Automatic for the People

The TN State legislature debuted a new website today. The CA has the story.

I haven’t had the chance to check it out fully, but if it does all that it says it does it’s a huge boon for the people of Tennessee and the cause of transparency in general.

One of my chief complaints over the past two sessions is the difficulty in tracking the “real” bills and the bills that will never see the light of day. Under the old site, you could search a topic and come up with more bills than could ever be considered. Maybe now we’ll see something that makes the process a little easier.

Perhaps the best improvement is the prospect of setting up a personalized rss feed for bills or subjects that are of personal interest. If this actually works its good stuff, a great tool for bloggers, activists and concerned citizens alike.

One of the best things about it is the ability to make lists of interests. These lists populate the three rss feeds that users can customize. Each list can have multiple keywords or subjects. You can set up a local feed (select your city and county and surrounding counties) or a budgeting feed (budget and appropriations) of any number of personalized feeds.

It’s also easier to see the bills that your legislators have sponsored or their voting record.

All in all, this is a positive step for the state. I’m looking forward to seeing it in action. Tomorrow is the first organizational session, according to the House Schedule. Streaming video support for sessions should be pretty interesting too. Mac people may need the Flip 4 Mac plugin to view the WMV streams in Safari (the free one should work, but I’ll know more tomorrow).

I’ll report my experience with the site throughout the session. This could make my life a lot easier, particularly considering my stupid travel schedule. Can’t wait to watch TN-Span.

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