Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Righteous Geniuses Waking People Up. Open States: Bringing More Transparency To Government - Open States: Find and Follow Your State Capitol - The Mandatory Nanny State Is No Longer Required :D

Sunlight Foundation's Open States: Track What's Happening in Your State Capitol

After more than four years of work from volunteers and a full-time team here at Sunlight we're immensely proud to launch the full Open States site with searchable legislative data for all 50 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico. Open States is the only comprehensive database of activities from all state capitols that makes it easy to find your state lawmaker, review their votes, search for legislation, track bills and much more.

If you're interested in your state lawmaker, you'll be able to get notifications for their actions, a map of their district, voting records, committee assignments, campaign finance records from Influence Explorer, local news articles and contact information. If you're curious about a particular piece of legislation, Open States allows you to check on its status, find the sponsors, break down votes, view bill text and all supporting documents. Our powerful search capabilities allow you to find similar topics across states and view overview pages for each state, chamber and committee.

Each state's website has different quirks and the process of collecting and scraping legislative data into one unified, reliable and machine-readable format was a long challenging process. Here's a brief video about the story behind Open States:
To get started visit OpenStates.org and enter any U.S. address, browse a state from the drop-down or enter a term you're interested in into the search box in the top right corner. For a more thorough walkthrough of the site, please join us for a free training webinar on Friday, February 22nd from 1-2pm.
Legislative information is also available for previous and special sessions, making Open States an important archive of data that often disappears when a new session begins or a new state website is unveiled. The archives will vary from state to state based on when we scraped their sites and how much information they display.

Open States also has a companion iPhone and iPad app to easily browse the data on the go. All the data seen in Open States is available through our API or by bulk download and the code is open sourced and available on GitHub here. If you are interested in contributing to the project, feel free to join the Open States google group here. Some notable uses of Open States data includes NPR's StateImpact project and this visualization from MinnPost.com.

The Open States project would not be possible without the help of our volunteers and the generous financial support from the Rita Allen Foundation, Minnesota Historical Society and Open Society Foundations.

Open States is a collection of tools that make it possible for citizens to track what is happening in their state's capital by aggregating information from all fifty states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico and making it available in a common format.

Read more about it at:

Bringing us one step closer to transparency in government, the Sunlight Foundation recently launched Open States, a site to help citizens track what's happening in their state legislatures. A database of activities from all state capitols, Open States allows you to keep tabs on what lawmakers are doing, review their votes, search for legislation and follow bills. You can also receive notifications of actions, check out campaign finance records, gather news articles and more. This is a step in the right direction for citizen engagement, political accountability and open government.

Source: http://www.shareable.net/blog/open-states-one-step-closer-to-transparency-in-government-video

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