Over the past few days, national news has focused on events in the Wisconsin state legislature, where 14 senate Democrats are protesting a controversial new budget bill introduced by Republican Governor Scott Walker and supported by 19 senate GOPers.
Because the bill was introduced in a special session, it’s taken a while for us to be able to obtain the legislative data, but thanks to our partnership with the Open States Project, we now have a page for it here on OpenGovernment:
LRB 1383, or Special Session SB-11: state finances, collective bargaining for public employees, compensation and fringe benefits of public employees, the state civil service system, the Medical Assistance program, sale of certain facilities, granting bonding authority, and making an appropriation.
Shorter direct link to that bill’s profile page on OG, for copying-and-sharing: http://bit.ly/WIbill_sb11_page
… on that page, you can find its official information, a link to view its full bill text (link to 144-page .pdf document), view all its official actions, and check out summaries of the two committee votes that preceded bringing the bill back to the full chamber (sorry, no member-by-member roll call info is available at this time — but we’d love to be able to provide this crucial detail, and we can in the near future… if you help us grow). We’re showing the full extent of the information we have available for this special session bill — the roll call details are currently sparse, but please keep in mind this bill is a special case and we’re working to standardize the data as best we can.
In addition, you can get engaged with this newsworthy piece of legislation: comment on it, subscribe to an RSS feed of its every action (or major actions only), and most importantly, on the right-hand side of the page, input your five-digit Wisconsin zip code to find your state senator and contact him or her about it (over phone, email, postal mail, and more).
On the OpenGovernment – Wisconsin homepage, you can browse all members of the WI state senate, browse all bills in the 2011-2012 session, those bills most in the news, a dozen major issue areas, and all publicly-available information about campaign contributions made to WI state senators and assemblymembers. OpenGovernment brings together all this info, for the first time all in one place, alongside news & blog coverage, social media mentions, free public participation tools, and more, in our distinctively welcoming web design. Finally, a version of OpenCongress for state legislatures.
We’ll have more to write about this soon, but in short — this is a tremendous illustration of the utility of OpenGovernment as a free public resource about what’s happening in state legislatures. This timely story is driving national news discourse and political blogging across the country, and the public needs objective information about the actual substance of the bill being discussed – and then user-friendly ways to organize their communities around it. We seek to bring much more data and many more powerful features to OpenGovernment and roll out this proven model of transparency to all 50 U.S. state legislatures — see how you can help us grow and obtain additional funding support from charitable foundations & philanthropists. In short, events like these are exactly why we need OpenGovernment for your state and local government!
Don’t forget — if you use the Twitter commercial micro-publishing service, tweet #WIbill #sb11 and your updates will appear there on the bill page shortly. We’re going to focus development resources on making this even more inclusive so that we can bring in other hashtags surrounding this bill, e.g. #WIunion, #solidarityWI, etc. Short link to this blog post, for copying-pasting-sharing, if you like: http://bit.ly/WIbill_sb11