I emailed my State Rep, Carl Sciortino about it at the time:
…The current system may have made sense in another time, but with today’s technology the cost of making this information readily available is trivial and it would greatly increase the transparency of the legislative process. Hiding this most basic of information, makes it appear that you do not want to accountable for your committee votes, which I sincerely hope is not the case. You should be proud of the work you do in the state house and not erect barriers to prevent your constituents from finding out about it.
He finally got back to me arguing that the bill was unnecessary and had been misleadingly represented by the Republicans and by the local press, (including us I might add.)
…Bills are reported out of committees with the committee vote clearly indicated, and any dissenting members listed. It seemed to be a redundant provision, as bills are reported out of committee with the vote clearly indicated, and any dissenting members listed. This is listed online on the House Journals…
I decided to find out whether or not this was true, so I went to the Legislature’s website and looked at several House Journals, but could not find in any of them a list of dissenting members. It’s possible that all the bills coming out of committee that I examined were approved unanimously. If someone with more patience wants to examine this question further, that would be helpful.
Giving Sciortino the benefit of the doubt, let’s assume that dissenting members names are published in the Journal. The website is still a mess and makes it difficult to find information easily. If you want to find out the status of a bill, you need to find its docket number from a PDF of all bills introduced, look up the conversion of docket number to bill number, (also a PDF) then enter that number into a form to get either the legislative history or separate form to get the text of the bill. If you want to find out what the committee votes are, you need to look that up in the journal for the day the bill was reported to the full chamber. Amendments offered in committee and votes on those amendments are unavailable as far as I can tell. For votes of the full house and senate on the bill you can enter the roll call number into a form.
For comparison, I went over to Thomas, which is the congress’ site for tracking bills and searching the congressional record. It’s much cleaner, better linked and better organized than the legislature’s site is. I would suggest it as model for the state legislature. The one thing that was moderately difficult to find, though not nearly as bad as in our case, was the exact thing that prompted this inquiry in first place: committee vote details. These, along with the amendments offered in the markup session, were buried in the committee reports and not linked to from the main summery of congressional actions, but at least the information was available.