The California First Amendment Coalition and MAPLight.org (a Sunlight grantee) filed suit in California courts to force the Legislative Counsel “to provide an electronic database containing information on bills and lawmakers’ voting records.” The suit comes more than a year after the groups filed a Freedom of Information request to obtain the database records from the Counsel. The Counsel’s office refused to comply with the request.
The Legislative Counsel currently only provides public access to legislative information in text files. This practice is archaic. The information may as well be simply tacked to the front door of the Legislature. This is what is meant by a text file:
Yes, that is a bill status page. The presentation here makes using the data, as MAPLight.org wishes to, impossible. The barrier to information access that the Legislative Counsel has created here is massive and unacceptable.
MAPLight.org is attempting to obtain the database records that make up the Counsel’s site to integrate this public data into their database highlighting special interest influence in legislative activities.
Here’s hoping they succeed.