Keeping tabs on legislation in the upcoming fiscal session beginning April 25 promises to be easier with the advent of a bill-tracking service that provides email alerts when there’s new action on a bill.

My Capitol Watchdog allows citizens as well as organizations to register to receive alerts on an unlimited range of bills. For a modest fee — $20 for individuals, $150 for professionals (price for organizations varies based on the number of members receiving alerts) — the site will provide email notifications any time a bill moves through the legislative gauntlet. Users can search for bills using keywords, bill sponsors, bill types or instrument numbers. It’s essentially a citizens’ alternative to a more expensive service, Legiscon, used by lobbyists to track legislation.

My Capitol Watchdog is the brain child of communications specialist Marie DesOrmeaux Centanni, a former reporter/anchor for KLFY TV10 and WAFB in Baton Rouge who earned a master’s degree in legislative affairs at The George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management. The Abbeville native served as former Gov. Kathleen Blanco’s press secretary and started Centanni Communications with her husband, Justin Centanni, following her tenure with Blanco.

“A bill can go through 12 steps before it becomes law,” Marie Centanni says. “But if you don’t know about it, it can be out of your hands.”

Centanni Communications has been testing the service with a select group of users, mainly lobbyists for whom bill tracking is a professional necessity, during the special session, exorcising the gremlins and fine-tuning the system. The feedback was good. Now it’s ready to go.

Users can register for the bill-tracker service as MyCapitolWatchdog.com. A trial registration that includes tracking a single bill is free.

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