As a recent December graduate from the University of Richmond my last two months have been packed with a wide-variety of new experiences. I have graduated, gotten engaged, and started a new job. I have never felt more like a grown up then I do now (yikes..it is kinda scary!).In my new job, I am a lobbyist and I do a wide variety of tasks such as meeting with clients, doing bill reports, meeting with elected officials and what I do the most and dread the most…bill tracking.
Bill tracking is the most complicated feature of Virginia politics I have discovered so far.
The firm I work for has a variety of clients from Amazon and Shell to Virginia Pet Stores with so many clients comes with over 500 bills….
This number is a large amount a bills.
It is a large task tracking this amount of bills, as a daily undertaking.
Most lobbyists including me, use the Lobbyist in a Box tool from the Legislative Information System. The system is vital to knowing information of Virginia’s House and Senate Bills. The System is free, but incredibly difficult to use. It lets you list you bills by easily typing the bill number under your clients tab. Once the bill is under the clients its not connected the committee. It just lets the committee. In a different platform you have to search committees. The system rarely alerts you if your bill is on a docket and the program and counter-productive.
Most of its difficulty is due to the lack of posting of House and Senate agendas. This makes it impossible to know when a bill will come up. House and Senate committee and subcommittee have no certain time when their daily or weekly agendas are posted..or in many cases never posted. In some lucky cases bills are posted the day before but that can be anywhere from 6 am to after 10pm.
How can I know when clients bills are up?
The system has little accountability. Citizens can’t know if the bill that is vital to them may or may not be on the floor or in subcommittee that day. This is unfair to the people. We should always know every detail of a bill that could and will impact our lives.
How can politics be accessible to all, if much of the knowledge of politics is only available to a small group of people?
…..the people in power (the legislatures) have all the knowledge
Being a lobbyist has changed my perspective on the world of politics here in Virginia.
Screenshot of Lobbyist in a Box: Amber Ange Spots Fain PLC lis.virginia.gov/ January 31, 2020