LWVAL Legislative Observer Corps

Volunteer and learn about the AL Legislature first-hand!
Would you like to find out about the law-making process at the Alabama Legislature? If you volunteer for the LWVAL Observer Corps, you'll do just that. You'll get to know the legislators and learn about legislative process, committee debates, public testimony, floor action, and more. This is how Alabama's laws are made and constitutional amendments are initiated. Be there as it happens!

What is the LWVAL Legislative Observer Corps?
The Legislative Observer Corps consists of League members who volunteer to observe the action taken on a certain bill as it goes through the committee process and finally to the floor or the Legislature.

What exactly will I be observing as a member of the Observer Corps?
When the Alabama Legislature is in session, you will go to the Legislature in Montgomery (as your schedule allows) to observe and record notes about the actions of a legislative committee that is handling a piece of legislation (a bill) that is of interest to the League of Women Voters. You may be asked to observe the Legislature as the full Senate or House votes on a bill. However, most of the "action" happens prior to this vote when the bill is being reviewed by a committee. This is the activity in which we are primarily interested. As an observer, you will receive training and written guidelines for observing.

What will I do with my observation notes?
After attending a legislative committee meeting, we ask that you report your observations, preferably by e-mail, to a member of the League of Women Voter's Advocacy Team. You will be given the name and contact information for the person to whom you are to report.

How does the League use my observations?
The LWVAL Advocacy Team will study your information to determine who might be supporting or opposing a bill that is relevant to our legislative positions and what the arguments are for each side. This will aid us in lobbying critical legislators, presenting public testimony, writing advocacy letters, and determining the best timing for a grassroots "Call to Action" to our membership and friends.

How much time is required for observing, when & how often?
Depending on your travel distance to Montgomery, you will spend 1/2 and up to a full day covering usually one or two committees at the State House. Sometimes one committee of interest meets in the morning and another in the afternoon, so we might ask you to stay over to the afternoon if you are willing. The number of days you observe and the frequency is up to you. This is a totally flexible volunteer effort. The Legislature is in session from approximately early February to mid-May. The legislators are in Montgomery Tuesday - Thursday. Obersvation teams are needed usually on Tuesdays (meeting day for Senate Committees) or Wednesdays (meeting day for House Committees).

I've never done this. How will I learn?
Don't worry if you don't have experience with this sort of thing. An experienced member of the Observer Corps will acompany and orient you in the Alabama State House. This is a hands-on learning opportunity. Even as you become more experienced, we will try to pair you with another League member. This way you can cover more and have discussions about your observations over lunch if you like.

Will I be a "lobbyist"?
No, you will not be asked to lobby anyone. Advocacy in the AL State House can only be done by a registered lobbyist, i.e., one who has paid a lobbyist's fee and registered with the AL Ethics Commisssion. We would only ask you to observe the business of the legislature and take notes. On ocassion we may request that you ask a question of a sponsoring legislator about his/her legislation.

Do I have to be a member of the League of Women Voters to be a member of the Legislative Observer Corps?
Yes, but joining is very easy. Our membership is open to anyone aged 18 or older, man and woman, who believes in the principles of the League of Women Voters. Student membership at a reduced fee is also available. Read about membership in the League of Women Voters, and please join us.

I want to find out more about the LWVAL Observer Corps before I volunteer. Whom should I contact?
To volunteer or just ask questions, contact the LWVAL at 205 871-8194.

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