Tuesday, August 7, 2007

"25 Online Ideas Worth Stealing"

State Legislatures, the publication of the National Conference of State Legislatures, published a list of 25 internet-based ideas "worth stealing" from state legislatures across the country. It's a nod in acknowledging that legislative websites have "informed citizens, brought them closer to their government, provided new services, and made legislative processes more accessible and transparent." We couldn't agree more. Hawaii is listed as Idea #2 for allowing committee testimony by email and the assistance provided by the Public Access Room.

Comments welcomed on whether Hawaii should, as we say, cock-a-roach any of these ideas to make the legislative process more user-friendly. If you'd like the web address for any of these programs, let us know.

#1 from Minnesota. Property Tax and You. Webpage devoted to property tax, asking citizens to share their property tax stories and offer ideas for solutions.

#2 from Hawaii. Testimony by Email.

#3 from Arizona. Request to Speak in Committee. Citizens wishing to testify on a bill can sign up in advance online.

#4 from Nevada. Online Opinion Poll.

#5 from Utah. Blogging. This is the famed Senate Site from the Utah Senate Majority. (And very helpful to Hawaii when we started our own blog.)

#6 from Kentucky. Email Your Legislator. What's different is that a link is provided for a general "in-box" where messages are sorted and directed to the right legislator, and a link sending messages to "all" legislators.

#7 from Arizona, Search Those Archives, searchable video archives of floor actions and committee hearings; and from Utah, Hear the Debates, searchable audio clips for the same.

#8 from Vermont and Texas. Roll Call Votes. Vermont allows search of roll call votes by member name or by bill number. Texas provides roll call votes by various methods, such as bill number, date, bill text.

#9 from Nebraska. "I'm new here" guide. Informational guide to the legislature and process.

#10 from Florida. Online sunshine for kids.

#11 from West Virginia. Up to the minute RSS feeds. News releases, meeting schedules, tracking action on bills, etc.

#12 from Washington. Spanish language version. Did you know Spanish is the second most common language in Washington state? Not everything is available in Spanish, but there is a Spanish version of the homepage and television coverage of political debates.

#13 from Michigan. Load it on your PDA. Session schedules, calendar, committee bill records, and committee meetings in a small-screen viewing format.

#14 from Illinois and South Dakota. Personalized bill tracking. "My legislation" feature allows customized bill tracking.

#15 from Texas. Current amendment. Web page automatically updates as legislative activity occurs on the House floor, including a scanned image of the amendment or current bill being considered.

#16 from Virginia. Live help hotline. Clicking on the "Live help" button begins an internet chat session with a staff member who can respond to questions.

#17 from Wisconsin. Who represents me? Enter street address or use interactive district maps to figure out the names of your legislators.

#18 from North Carolina. Privacy policy.

#19 from Louisiana. Virtual Tour.

#20 from Missouri. Podcasts.

#21 from Pennsylvania. Legislation Archives. Dates back to the 1969-70 session.

#22 from South Carolina. Quick Search. Legislation, budget, Constitution, House and Senate Journals, bill summaries, all searchable from the home page.

#23 from California. Accessibility. Website compliance with the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

#24 from Idaho. Budget Process demystified, including fiscal facts and budget analyses.

#25 from New Jersey. Site Map and Easy Navigation. It's a loaded site, but navigation features make it user-friendly.


Anonymous said...

Would it be possible to sign up for hearing notice alerts? It seems I always either miss the hearing notice or hear about it at the last minute and have to scramble.

House Blog said...

Actually, you can already get hearing notices by email. Just go to the legislature's website at www.capitol.hawaii.gov and click on Bill Status and Documents. You'll see a place to sign up for hearing notices by email.