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US Politics & Gov't  (tags: americans, congress, government, ethics, freedoms, GoodNews, politics, usa, u.s., media )

- 1892 days ago -
Open States is a collection of tools that make it possible for citizens to track what is happening in their state's capital by aggregating information from all fifty states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico and making it available in a common format.

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JL A (281)
Thursday February 14, 2013, 12:13 pm
With cupid flying high today, you don’t have to send your state legislator candy or flowers, but you can use a new website from the Sunlight Foundation to get a little closer to their lawmaking. Open States now has legislative information for all 50 states, plus D.C. and Puerto Rico. Open States lets you engage with your lawmaker on the issues you care about. Find your legislator, see how they vote on bills and get directly in touch with them.

Check out Open States and start tracking legislative bills that matter to you.

Check out this Open States video

Using the site is simple. All you need to do is enter a U.S. address or select a state to research bills, review elected officials’ voting records or read committee assignments and compare similar bills among states. We also provide contact information for lawmakers, information about how they raise campaign money and even local news articles.

Create a free Open States account and save any bill or issue you are interested in learning more about. You can even get email alerts about your favorite topics via Sunlight’s Scout service.

Want to track your state bills on the go? Download the Open States app to iPad or iPhone.

Open States wouldn’t be possible without the help of our volunteers who started collecting data for the site in 2009. Open States also received generous support from the Rita Allen Foundation, Minnesota Historical Society and Open Society Foundations.

The data that powers Open States is available as an API or via bulk downloads. Several news organizations already used Open States data in their reporting, including National Public Radio's StateImpact, The Chicago Tribune and

Dive into the data behind your state bills. Check out Open States.

Thanks for all that you do,

James and the rest of the Sunlight team

P.S: For an interactive experience and training on how to use Open States, please read this blog post.

Open States: Find and Follow Your State Capitol
by Nicko Margolies
Feb. 14, 2013, 10:20 a.m.

Sunlight Foundation's Open States: Track What's Happening in Your State CapitolAfter more than four years of work from volunteers and a full-time team here at Sunlight we're immensely proud to launch the full Open States site with searchable legislative data for all 50 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico. Open States is the only comprehensive database of activities from all state capitols that makes it easy to find your state lawmaker, review their votes, search for legislation, track bills and much more.

If you're interested in your state lawmaker, you'll be able to get notifications for their actions, a map of their district, voting records, committee assignments, campaign finance records from Influence Explorer, local news articles and contact information. If you're curious about a particular piece of legislation, Open States allows you to check on its status, find the sponsors, break down votes, view bill text and all supporting documents. Our powerful search capabilities allow you to find similar topics across states and view overview pages for each state, chamber and committee.

Each state's website has different quirks and the process of collecting and scraping legislative data into one unified, reliable and machine-readable format was a long challenging process. Here's a brief video about the story behind Open States:

To get started visit and enter any U.S. address, browse a state from the drop-down or enter a term you're interested in into the search box in the top right corner. For a more thorough walkthrough of the site, please join us for a free training webinar on Friday, February 22nd from 1-2pm.

Legislative information is also available for previous and special sessions, making Open States an important archive of data that often disappears when a new session begins or a new state website is unveiled. The archives will vary from state to state based on when we scraped their sites and how much information they display.

Open States also has a companion iPhone and iPad app to easily browse the data on the go. All the data seen in Open States is available through our API or by bulk download and the code is open sourced and available on GitHub here. If you are interested in contributing to the project, feel free to join the Open States google group here. Some notable uses of Open States data includes NPR's StateImpact project and this visualization from

The Open States project would not be possible without the help of our volunteers and the generous financial support from the Rita Allen Foundation, Minnesota Historical Society and Open Society Foundations.

Christeen A (370)
Thursday February 14, 2013, 2:19 pm
Thank you for sharing this with us. Quite interesting.

Jae A (316)
Thursday February 14, 2013, 3:39 pm
Thanks. Most interesting and a great concept me thinketh :-) ...

JL A (281)
Thursday February 14, 2013, 4:14 pm
You cannot currently send a star to Christeen because you have done so within the last week.

John B (185)
Thursday February 14, 2013, 6:42 pm
Thanks J.L. for posting this! Have checked out the site and I am really going to enjoy using this. What a wonderful tool! Read, viewed and noted.

John B (185)
Thursday February 14, 2013, 6:44 pm
You cannot currently send a star to J.L. because you have done so within the last week.

JL A (281)
Thursday February 14, 2013, 9:39 pm
You are welcome John. I hope many will find it useful in their efforts on the state level, at least. You cannot currently send a star to John because you have done so within the last week.
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