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Tag Archive: legislative data

Complete Local Legislative Data

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ancbrigade

When we talk about providing a transparent and legible legislative process, the first step is identifying all the moving parts that contribute to the passing of law. In Washington, D.C., this means not just following the city council, but also following D.C.’s Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, or ANCs, the hyperlocal government entities that advise the city council on community issues. Although the District’s city government structure is uniquely granular, it serves as an excellent model for understanding what a complete legislative data framework should consist of.

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Trying to track committee hearings? Why docs.house.gov may be your best bet

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Running_istock By Carrie Tian and Matt Rumsey. Research Assistance by Justin Lin. Every morning in Washington staffers, lobbyists, activists, and ordinary citizens are faced with choices as they try to schedule their days on Capitol Hill. To fill their calendars and get to hearings on time they have to navigate several, often conflicting, sources of information to find the right date, time, and hearing room. As a result they can find themselves checking their laptops before leaving the house and refreshing their phones as they rumble down the Redline. Docs.House.Gov, among its other features, aims to simplify this problem by becoming a one-stop repository for information on House committee hearings. We decided to look back at the first six months of this program to see how close it was coming to the ideal of including every House committee hearing, as compared to the other sources of “the same” information, notably house.gov/legislative and individual committee websites.

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The Legislation Will Not Be Televised

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This map distinguishes five levels of legislative web and broadcasting comprehension on a sliding scale from “Best” (including all recommended elements: video formatting of floor proceedings and committee hearings, archived, and broadcasted via a variety of mediums) to “Worst” (missing several of these recommended elements). For more info (or to watch!) see the NCSL's original roundup here.

Open legislative data is integral to a functioning legible participatory democracy. The legislative data canopy covers everything from information about who represents you to the nuts and bolts of the legislative process to final letter of the law, with each element carrying its own series of challenges and considerations when it comes to public access. Timely and archived legislative process data (i.e. bills, amendments, committee meetings, votes, and contextual information, such as: research reports, legislative journals and lobbying information) are crucial to supporting citizen participation and informed voting. Video documentation of the legislative process represents the barebones of open and accountable legislative process data -- passive recordings of events as they happen for prosperity and public inclusion -- and yet this information is still not comprehensively available in most U.S. states.

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