings including House Ways and Means and Senate Finance budget hearings.
- Twitter and Facebook – The Association uses social media (@MuniAssnSC on Twitter and CitiesMeanBusiness on Facebook) during the legislative session to post information about what’s happening in committee meetings and on the House and Senate floor. Follow and friend the Association’s social media pages as another way to stay on top of legislative happenings each week.