Legislation watch
Mackinac Center for Public Policy
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Michigan Votes Help Menu

SEARCHING

  1. How do I search for a bill by its number or by a keyword?
  2. How do I find out how a particular legislator voted on a bill?
  3. How do I get the entire legislative voting history for a particular legislator?
  4. Can I combine date range, topic, keywords and legislator in a search?
  5. How can I use exact-phrase and multiple word keyword searches, and what database do keyword searches actually look in?
  6. How can I get the entire legislative voting history for a bill?
  7. What is the significance of the entire legislative history displayed for each bill?
  8. Why are certain words removed from my keyword searches?

LEGISLATORS

  1. How do I contact a legislator?
  2. Who are my legislators?
  3. How do I find out how the vote on a bill was split along party lines?

COMMENTS, NOTICES, AND ACCOUNTS

  1. Why would I create an account and how do I create one?
  2. How do I modify my account?
  3. How do I comment on a bill or a particular vote and read comments from others?
  4. How do I respond to someone else's comment?
  5. Can I leave an anonymous comment?
  6. What if I forget my password or username?
  7. How can I receive automatic e-mail notices when action is taken on particular bills or on the types of bills I'm interested in?

DEFINITIONS

  1. Glossary of Legislative Terms
  2. Terms used on this site

SEARCHING

How do I search for a bill by its number or by a keyword?

Underneath "Search bills and resolutions," enter either the bill number, or a keyword that may appear in its Michigan Votes descriptions. For bill numbers, it is not necessary to specify "HB" or "SB" – just enter the number.
Note: Do not enter BOTH a bill number AND a keyword at the same time - use separate searches for each.
For more on keyword searches see
How can I use exact-phrase and multiple word keyword searches...

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How do I find out how a particular legislator voted on a bill?

Underneath "Search Senate voting record (or House)," select either a representative or a senator, then enter either the bill number, or a keyword that may appear in its Michigan Votes descriptions. For bill numbers, it is not necessary to specify "HB" or "SB" – just enter the number.
Note: Do not enter BOTH a representative AND a senator; or BOTH a bill number AND a keyword at the same time. Use separate searches with just one of each.
For more on keyword searches see
How can I use exact-phrase and multiple word keyword searches...

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How do I get the entire legislative voting history for a particular legislator?

Underneath "Search Senate voting record (or House)," select either a representative or a senator, and leave the category field set on “All categories” and the keyword field blank. The search result will show the three most recent roll call votes taken, the three most recent bills sponsored, and three most recent amendments offered (if any). For the complete record in any one of these, select “view complete list” after each section.(In the initial search, do not enter BOTH a representative AND a senator. Use separate searches for each.)

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Can I combine date range, topic, keywords and legislator in a search?

Yes. Just go to the Advanced searches page (under the Advanced searches menu) and enter your criteria under Search bills. To narrow the result to a particular legislator’s votes, just drop down the page to Search Senate votes or Search House votes and do the same, after selecting a legislator.

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How can I use exact-phrase and multiple word keyword searches, and what database do keyword searches actually look in?

Multiple-word keyword searches find bills in which ALL of the words appear in the bill description, or an amendment description. If the keyword or words don’t appear in the bill description shown on the "Search Results" page, this means they are in an amendment. Scroll down the amendments if displayed, or select "History, Amendments & Comments" to display them (if there are any).
To search for an exact phrase, place quotes around the phrase. The search engine ignores punctuation, and just looks for that particular sequence of words.
To search for all bills in which ANY ONE of the words appear, place OR between each word.
If your keyword search does not turn up a bill you are looking for, or turns up too many bills, try another keyword or words. Be creative: Try adding or removing words, or choose different words. Also try placing quotes around your selection of words, even if they are not an exact phrase. Remember, this feature only searches for keywords that appear in the plain-language Michigan Votes descriptions – not necessarily in the text of the bill or amendment itself.
The search engine is confused by extremely common words such as "a," "the," "and," etc. It can also be confused by prepositions such as "of," "to," etc. Many of these words are automatically removed from your search. However, if you get an error message, remove these types of words and try again.

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How can I get the entire legislative voting history for a bill?

In the results for a keyword or legislative category search, only the introduction and final passage actions for each bill are displayed. Select [History, Amendments & Comments], found next to the bill number, to display all actions on a bill. This includes all amendments, substitutes, votes on passage, concurrence, conference committee action, the governor's approval or veto, and so on.

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What is the significance of the entire legislative history displayed for each bill?

Often bills change dramatically from their initial introduction. The bill can be amended many times, and an entirely new bill can even be substituted for the original. How your legislator votes on amendments can dramatically affect the bill and can be as important as the vote on final passage.

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Why are certain words removed from my keyword searches?

In order to speed searches, extremely common words (such as "a," "the," "and," prepositions, etc.) are automatically removed from your search. If you wish to search for a phrase containing these words, put quotation marks around the entire phrase.

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LEGISLATORS

How do I contact a legislator?

Michigan Votes offers many opportunities at different places for you to contact your or any other legislator.

One way is to register your legislators' names as the default legislators. To do so, select "Legislators" on the menu bar at the top of any page and choose "Enter Your Legislators."
Now, enter and save the names of the legislators you would like to have registered as your default legislators. You can also set legislators other than your own as default legislators following the procedure described above.

To contact a legislator from the home page, first register the legislator's name as the default legislator following the procedure described above. Then select "Legislators" from the top menu bar and choose "Contact your Legislators." The names you registered will appear as defaults on the screen. Along with each legislator's photo will be a mailing address, phone number, and an e-mail link.
To e-mail the legislator, click on the highlighted e-mail link. This will open an e-mail composition page, allowing you to enter information about yourself and the comments you wish to send. Once you've entered information in each field provided, click send. Your comments will then be sent to the legislature. Please note that this page also provide the e-mail address for the legislator if you want to e-mail him or her directly at a later time.

You can also contact legislators from the [Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"] page which can be selected anytime you are viewing a vote on a bill. All legislators names are show (blue and underlined) in the "supported," "opposed," or "did not vote" sections. Simply click on a legislator's name to send a pre-addressed e-mail message. You must include your name and e-mail address.

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Who are my legislators?

To find the names of your legislators select "Legislators" from the top menu bar and choose "Find Your Legislator." Follow the provided links to an external web site where you can locate your legislators.

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How do I find out how the vote on a bill was split along party lines?

First, search for and display the bill. All votes on the bill will be listed. You will need to read the vote descriptions to determine which vote you are interested in. Then, follow the link titled [Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"]. The next screen displays the percentages of Democrats and Republicans who supported or opposed the vote. You can also register how you would have voted and see how other citizens would have voted as well.

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COMMENTS, NOTICES, AND ACCOUNTS

Why would I create an account and how do I create one?

Once you create an account, your username will automatically appear with any comments you register on the site. Creating an account also allows you to subscribe to automatic e-mail notification of action on particular topics. It also permits you to "cast your vote" on legislative actions from the [Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"] page.

To create an account, go to "Account" from the menu bar at the top of each page. Select "Create an account" and provide the requested information. You will only have to enter this information once. Make sure you remember your username and password.
In subsequent visits to the site, go to "Account" and then "Log On" to make use of your account. Note that you can choose whether or not to have your e-mail address appear with your username.

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How do I modify my account?

Once you have created an account, you can modify it by logging on and selecting "Account" from the top menu bar. Choose "Update account information" and then make the changes you desire. Select "Save" when finished.

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How do I comment on a bill or a particular vote and read comments from others?

First, search for and display the bill. Note that you can comment on the entire bill history, or comment specifically on a particular vote. To comment on the entire bill history, select [History, Amendments & Comments] next to the bill number. Then select the link [New Comments] at the bottom of the page. Enter your comment. When you select "save" your comment will be posted immediately. Please be aware of the terms of use which define your responsibilities in posting comments. If have not created an account and logged on, your comment will be listed under the username "Anonymous Citizen." If do not want to appear as an anonymous citizen, create an account and/or log on to the site before you enter your comments. You may choose whether or not your e-mail address appears with your comments

To read comments, simply follow the procedure above to get to the page where the comments are listed at the bottom. Click on the comment you wish to read.

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How do I respond to someone else's comment?

Follow the procedure above to get to the page where the comments are listed at the bottom. Click on the comment you want to respond to. Then click on [Reply] and post your response.

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Can I leave an anonymous comment?

You can leave an anonymous comment by simply going to the comment area of a page, entering your comment, and selecting "Post." You do not need to create an account or log in. The author of your comment will be listed as "Anonymous Citizen." No information is recorded about the identity of those who post anonymous comments.

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What if I forget my password or username?

We can e-mail your username and a new password to you.

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How can I receive automatic e-mail notices when action is taken on particular bills or on the types of bills I'm interested in?

At the bottom of each screen, on the far left-hand side is a link titled [Bill watch list]. This page will allow you to specify the types of bills you'd like to be notified about. Choose "Update" once you've selected your topics. A notice will be sent to your e-mail address following each legislative session day showing all action on bills or categories you selected.

To change your topics, re-enter the [Bill watch list] page. The topics chosen previously will be checked. Make any changes you want, then click "Update." Or, to cease all notifications to your e-mail address, remove all check-marks and click "Update."

You may choose to receive notices of ALL legislative actions, instead of just actions in certain categories. If you choose the ALL category on the watchlist (under the "Account" tab), this will override any other category choices. Following legislative session days you will receive one or two notices with descriptions of every action taken in the Michigan House or Senate. For those who want to receive notices from several categories, this option eliminates duplications, at the price of also receiving descriptions of actions which may not be of interest. Each bill is included in several categories, so if, for example, you choose to receive notices on TAXATION and EDUCATION, you get duplicate e-mails every time an education tax bill is introduced or acted upon. ALL tells the site to ignore the categories, and just send each and every description once.

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DEFINITIONS

Glossary of Legislative Terms

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Terms used on this site

Amendment
A proposed change, addition, or deletion to a bill.
HB
House Bill
HRC
House Roll Call. This is a recorded vote number for a bill or an amendment.
SB
Senate Bill
Session
The two-year "work period" for the legislature.
SRC
Senate Roll Call. This is a recorded vote number for a bill or an amendment.
Substitute
Another version of a bill.
Tie-bar
When one bill is tie-barred to another, it cannot become law unless the other bill is also enacted into law.
Voice Vote
This is an oral vote that is not tallied or recorded.

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