Getting Started with BillTrack50

09.24.16

BillTrack50.com is a website for researching and sharing state and federal legislation. You can search for relevant bills, share them in various ways, and set up alerts to find out when new bills of interest are introduced. Searching and reading bills is free; saving searches and setting up alerts requires a subscription. Setting up your …
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Fresh Water, From a Lawmaker’s Perspective

09.19.16

Water, water, every where, Nor any drop to drink. —The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Samuel Colridge Water is an increasingly scarce resource, and is an issue all states will need to grapple with. There are a multitude of bills focused on energy and water efficiency and conservation, such as US S2012, the Energy Policy …
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Marijuana, coming to an election near you.

09.07.16

Marijuana. Where have we gone in the last four years since Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana for recreational and medicinal purposes? Why do people believe in the legalization of marijuana? How has this legalization benefited or hurt society? What actions have other states and the federal government taken pertaining to this issue? Let’s find out! Basics of Marijuana …
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RNC vs. DNC – The Big Showdown

08.24.16

The last two weeks of July in 2016 were full of grand entrances ahead of schedule, appearances from many Trump children, semi-plagiarized speeches, more celebrities than we can count, pocket-sized US Constitutions, all the feels for Michelle’s speech and a tribute to the suffragettes. Between the eight jam-packed days of coverage, what were the most talked about …
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Structuring a Bill for Maximum Engagement

08.23.16

I encountered Michigan’s HB 5366  when I was researching a post on hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”). This bill is a moratorium on new fracking permits for high volume fracking until several issues are resolved around water, the public’s right to know, setbacks, and related issues. The individual issues that need to be solved are broken out …
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How Collaborative Is Your State?

08.19.16

For a state to create a new law, a bill proposing the idea must be introduced by a legislator. The idea may or may not have originated with that particular legislator, but the legislator will need to officially “sponsor” it. A bill can have just one sponsor, or multiple sponsors. Intuitively you would expect more sponsors would …
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State Gun Legislation and School Shootings

08.05.16

This is a guest post from Jacqueline Higgins with MSW@USC After a tragic shooting at UCLA left both a professor and the gunman dead this past June, national attention has once again turned to the issue of gun control on school campuses. Though President Obama led a major legislative push to prevent gun violence in schools …
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Immigration – What is our Duty?

07.27.16

42.2 million – the number of people in the United States in 2014 who were  classified as immigrants. From the first indigenous people crossing the ice bridge to North America to European expansion to now with people from all over the world, the US has always been a land of immigration. There have been policies and acts throughout …
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The Right of Freedom of Religion or Freedom from Discrimination?

07.15.16

Religious freedom vs. anti discrimination is a tug of war that has engulfed our lives through social movements and the media since the 1960s beginning with feminism, racism and gay rights. Since then, there have been countless moves forward in an attempt to understand where the line lies between giving people their religious freedom and protecting different classes of people from …
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Where Did My Archived Bill Sheet Go?

07.13.16

Last year we added the ability to archive bill sheets. This feature is available on the manage tab and lets you freeze a bill sheet, so no bills get added or removed automatically. You might want to freeze a bill sheet if you’d like to keep a record of your old bills and comments as …
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BillTrack50 API 2.0 for Retrieving Your Bills and Comments and Scores

07.07.16

I’m sure you love our maps and widgets, stakeholder pages and scorecards as much as we do. But perhaps you’d like to build your own custom display, especially of scorecard data. We’re happy to announce with our new API 2.0. In addition to our web application, BillTrack50 allows remote access to data to subscribing members through …
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New Vote Breakdown Political Eye Candy

07.06.16

Wouldn’t it be great to have a snazzy graphic for each and every vote a state legislature takes, so you can quickly assess what’s just gone down? Well dream no more! We have added a new vote summary graphic to our vote detail window. Here’s how it works. When you look a bill on BillTrack50 …
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Wanted: A Pulse and a Pell

07.06.16

“A Pulse and a Pell” is the goal of Education Management Corporation (or EDMC) according to attorney Harry Litman. For those of you who don’t know, “a Pell” refers to the Pell Grant scholarship from the federal government given to many citizens to pay for part of college. For-Profit colleges have been experiencing a massive wave …
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The War on Drugs: America’s Number One Public Enemy.

06.24.16

Of all of the initiatives in history, few have been analyzed and criticized as much as the war on drugs. Throughout history, motives, means and viability of this “war” have been called into question as to the true value of this war for citizens of the United States and the world. Policy has changed throughout …
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Living Wage or Minimum Wage? Profits or People?

06.14.16

Minimum wage has been a topic gaining traction over the last several years, with campaigns like the Fight for $15 helping create awareness. Proponents of raising the minimum wage say it needs to be a livable wage (a wage high enough to maintain a normal standard of living), which many of the current minimum wages are not. …
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New Custom Column Functionality – More, More, and Better

06.12.16

When reviewing a bill, you may find you’d like to make some notes for yourself, or add some comments you’d like to share with others. BillTrack50 allows you to make both private and public comments on your bill sheets by adding columns via our template manager. Based on customer comments and requests, we’ve just expanded this functionality substantially. …
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Time Outlasting Crimes? Is Felony Disenfranchisement Fair?

06.03.16

We all know the classic saying “you do the crime, you do the time”, but what happens when you do your time and continue paying for the crime the rest of your life? Many states throughout the US have rules and regulations pertaining to many different aspects of “normal” life that impact convicted felons’ abilities …
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Prostitution – Good Fun or Modern Day Slavery?

05.17.16

Prostitution is often referred to as a victimless crime, which makes legalizing it sound perfectly reasonable. But you can’t discuss prostitution without acknowledging its relationship to human trafficking, which is a worldwide epidemic. During the last two years, 14,226 victims have been rescued from trafficking and sexual exploitation for prostitution. Throughout the world, countries are coming together …
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The driverless future, coming soon to a car near you.

05.13.16

Self-driving cars are often associated with futuristic movies like iRobot, the Minority Report, Total Recall and Demolition Man. Recently, the reality of having autonomous vehicles on our roads has become more and more feasible with research and implementation like Google’s self-driving car project. Since the beginning of 2012, 17 states and the District of Columbia have …
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Oil and Gas Legislation in 2016

05.09.16

Introduction and Background Fossil fuel is an ever more contentious topic. Changing technology has revolutionized production, but at what cost to our health and environment? The states must find a way to balance the risks and rewards of oil and gas development in general, and hydraulic fracturing in particular. This blog post will look at …
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