About: Karen Suhaka

Karen SuhakaI founded LegiNation, Inc. with the goal of making state level legislation more readily available to the professionals who need it, and even more importantly to the public at large. We are building products and websites to spark a renaissance in American politics, leveraging the internet to create the dialog so desperately needed amongst our elected officials, legislative professionals, and everyday citizens. This blog is an extension of those efforts.

Author Archives:

The Value of Quality Campaign Data — Guest post from KnowWho

11.20.14

This post comes to us from the amazing folks at KnowWho. If you like our legislator pages then you already love KnowWho   The Value of Quality Campaign Data Quality campaign data comes in several forms depending on your particular need, and KnowWho’s data covers those needs with accurate political ratings and comprehensive contact information …
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Is Facebook Filtering Content for More Ad Revenue? Guest Post from Craig Wilcox of Simplur

10.26.14

Is Facebook Filtering Content for More Ad Revenue? The treatment of recent major stories by Facebook highlights how our country’s dominant social network can amplify likable stories and filter out uncomfortable stories and challenging ideas. Facebook is optimizing user experiences away from important social information that might otherwise lead to substantial social progress. The question that …
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Welcome to our 10,000th User!

08.13.14

Since www.BillTrack50.com launched in March 2012 we have been thrilled every time a new user decided to register for an account and start searching for bills. Our users have found and read over 6 million bills already! Today we are particularly excited to welcome our newest user, the 10,000 user to sign up for our …
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Are You Smarter Than A Founding Father? (Guest post from Liberty Day)

07.24.14

This is the second in our series of posts from the Western Conservative Conference.  We were delighted with the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and mini constitutional flash cards given to us by Andy McKean from Liberty Day. We’ve invited Andy to tell us a little more about Liberty Day and their mission to distribute copies of …
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Regulation Freedom Amendment (Guest Post from Roman Buhler)

07.20.14

Joe and I spent the weekend at the Western Conservative Summit, meeting many interesting people. We invited a few of them to share their ideas on this blog. The following opinions are of the guest blogger and do not necessarily represent the views of BillTrack50. Please share your opinions in our comment section below.   …
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The BillTrack50 database, sliced and diced

07.15.14

  BillTrack50 was founded in 2011, and lwe aunched our website in early 2012. Since then we’ve accumulated quite a bit of data, a lot of which I’ve previously given you a look in this Eye Candy blog series. What I haven’t done is a simple overview of the entire database. Let’s take a look, …
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Five Key Legal Challenges in Drug Abuse Cases – Guest Post

07.09.14

In any criminal case, the state has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant has committed the crime with which he or she has been charged. Barring cases in which the defendant has either been caught red-handed either in possession of or distributing illegal drugs, or has been caught in a …
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Fancy Clock Face

New website updating schedule

06.21.14

We are pleased to announce that we have increased the frequency of our updates. Previously we were processing updates overnight, starting around 10:00 pm, and sending relevant alerts to our subscribers starting around 4:00 am. We have now started updating 4 times a day for actions, votes, sponsorship changes, etc. We will still be processing …
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Legislating Family Matters

05.31.14

Ronald Reagan famously said: “The family has always been the cornerstone of American society. Our families nurture, preserve, and pass on to each succeeding generation the values we share and cherish, values that are the foundation of our freedoms.” Whether you agree or not, there is no denying that American politics today certainly concerns itself …
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How resolute are the states?

05.19.14

If you read this blog, and I hope you do, you’re familiar with the basic landscape of how many bills each state introduces.  Here’s a map of how much legislation was introduced in each state in 2013 (when all the states were in session): However, this map includes both bills and resolutions. Some states use …
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A roundup of the latest BillTrack50 improvements

05.14.14

Here at BillTrack50 we believe one of the reasons our customers like us so much is that we try to respond to requests in a timely fashion. We’ve added lots of little things since the last roundup I did here on the blog, in addition to the bigger items that got their own posts (like …
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Bill Progress by State — a look at the legislative process

05.12.14

To celebrate rolling out our newest feature, filtering by bill progress, we are taking a look at bill progress across the states. The following analysis is about bills introduced since the beginning of 2014 through now (May 2014).  Note MT, ND, NV, and TX are out of session this year, and NC has not started …
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Combining Bill Sheets and new feature: Combine Unique

05.12.14

So you’ve broken your wide array of interests into smaller specific topics, and made a bill sheet for each one. Keeping your searches narrow helps keep your dashboard and alerts nice and organized, and therefore useful and efficient. You can also set your alert levels differently for different topics, and share alerts with different people …
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New Progress Filter

05.12.14

We have added a new way to filter bills on your bill sheet, based on their current progress through the legislative process. We are just taking a very high level view of the steps, so you can look for just bills that have at least  made it to the second chamber, or all bills that …
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Stop The Secrecy Banner

Stop The Secrecy!

04.24.14

  President Obama and other leaders are meeting in Asia right now to finalize the Trans-Pacific Partnership – a deal that threatens to censor your use of the Internet, kill jobs, undermine environmental protections and remove your democratic rights. This is urgent: They’re trying to nail down this deal right now under cover of extreme secrecy, with citizens …
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Colorado Energy Tech Mashup

04.24.14

(This is an event I’m putting together for the local community, so I feel compelled to share. The post was actually written by the inestimable Chris Franks, my partner in this endeavor)  A little over a year ago, a group of Denver entrepreneurs got the chance to sit down with one of the most famous …
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Introducing OpenTheGovernment.org (guest post by Mary Treacy)

04.20.14

In some circles, change is happening fast inside the Beltway – One issue on the front burner is the issue of open government itself. OpenTheGovernment.org is a key player in coordinating the work of non-profit organizations with the Federal Interagency Open Government Working Group. A priority is to ensure that the process itself is open. One concrete …
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Reset the Net

04.17.14

I’ve blogged about it before, so you know we’re big supporters of the fourth amendment around here. Not to take anything away from the first amendment, another fave, but the fourth has seemed to need even more love recently. As part of our efforts we’ve joined Reset the Net and pledged to do even more …
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There Oughta Be a Law – A Model Law (new paper from Mary Whisner)

04.13.14

I would like to bring to your attention this recent paper about model legislation:  http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2423090. It lists many organization that propose model legislation, and a wealth of examples, along with some salient observations about transparency. Here’s the abstract, or grab the whole paper:   There Oughta Be a Law – A Model Law Mary Whisner …
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Track educator policy legislation in SREB states

04.07.14

One of our favorite customers recently included this amazing (interactive!) eye candy in their monthly newsletter. I’m republishing it here with permission. I hope you click through to actually play with the tool. Inspirational stuff!   Track educator policy legislation in SREB states Policies concerning effective teaching have remained prominent on the legislative agendas of …
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Who’s Influencing Whom?

04.06.14

This summary/teaser was provided to us from our good friends at KnowWho. I found the information very interesting and so got permission to share this information here with you.   Grassroots Influence Pulse™ Qualitative Survey Results Topline By Amy Showalter and Kelton Rhoads, PhD What are the current trends in grassroots influence? How much time …
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Guest Post: State Gun Safe Laws

03.09.14

  This is a guest post from Andrew Jerrard representing this gun safe website.  Before we start with Andrew’s post I want to share a list of current gun safe related bills: We’ve also dealt with second amendment issues before in our contrarian series and with another guest post infographic. And now, Andrew:   State gun safe …
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Revisiting the Fourth Amendment and introducing Omiro

02.26.14

A little while back, TechDirt and the New American had a blog posts about the NSA, and states pushing back on Fourth Amendment issues.  These articles featured several interesting bills: NH HB1533 - Requiring a warrant to search information in a portable electronic device. NH HB1619 - Prohibiting the acquisition, collection, or retention of certain information. AZ SB1156 - Prohibited electronic data; …
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New Feature: Search for words near other words

02.12.14

We are pleased to introduce a new way to search on BillTrack50. In addition to being able to search for phrases by “enclosing search terms in quotes”, you can now search for words near other words, but not necessarily right together or in a particular order. Near searches assess bills based on how often your …
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BillTrack50 Early 2014 Topics of Interest

02.09.14

The 2014 session is already, statistically, about halfway done. We’ve seen well over 40,000 bills introduced in the last six weeks. Seems like a good time to take a quick peek at the topics that have been interesting to our users. To start with, here’s a word cloud of the topics that have been covered …
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Setting up a BillTrack50 Widget with your NationBuilder nation

01.29.14

  So you would like to keep your members up to date with the latest movement on some important bills.  We think that’s a perfect ambition; getting people passionate and knowledgeable about a topic involved in the process is exactly how the democratic process is supposed to work. We’d like to make that process as …
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New Feature: Sorting by Bill Number

01.25.14

We have always offered the ability to sort your bill sheet by any column, just by clicking on it (or clicking twice for reverse order). However, states number bills in a variety of ways. Some of which tend to confound a computer. When a state uses leading zeroes, then bill numbers will sort as you …
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New feature: Map your bills!

01.25.14

As you know, I love to do heat maps showing where certain topics are hot. Hydraulic fracturing, legislation about disasters, in addition to my incessant counting of bills introduced and passed by state.  We also have the map of current bills introduced that you can always see linked right on our home page. But what …
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2013 Wrap Up – a look at BillTrack50 and our esteemed users

12.29.13

2013 saw lots of legislative action, if not at the federal level, certainly at the state level. BillTrack50 saw lots of action too; we are proud to have served nearly three and a half million bills to our users this year, and given results on over a quarter of a million searches. Over the summer …
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New Feature: Automatic Free Trials

12.28.13

We’ve always had a very liberal free trial policy. But now we’ve integrated it right into our site so you can sign yourself up for a free trial right when you establish your first bill sheet. You’ll get an automatic 30 days to try all of our premium features for tracking and sharing before you …
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2013 Wrap up stats: what the states did this year

12.26.13

2013 was our first full year. And what a year it was! Thank you to all our users, and our customers, and to all the people who linked our bills in blogs, tweets, and elsewhere. We appreciate your support. I thought it would be fun to take a quick look at the states and what …
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Easy, Simple, Automatic Way to Keep Your Constituents Informed: Widgets

12.22.13

So you would like to keep your members up to date with the latest movement on some important bills.  We think that’s a perfect ambition; getting people passionate and knowledgeable about a topic involved in the process is exactly how the democratic process is supposed to work. We’d like to make that process as painless …
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Reform ECPA: Tell the Government to Get a Warrant

12.02.13

  We here at BillTrack50 don’t take a (public) political stand, as a general rule. But we are unabashed fans of the fourth amendment, which we’ve blogged about before. If you have a moment, give a click for your civil rights. Here’s an excellent infographic What’s So Bad About the ECPA from TechFreedom:   click …
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Property Taxes in Your County (interactive map)

12.02.13

So it’s not legislation, but it is taxes, which, I think you will agree, are closely related. Not to mention this interactive map of property tax rate at the county by county level is some wonderful eye candy from the Brookings Institute.  Enjoy! http://www.brookings.edu/research/interactives/2013/county-property-taxes-map   From the website: “How much does the average household in …
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Welcome Students! and Teachers!

11.25.13

We have been surprised and pleased with how many college students have been establishing accounts. We are happy to have you here, and want to make BillTrack50 even more useful to you. Please take a minute to fill out our brief survey. You can either go to this link or fill out the form below (give …
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Eleven Nations = USA

11.23.13

We all know the United States is far from uniform. Indeed that’s the underlying theme of this blog. There are lots of ways to break up the country into more understandable chunks. Recently my Uncle Ed (who is awesome) sent me a link to a blog post by Colin Woodard, the author of “American Nations: …
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Sharing Bill Sheets

11.02.13

We are very pleased to announce a major new feature: the ability to share your bill sheets.  When you go to any of your bill sheets, you’ll see a new tab for sharing. Sharing a bill sheet is a lot like sharing a stakeholder page. You invite a user to share your bill sheet by …
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Contest Winners!

11.01.13

We are excited to announce the winners of our first contest. But first, a little background. Initially we invited individuals and organizations to submit a paragraph about how they would use a subscription to BillTrack50 to address an issue they care about. We then opened the site for voting, and our readers chose the winner. …
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New Feature: Saving a Quick Search

10.31.13

We introduced several new features over the summer, and I’m happy to announce one more: saving a quick search. Quick searches have two distinguishing features. First, they are free for everyone for unlimited searches. All you need to do to access the quick search tool is register for a free account, and you’re good to …
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BillTrack50 Usage and Metrics

10.21.13

A few looks at how users are using our site. By state (hooray that all states are represented!): By city (Note, BillTrack50 is based in Denver): By top level domain: Here is where our visitors go:   Here’s how many bills are read every day (for a total of almost 3.5 million!!):     Top …
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New search screen, new data, and other updates

10.12.13

We’ve made several improvements over the summer, both to the website and to the data. New Quick Search The most visible change is to our quick search screen.  We simplified it to one search box, which you can toggle between “all of”, the most common search, and “any of”. You can put bill numbers right …
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Amazing Political Eye Candy from Mike Bostock

10.04.13

Roger pointed me at this site, and it’s amazing: http://bost.ocks.org/mike/. It is a series of visualizations by Mike Bostock. Boy are they pretty. I’d like to highlight a couple of my favorites which could most definitely be considered political eye candy. The little snippets of the graphic I’m showing are just to wet your appetite, you …
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Introducing Vote4.US — guest post by Jerry Brower

09.25.13

In some ways, local elections have far more impact on your daily life than who get elected president, but the local candidates are usually the ones we know the least about.  Sometimes we end up voting for whoever placed the most signs or bought the most advertising.  For most, it’s too much work to do …
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Bills on the go! CTA adds BillTrack50 to their mobile app

09.22.13

Interested in issues that affect the technology industry in Colorado?  Colorado Technology Association keeps a curated list of state and federal bills you should be aware of. We are also excited to be part of The Colorado Associations mobile app.  You can now access the list of key bills from the app, and even click …
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Meet PollVault and Nolan Love

09.09.13

This is a guest post by Nolan Love introducing PollVault, hopefully the first of several.  Take a quick look and you’ll see why I’m so excited about it.  You can reach Nolan at: contact (at) pollvault (dot) com for more information.   PollVault Democracy Server The fabric of our democracy is changing, post by post, tweet …
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What are all those bills about, anyway?

08.30.13

States often classify their bills by broad subjects, such as health, or education, or crime, etc.  We recently added this information to our site, and I realized that haven’t done a series of word clouds for a while.  Two facts that lead to on conclusion: we should look at what bills are about, according to …
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Denver Startup Week

08.27.13

We are happy to say we were chosen as one of the top 10 start ups in Denver, and will be showcased at the Tech Cocktail during start up week. We had tons of fun last year and are honored to be chosen again this year. They will also be crowning one company as The …
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Comparing How States Use Amendments

07.26.13

The states vary dramatically in how they implement the legislative process.  I’ve posted before how many bills get introduced, and passed, in each state.  I decided it might be interesting to take a look at how many times a bill gets amended during the process. To refresh your memory, here’s a map of how many …
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Guest Post – America’s Gun Violence Epidemic Infographic by GWU

07.15.13

Posted on behalf of Sarah Fudin, who works in community relations for The George Washington University’s online Master of Public Health program, dubbed MPH@GW, which offers students the ability to earn their MPH online. The topics of mental health and gun violence have been a hot topic across news outlets and the facts have surely been …
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Tips and Tricks for using your Bill Sheet

07.07.13

A bill sheet is basically a saved search.  Bill Sheets form the basis of our tracking and sharing services. The bill sheet grid itself has quite a bit of functionality. Then once you have your bill sheet just like you want it, you can build alerts, widgets, and stakeholder pages based on it. Making a …
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Restore the Fourth

07.04.13

                                            The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, …
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Session breather – Top Bills and other Statistics

06.27.13

Now that most of the states are out of session, or nearly so, I thought it would be fun to look at some top ten lists and other statistics about what people found most interesting on our site this year. To start with, lets look at the top ten bills read on our website so …
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Anatomy of the Bill Detail page

06.09.13

The heart of our site is our bill detail pages.  There’s one for each bill introduced since 2011.  You can access these bill pages whether or not you have an account. You can get a bill page by registering for an account, doing a quick search, and then clicking the bill icon for the bill …
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How to Use a Stakeholder Page

05.26.13

So, you received an invitation to see a stakeholder page.  Or maybe you clicked through a link from a website, or twitter, or email, and found yourself on BillTrack50 looking at a list of bills.  There’s a few little tricks that can help you make the best use of the page. Establishing an Account If …
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Is that bill going to pass? Here’s an easy way to tell.

05.24.13

So you are looking at a bill.  You hate it, you think it’s terrible, you think it’s trouble if it passes.  Or you love it, it’s a great idea, you think it could make a really big difference. You really hope it will pass.  But it’s in a state you aren’t that familiar with, and …
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How to find what you are looking for – constructing a search on BillTrack50

05.19.13

Building a search on BillTrack50 is fairly straightforward, however it isn’t exactly like doing a Google search. So there’s a few things you need to keep in mind, which I’ll explain in this post. There’s also a few tips and tricks advanced users might find useful.  Any bills that are introduced later and meet your …
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Summary of White House’s new Open Data Policy (by Alan deLevie)

05.13.13

It’s exciting times right now in the government transparency community.  Alan deLevie posted this very thorough summary of the recently released Open Data Policy, and it’s reception across the community,  in Robert Richard’s wonderful Legal Informatics Research Network google group.  I’ve pasted the whole thing below for your enjoyment.   Written by Alan deLevie: Today the White House released …
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Hack4Colorado – civic hackathon in Denver on May 31

05.07.13

We are excited to be sponsors of on Hack4Colorado, coming up in a few weeks. I hope you are getting ready for Hack4Colorado on May 31st – Just wanted to give you some more information to make sure your hacking experience is the best it can be. If you are following @Hack4CO on twitter, then you know …
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The Ebb and Flow of Session

04.29.13

I learned a new word recently: prorogation. Which got me thinking, an inspired this post. It’s true that the states are all on different calendars.  But many start early in the year, and many are done round about now, or recently finished, or will soon finish.  As of now, we have 118,000 bills or so …
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Introducing: The Contrarians

04.23.13

We are launching a new blog feature, which I hope you will enjoy.  As you may recall, last summer we dubbed “The Summer of Controversy” and picked various hot-button topics to examine.  From  Gay Marriage and  Sex Offender Lists, to Stand Your Ground and Genetically Modified Food, we covered a wide range of topics, and hopefully helped you …
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Google, Twitter, & Facebook: We need to know if we can trust you

04.10.13

CISPA is a bill that would make every privacy policy on the web a total joke. These three companies say they’re for their users’ rights. So where do they stand on the law that would END privacy? See this view http://youtu.be/IkuH5ZjEdBw and check out this page for more information: http://www.saveyourprivacypolicy.org/ The internet is ours. Defend it.

Lawrence Lessig: We the People, and the Republic we must reclaim

04.07.13

There is a corruption at the heart of American politics, caused by the dependence of Congressional candidates on funding from the tiniest percentage of citizens. That’s the argument at the core of this blistering talk by legal scholar Lawrence Lessig. With rapid-fire visuals, he shows how the funding process weakens the Republic in the most …
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Word Cloud of Bills Passed in 2013 so far

03.23.13

Out of over 100,000 bills introduced so far this session, around 3,200 have been passed.  I thought it would be interesting to make a quick word cloud to see what’s in those bills.  Health and education are popular, as always, but also guns, controlled substances, and natural gas make an appearance as well.  And many …
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Social Media – Good or Bad? What your state government thinks (and is doing)

03.14.13

I personally am a huge fan of some social media (Twitter, Tumblr) less so of others (Facebook).  I certainly do think tools like these are going to be a significant communication tool for a long time to come.  Apparently state legislatures agree, and have been introducing an ever growing number of bills involving social media …
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Hydraulic Fracturing – legislative trends

03.07.13

Hydraulic fracutring has been very much in the news lately, and has become a flashpoint for many when talking about the role of the oil industry, and it’s future.  With the development of “unconventional” reserves, in particular using horizontal wells producing from shale formations, completion techniques that used to be the domain of petroleum engineers …
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New Webinar Series

02.28.13

We are launching a new feature: legislative round up webinars.  They will be short, but interesting, explorations of how one specific topic is being treated across the states.  We will do a quick demo setting to show you how to set up your own search, and then take some time to look at legislation across …
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Some nice eye candy from The Atlantic

02.23.13

“What Is It Exactly That Makes Big Cities Vote Democratic?” Some nice maps and graphs looking at how urban areas voted in the last election, and trying to figure out which factors might help explain why some (but not all) cities lean blue. Definitely worth checking out: http://www.theatlanticcities.com/politics/2013/02/what-makes-some-cities-vote-democratic/4598/

Has agreeability disappeared in politics?

02.16.13

We all hear about the gridlock in congress. Partisan politics seems the rule of the day.  But how do things look at the state level?  Do legislators get along better or worse? I previously wrote a post about what percent of bills pass, pointing out that Congress passed fewer bills then every single state last …
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NFL Fan Allegiance During The Playoffs

02.01.13

It’s not political, but it’s football, which is, you know, just as important. Right?  Quality eye candy at the very least. Beautiful job by http://io9.com.  There’s lots of good stuff in the whole blog post, well well worth checking out.  And, if it’s not too late, Go Broncos!  (it’s not too late, is it?)   Link: …
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Gun control and mental health suddenly interesting

01.30.13

I did another quick word cloud to look at what people have been searching for over the last few weeks (below is the results from the most recent 1,000 searches). Seems that mental health/illness, guns and firearms control have been searched for the most.  Along with various health related searches, which have been predominant since …
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New features and some examples

01.24.13

New Home Page Bling for the New Session As you are likely well aware, the sessions have started (or at least are pre-filing) nearly everywhere.  We are processing about 3,000 new bills a day.  To help you see the sessions unfold we’ve made a couple changes to our home page.  First, we have a running …
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2013 Session Kick Off Word Cloud

01.13.13

To celebrate an exciting milestone — passing 1 million bills read on our website — I decided to celebrate by looking at what people are searching for.  I took a look at the searches done in 2013 so far and made with word cloud using Wordle.net.  There’s a few themes that jump out.  Last year …
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Quick look at our users (hi users!)

01.03.13

First, welcome to everyone who is trying to keep up with legislation and recently found our site.  We’re glad you’re here!  The new influx of users caused me to spend a little time looking at who is using our site, and how.  First, it turns out people from nearly every county in the country have …
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New BillTrack50 Features – Just in time for Christmas!

12.23.12

The elves, or maybe our developers — our development elves? — have been hard at work making improvements suggested by our awesome customers.  In case you haven’t noticed, here are some new features you might want to check out: 1) It’s old news now, but federal bills are available and return in your results, with …
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How long is too long? Not long enough? Just right? (updated)

12.20.12

A little frivolous confection for your holiday enjoyment: comparing how long bills are in different states.  Thanks to Rich for a lovely job on the maps, as usual. As a first comment, the average word length across the country of words in bills is 6.16 letters, vs about 5 letters in common writing. Given the …
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‘Session Starts Soon’ Promotion

12.15.12

Why not subscribe to BillTrack50 for the new year?  You’ll find keeping up with legislation can be delightfully easy and affordable.  You’ll love our research, tracking, and sharing tools.  And for a little extra fun, we’re happy to announce the following pre-session promotion. Choose the item that suits you best: Two hour consultation (can be …
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Stop the Internet Coup – ITU meets Dec 3

11.19.12

An obscure international meeting next week could give a top-down, non-transparent UN body (one with representation from many dictatorships) the power to regulate the Internet. It’s called the ITU. The ITU would literally give dictators like Syria’s Assad (who was trending yesterday for–it seems–cutting Syria off from the Internet) a role in crucial decisions about …
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Voting map by voter, instead of by state

11.13.12

I find this presentation of how people voted across the country to be quite arresting. A wonderful example of political eye candy. Kudos to IDV Solutions and our friends at The Timoney Group on this well conceived and well executed map. Here’s a link to a bunch of versions, or check out IDV Solutions’ blog for …
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My Fair Election – first general results

11.12.12

So the dust has settled.  We know the election results.  But how did the election itself go?  Tracking and quantifying good and bad experiences around the country was the goal of our www.MyFairElection.com project.  With a great team and a little luck, we were able to gather over 1000 reviews of polling places on election …
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Top 10 Trending Bills and Legislators on BillTrack50

11.03.12

Our site debuted in March of 2012.  Since then tens of thousands of  people have been search for and reading bills on our site.  We also get a lot of requests for legislator information.  I thought it would be interesting to take a look at what is most on people’s minds going into the election.  …
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Bills about Disasters

11.01.12

LegiNation is based in Denver, which is pretty far inland, so we’ve been entirely out of harms way.  But our thoughts go out to those who have been impacted by Sandy.  We hope you are safe, and your recovery efforts go smoothly. Since it was on my mind, I decided to take a quick look …
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The prettiest political eye candy ever, by xkcd

10.28.12

This isn’t mine, but I have to share: Click for bigger view, and schedule some time to look, and think, and learn.  If this doesn’t wow you, then your eyes just aren’t interested in candy, I guess. Huge kudos to xkcd for this amazing graphic.  I feel good that I just bought the first book. …
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Tweet a bill, win a prize!

10.27.12

We are excited to announce a new promotion.  We already help you track your bills, now we can help you track your stuff, too.  We’ve partnered with Tagster.com to create these fantastic, all American tags. TAGster gives lost objects, people or pets a way back home. If you’d like a tag all you need to …
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Introducing My Fair Election for Election Day Transparency

10.13.12

MyFairElection.com is a crowd sourced election monitoring platform created by faculty at the Harvard Kennedy School with support from LegiNation, Inc. and a group of dedicated citizens. It enables voters to take an active role in monitoring their polling places and in improving the quality of elections and ballot access in the United States. To …
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Today is Internet Voter Registration Day

09.25.12

  Every American who cares about the free and open Internet needs to be ready to vote this November. If you want to have your voice heard this election, you need to register by Tuesday in most states. To do so, please go InternetVotes.org and register yourself. If you’re already registered, you can help spread …
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What do we care about?

09.24.12

Perhaps you saw the Stephen Colbert segment about his Super PAC word clouds.  Drawing inspiration from that idea, I made a word cloud (thank you wordle) of the top words in all bills, state and federal, for 2011-2012.  Take a look: Let’s compare that to bills passed: Pretty similar, with Health and Education slightly larger, …
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How Purple Are We?

09.16.12

This time of year we hear a lot about swing states.  But every state is made up of both parties.  I thought it would be interesting to look at the distribution of legislators, partisan bills, and especially bipartisan bills. Let’s start with the distribution of legislators.  You might expect the count of legislators to be …
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Comparing state legislatures by counting bills

08.28.12

On our home page we have a heat map of bills introduced in each state for 2011-2012, which is updated every night.  It looks like this:   Which is interesting.  Hawaii for example, has a surprisingly high number of bills.  As does Texas, when you factor in that they only meet every other year, as opposed to …
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Declaration of Internet Freedom

07.02.12

  (click read more for graphic)   We believe that a free and open Internet can bring about a better world. But to keep the Internet free and open, we must promote these principles in every country, every industry and every community. And we believe that these freedoms will bring about more creativity, more innovation …
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Personal Democracy Forum 2012

05.27.12

Sometimes, things just work out.  This is one such story.  First, some background: According to their website, Personal Democracy Forum (PdF) is “the world’s leading conference exploring and analyzing technology’s impact on politics and government”.  The PdF was started back in 2004 by Andrew Rasiej and co-Founder Micah Sifry, and has had quite a history of speakers and ideas.  It was …
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“Peace Corps for Geeks”

05.10.12

I saw Jennifer Pahlka speak at SxSW about Code for America, which she founded in 2009. Here’s anther of her talks, this one for TED, which is well worth watching: http://www.ted.com/talks/view/lang///id/1381 She got me pretty excited about her ideas. She argued that the government should work more like the internet — permissionless, open, generative. Government as …
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What it’s all about

04.25.12

Each week we will examine several hot topics that are in the news, from political campaigns, or interesting to us. We will explain both sides of the issue and tie it to the current legislative landscape to show what’s currently going on across the country. If after looking at the relevant bills you are moved …
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