Tips for Following the 2021 Arkansas Legislative Session
Arkansas lawmakers head to the state capitol Monday, Jan. 11 for the start of the 2021 legislative session. The 93rd General Session begins at a time when the infection rate for COVID-19 remains high in Arkansas and social distancing requirements will reduce the number of people who can observe lawmakers in person.
Below are some tips for following the 2021 Arkansas Legislative Session:
1) Find your lawmaker in the House and Senate. Legislators are reachable through phone calls, texts and emails. Ask them about their communication preferences so you can easily contact them about an issue or proposed law.
2) Watch committee hearings and sessions through ARCAN. Even before the pandemic, the House and Senate moved toward streaming their meetings online for easy state-wide access.
3) Follow your legislator on social media. More legislators are on Facebook or Twitter. Popular hashtags for legislators are #ARleg and #ARpx.
4) Follow the Public Policy Center on Facebook and Twitter. We will post news and updates about proposed constitutional amendments legislators file in the session. We use the #ARballot hashtag for posts about ballot issues.
5) Track the bills lawmakers file. You can find bills by the date they were filed, by specific terms, by legislator, and by number. Anyone can set up a personal bill tracking account to receive email updates about specific legislation.
6) Check the calendar. Lawmakers are being more intentional this session to notify the public about whether a bill on an agenda will actually be heard that day. Committee agendas are posted at least 18 hours before the meeting. There are 10 House committees and nine Senate committees.
7) Sit in the gallery or testify on a bill. The public can still access the galleries of the House and Senate to watch the sessions. Mask wearing and temperature checks will be required. People testifying at the capitol on bills will wait in a "public comment holding room" until it's their time to testify. It's unclear whether people who want to testify on a bill can do so by video conferencing.