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Tag Archive: Public Meetings

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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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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Local Advocate Helps Amp Up Atlanta Open Meetings Law

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States have complex levels of authority over municipalities, but that doesn't stop cities from crafting transparency reforms that lead locally and could impact state operations, too.

This week, Atlanta proved to be a great example of such leadership. The city council unanimously approved an amendment to the open meetings ordinance making it stronger than the language of Georgia's state law.

The events leading up to this change are explained in this story by Matthew Charles Cardinale of Atlanta Progressive News. Cardinale helped draft and push for the legislation after filing a lawsuit challenging closed-door sessions of city council committee meetings. Cardinale argued that there was case law, decided by the Court of Appeals of Georgia, supporting his position that even some meetings without a quorum of members have to be open to the public. State law only explicitly states that meetings with a quorum have to be open.

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