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Announcing OpenGovernment Minnesota

June 17, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

We’re proud today to announce the launch of our next state on OpenGovernment: Minnesota. Now folks in Minnesota can track with ease everything their state legislature does — all the bills that are proposed, votes that are taken, money that is raised, and more. We’ve timed the launch of this, the sixth U.S. state on OpenGovernment, to coincide with the Netroots Nation conference ongoing this weekend in Minneapolis / St. Paul. We’re pleased to share this new public resource for accountability in government and citizen watchdogging with all the political bloggers & issue-based activists there.

Together with our partners at the Sunlight Foundation and with greatly-appreciated support from the Minnesota Historical Society, we’ve taken the clunky and outmoded official MN state legislature site, set up scrapers to liberate the data, combined it with information from other transparency databases, and put it all in a user-friendly interface that’s designed to make the working of government accessible to everyone, not just lobbyists and insiders. Specifically, to everything in the MN state legislator we’ve added:

  • Twitter, news, and blog mentions of bills and legislators that bring social wisdom and real-world context to the raw data.
  • Content view counts to help you understand what bills are getting noticed.
  • Comments forums that open up every bill in the legislature to public review and discussion.
  • Buttons for quick sharing with your social networks.
  • The ability to easily write your elected officials.
  • Visualizations for easier understanding of bill status and roll call votes.   
  • Simple tracking through RSS and email alerts

For an example, here’s a sample bill interface from the official Minnesota government website:

And here’s how the same bill looks now on OpenGovernment:

Since we launched the OpenGovernment platform in January, thousands of concerned citizens have used it to organize around legislation like Wisconsin’s anti-union budget bill and a gun rights bill in Texas, and to learn more about the special-interest money that funds campaigns, monitoring their elected official’s votes, and catching up with important floor activity that brings them right into the action.

Soon we’ll be connecting the federal information on OpenCongress with the state information on our OpenGovernment sites to make it possible for people to track the legislative issuess they care about across multiple levels of government in one place. Moving forward, we are seeking funding partners to roll out the OpenGovernment platform to all 50 states. If you’re a philanthropist or if you work at a foundation, get in touch and let’s see if there’s a way we can cracking on opening up the legislature in your state. We’re building an open platform for citizen participation in government from the ground up. If you appreciate what we’re doing, please consider supportting our work

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