A New Face for Open States

This post originally appeared at https://sunlightfoundation.com/2012/07/27/a-new-face-for-openstates/ but has been replicated here for posterity. Links may not have been preserved.

Wonder what the Open States team has been working on since we finished our initial goal of providing information for all 50 states back in March? As promised, we’ve been focusing on a new OpenStates.org and expanding our API to support full text search and we’re finally ready to show you the results.

If you head over to OpenStates.org now you’ll see that we’ve released a beta version of our site, currently available for 20 states. The remaining states are on their way later this year, but we wanted to make sure we took our time and did things right. As you explore the site you’ll see all of the information we’ve been making available via our API. You’ll also notice some enhancements made in the last few months like full-text search and enhanced support for legislator photos and contact addresses.

For an example of what you can do, check out the following links:

  • Find out who represents you in your state legislature.
  • See an overview of what’s been happening in the DC Council.
  • Check out the full history of AZ SB 1070, the controversial immigration bill that was the subject of a Supreme Court case last month.
  • See the voting history of any legislator, for example take a look at New Jersey Representative Nelson Albano’s voting record.
  • Try out our new full text search*, for example: view all Hawaii bills mentioning hospitals.

A few other features we’re particularly proud of and hope you check out:

  • Every page has a list of sources in the footer that can be used for checking our data against the official state website or for directly citing the state.
  • The search box at the top of OpenStates.org searches across all of our bills and legislators; type in a name or the number of a bill you’re interested in and we’ll take you to the relevant detail pages.
  • Where available we provide full contact information: address, email, fax and phone number for your state legislators.
  • Bill searches will also link you over to the relevant page on Scout. Similarly, whenever possible we’ll link to a legislator’s campaign finance profile on Influence Explorer.

We feel that OpenStates.org represents a huge step forward in terms of the availability and accessibility of state legislative information. Everyone involved has worked hard towards this release and we’re going to continue adding features and refining our presentation of this data. There’s still a lot more we can and will do, and we’re excited to finally be at a point where it is possible for us to start getting feedback on the direction we’re going. Please head over to OpenStates.org and let us know what you think.

  • A note for developers: Full text search and the additional data we’ve started collecting is all already available via our API. If you’ve been using our API or Scout you’ve seen our full text search in action for the last couple of months. Searches done against our Bill Search API now search the text within a bill instead of just the title and subjects.