Monday, July 12, 2010

Explore the House Journal

I suspect that not many people, outside of legislators and staff, political junkies and policy wonks actually sit down to read the House Journal. For one thing, the hard copy volumes are not readily available except in libraries and legislative agencies and offices. For another, even if you know precisely what bill, and what day it was up on the Order of the Day for voting, the search for remarks is daunting.

Technology to the rescue.

Now that the House Journal is online in a searchable PDF format, it's so much easier to access. Go to the Capitol Website, click on Bill Status & Documents, scroll down to 2010 Regular Session Order of the Day, Referral Sheets, Action Sheets Journal, select Show House Daily Journal, type in a date and you're there.

For example, here's the link to the House Journal on 4/27/2010, the 58th day of the session, which was the long day of voting on most of the final reading bills.

Access aside, the House Journal is a record of what was said on the floor of the House Chamber. Members may also request that their written remarks on a particular bill be published in the Journal after the vote. Therefore, if you want to know who spoke up, on what bill, and read exactly what they said, word for word, it will be in the Journal. Not all of it is dry. There are jokes and barbs, and if you're lucky, you'll find a malapropian gem. Some members are verbose, others laconic.

For me, the true beauty of browsing through the Journal is knowing that the words that were said on the floor during the 2010 session are now documented for all time, for future generations to read and learn from. It is an important research and historical document. The House Journal is a tremendous resource, and the people in the House Chief Clerk's Office who work on it deserve our thanks.

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