Are you having trouble accessing  old bills on the Legislature's website? I've got the fix, straight from Pierre.

Since the Legislative Research Council's revamp of the Legislature's website, I've been having a little trouble linking to bills from previous Legislative sessions. For instance, this morning I wrote about Senate Bill 171, the animal cruelty bill, from the 2013 session. From the LRC's home page, I click on Legislative Session>>2013, then on Bills, then scroll down and click on SB 171. Up comes 2013 SB 171's main page, with its sponsors, purpose, actions, and links to text and PDF versions. Those links all work.

But check out the URL that appears in the browser address bar when I view the main page for 2013 SB 171:

Compare that to the URL that appears when I access a bill from the current, 2014, session, like this year's Senate Bill 6:

See the similarity... and the problem? The only difference between the URL displayed for a 2013 bill and a 2014 bill is the bill number at the end. When I copy the URL for the 2013 bill and add it as a hyperlink in a blog post or share it in an e-mail, the person who clicks on that shared hyperlink will get the current 2014 version of SB 171, which has not yet been filed but which when filed will be an entirely different bill. The same happens if I try to share the link for 2012's House Bill 1234 (Gov. Daugaard's referred and defeated school reform bill) or 2010's HCR 1009 (Don Kopp's infamous climate-astrology resolution).

The Legislative Research Council took a moment this morning to explain the problem and help me fix it. The new website accesses sessions back to 2008 through a new query system. When you click on the 2013 session, the system stores "2013" as a variable and assumes your subsequent queries apply to that session. If you leave the LRC website and come back later, or if you pass the URL on to someone who hasn't been on the LRC website today, the system defaults to interpreting any bill URL as a request for the bill from the current session.

Here's how to fix that problem: if you have a URL for a bill from a previous session and want to share the link, add a session variable to the end of the URL:

LRC indicated that they will look for a way to remove this problem to make it easier for citizens to share links to bills. How's that for responsive government?