The average Texan's guide to keeping up with the legislature

For 140 days during every odd-numbered year, the Texas legislature meets and determines laws, rules, regulations and restrictions that will affect the life of every Texan. Here is how you can keep up with is going on in Austin under the dome.

Visit your legislators at the Capitol

Take a note from state lobbyists and pay a visit to your representatives in person. First, find out who represents you here. Then, look at maps to find out where your House Representative and Senator offices are located. Lawmakers are typically in their Capitol office from Monday afternoons until Thursday evenings.

You can view a full map of the capitol building here. Of note: The cafeteria is located on the first floor of the extension building, along with the open air rotunda and a large portion of lawmakers' offices.

Staircases are available to the immediate right and left of the rotunda, but if you have a long way to go, it may be worthwhile to take an elevator located just north of the stairs.

Capitol Map

Watch the proceedings in the House and Senate from the Capitol

Even though the legislature is in session for 140 days, the House and Senate are not always active. Check the House and Senate websites to see if the chambers are adjourned. If either is in session, you can watch from their viewing galleries found on the third floor of the Capitol building. The House is to the west, and the Senate is to the east.

While you are there, use the Senate and House seating charts to easily find your legislators.

Watch the proceedings online or follow along on social media

If you cannot make it to Austin, you can always go online to watch any of the proceedings, both in the chambers and in committee hearings. House broadcasts can be viewed here. The Senate video feed can be found here.

And if you cannot tune in online, follow legislative happenings via social media, with the hashtag #txlege. Community Impact will also be covering the session using #CITxLege.

Take a look at the list of bills already filed

Here you can find a full list of any bills filed in the Senate or House during the 85th session. The list is pretty lengthy, but it can be managed by getting alerts for specific bills upon creating an account with Texas Legislature Online. Alerts will notify you when any action is taken on a bill.

Testify in a Senate or House hearing

If you have a strong opinion on a piece of legislation filed, or feel as though you can provide certain expertise, testify at a House or Senate hearing. The full guide on how to register as a witness for a House hearing is posted here.

Call and e-mail your representatives

A full e-mail and phone list is available for the Senate. The list of phone numbers is also available here for the House. House member email addresses are available on individual House rep pages. Not all House members use e-mail.

Follow all of Community Impact's coverage 

Read the latest news, insights and weekly recaps from the Capitol on our Texas Legislature homepage. Get a sense of what happens behind the scenes with our Latest from the Lege feature. And follow along with our hashtag #CITxLege on Twitter.