April 2020 Update

As legislatures adapt to the new reality that is unfolding, our work continues mostly uninterrupted. I hope everyone out there is staying safe and taking care of themselves.

I wanted to give an update on where we’re at on our 2020 Roadmap, the status of our subscriptions beta, and our COVID-19 resource.

Bill Tracking For Everyone

In case you missed the announcement in February, we now have bill tracking & notification features available on OpenStates.org with more to come soon. We’re excited to be providing this feature completely free for now, and are committed to continuing with a generous free tier once we bring the service out of beta.

If you find yourself tracking legislation either as part of your job, activism, or just to stay informed- this tool is one you’ll want to check out.

COVID-19 Legislation

While most legislative sessions have been suspended as a result of the COVID-19 situation quite a few are entering special (often virtual) sessions to continue work at a distance.

We are currently tracking 330 bills in 35 states on our Coronavirus/COVID-19 tracking page, we hope this resource is helpful in understanding what your state might be doing in response to the ongoing crisis.

(As an aside, this feature was rapidly prototyped using an early preview of a site feature that will allow anyone to make their own bundle of tracked legislation. If your organization has an issue area that might benefit from a similar feature, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and we’d be glad to try to get you set up with your own.)

Supporting Open States

Many of you have generously given to Open States in the past. Without that support there wouldn’t be an Open States, nor a team to work on it.

We’re hoping that those of you who are able will consider becoming donors to our brand new Patreon. Even a small donation helps and can help us make the case to larger funders that people want our work to continue.

If you’d prefer not to use Patreon, or want to make a one-time donation, please visit our donate page.

Additionally, we are going to be launching some commercial API tiers soon, if your organization is reliant upon Open States’ data please consider reaching out so we can make sure that your voice is heard as we move ahead on these changes.

Roadmap Update

A lot has been accomplished so far this year, amazing what having two full time developers can do for the project!

  • user logins & profiles
  • introduction of the aforementioned bill & issue tracking
  • brand new bulk data offerings
  • API usage information on profile pages
  • major documentation updates for new contributors
  • an improvement in legislator name matching that has so far resulted in a 400% increase in record linkage between bills, votes, and legislators
  • countless scraper improvements
  • decades of historical data for California, Illinois, and North Carolina

All of this is on our 2020 Roadmap.

And for the curious, our priorities going forward through the spring will be:

  • getting the record linkage rate even higher, with a goal of 90% or above in all states.
  • streamline slowest/most expensive API queries
  • launch of more power-user features

If you’d like to make a contribution to support this work, donate today or subscribe to our Patreon!

We’ll be posting more regular updates throughout the year, so if you haven’t already, please follow us on twitter and sign up for our mailing list.