Open States Unlocks State Legislative Information

Available for all 50 States, plus DC and Puerto Rico


New to a state and want to find out the government players? Need to track legislation at the statehouse? Want to be notified when bills pop up on a certain topic in your state?  A great new tool helps you do all this and more to keep up with state government. The Sunlight Foundation has recently released Open States, a website and mobile app.

Citizens, as well as journalists, can use Open States to:

  • find one’s local legislators
  • see how s/he voted
  • correspond with the legislator
  • track bills and/or get emails about bills and topics with Scout
  • map the district in which one lives
  • find an archive of bills from past sessions
  • track similar topics, such as gun safety laws, across states

Plus is offers much more. It scrapes state websites for data – -get this — every night! So it’s up-to-date.  I’m amazed by all the coding that makes this possible.

The quickest way to learn how to use this great tool — is by watching this four minute video.

This graphic shows how MinnPost used OpenState data to give a year-end roundup of state activity

This graphic shows how MinnPost used OpenState data to give a year-end roundup of state activity

The website and mobile app are a project of the Sunlight Foundation. It’s a seven-year old non-profit begun by securities lawyer Michael Klein with a purpose to use the Internet and new technology to make government more transparent. The foundation is a  reputable organization with a veteran of campaign disclosure heading a staff of about 40. The advisory board includes  notables, such as execs from Harvard, Wikipedia, and Apple.

If you’re interested in how a “community” of developers built this using  open-source, this video explains it. And for you data hounds, Open States  offers all its data, including the  API, bulk downloads and the Open States iOS Application.

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