Today the Sunlight Foundation launches our Open States iPhone and iPad app that puts the inner-workings of state legislatures in the palm of your hand. The free mobile app provides up to the minute information on your state representative’s profile, legislation being considered, voting records, campaign finance totals and much more. The app launches with legislative data from all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
In the past, this public information was often hard to find thanks to antiquated state websites, but with a community of volunteers, the Open States Project has built the only completely free and open resource for accessing legislative information in a uniform format across all states.
Whether your Capitol is just across town, over the river or 500 miles down the highway, the Open States app allows you to:
- Identify your state representatives, find their contact information and explore district geography with Google Maps.
- See voting records, bill sponsorships, committee assignments and campaign finance information for all elected representatives.
- Follow any state bill on its way to becoming a law, from introduction through committee hearings, floor votes, passage and signing by the governor.
- Read the latest policy news affecting your state from Stateline.org, an online publication of the Pew Center on the States.
- Schedules and maps of the state house, in the few states that publicize this information
Sunlight Labs developed the app with support from the Minnesota Historical Society, and it runs on Sunlight Labs’ Open States API. Supported in part by the work of volunteers, the Open States Project collects and scrapes legislative data from state legislatures across the country and makes it available online in a unified, reliable, developer-friendly format. Learn more online at the Sunlight Labs blog, start contributing to the project here or follow @openstates on twitter for the latest news. Next steps include working on an Android version, building out bill text search, creating a public website for the data and continuing to adapt to changes in each legislature.
Like the app, the Open States API is open source. NPR’s StateImpact project is already using the API to add legislative information to their online reporting, including in Ohio and Idaho. Recently, The Chicago Tribune used it to analyze the Illinois Pension Code as part of an in-depth investigation. Sunlight previously developed other mobile apps for monitoring lawmakers: Congress for Android and Windows phones and Real Time Congress for iPhone, as well as Sunlight Health which helps people make more informed decisions about medical care.