Use the secretary of state’s poll locator service to learn your House and Senate districts and who represents you: http://mvp.sos.state.ga.us/.
Look for lawmakers in the House or Senate chamber or in their offices. Volunteer pages (usually schoolchildren) will carry messages to legislators in the chamber.
The public is not allowed on the House or Senate floor while in session. Legislators often will leave the chamber to meet with voters, especially if it’s one of their constituents.
Page desks are directly in front of the main doors leading to both chambers on the third floor of the Capitol.
Top lawmakers’ offices are in the Capitol and across Mitchell Street in the Coverdell Legislative Office Building. Be prepared to pass through metal detectors.
The General Assembly’s home page (www.legis.state.ga.us) links to House and Senate members by name and by district.
The directory lists the legislator’s office phone and email.
Some legislators also list home addresses and phone numbers.
Find copies of bills in the House clerk’s office (Room 309) and the secretary of the Senate’s office (Room 353). Each has a desk where you can request a bill.
Committee hearing notices are posted daily on a bulletin board outside both offices, and meeting calendars appear on monitors in the Legislative Office Building.
You can also contact by phone. House clerk’s office: 404-656-5015; secretary of the Senate’s office: 404-656-5040.
Go to www.legis.state.ga.us and click on the “legislation” icon under either the House or the Senate, depending on where the bill you are tracking originated.
This allows you to view the bill in its entirety, track it through committees and see roll call votes. Both the House and Senate sites have listings of committee meetings, too.
Watch the action
Business begins at 10 a.m. most days in the House and Senate chambers, but legislators often arrive before that. If you want to catch a legislator before the day’s session, try waiting at the velvet ropes outside the chamber.
Each chamber also has a gallery on the fourth floor of the Capitol. The hallways on the third floor have monitors that carry live feeds from the House and Senate. You will have to jockey with the lobbyists crowding the hallways for a good spot.
The live video feeds are also available online. Go to www.legis.state.ga.us and look for the links under “Live Broadcasts” on the left.
Many House committee meetings also stream live online. Look for the links at www.house.ga.gov/communications/en-US/VideoBroadcasts.aspx.
Speak at hearings
The real work on bills is done in committees and subcommittees, and that’s the place to weigh in. Contact committee members by phone, mail or email to make your voice heard. Speaking in person before a committee, though, is one of the most effective ways to reach legislators. The experience can be a little daunting, but legislators often appreciate hearing from taxpayers. Most committees have a sign-up sheet for speakers. Try to keep your remarks short and to the point.
If you plan to visit
Take MARTA. The Georgia State University station on the east/west line is a short walk from the Capitol.
Most people drive, nonetheless, even though parking is limited. Lots generally charge $5 daily for parking. Some options:
Pete Hackney Parking Deck (162 Jesse Hill Jr. Drive)
Steve Polk Parking Plaza (65 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive)
90 Central Parking Lot (accessible from Central Avenue and Courtland Street)
Follow the money
At the website for the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission (formerly the state ethics commission) — ethics.ga.gov — click on “search records” to see campaign finance disclosures, lobbyist disclosure reports and lawmakers’ personal finance disclosures.
Lobbyists are required to file disclosures twice a month during the session.
You can also request hard copies at the commission’s offices in the James H. “Sloppy” Floyd Building. Call 404-463-1980 or 1-866-589-7327 for information.
While you’re there
Wheelchair-accessible restrooms are available on the first, third and fourth floors of the Capitol, and other facilities are also on the second floor.
There are vending machines on the first floor, where coffee, sodas and snacks are available; a cafeteria on the sixth floor of the Legislative Office Building serves breakfast daily until 10 a.m. and lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. A food court in the bottom of the Sloppy Floyd Building keeps similar hours.
Dozens of monuments dot the Capitol grounds and the building’s interior. Find a description of each here: http://georgiainfo.galileo.usg.edu/monument.htm.