September 01, 2004

Cornucopia of State Legislative RSS Feeds

The National Association of Legislative Information Technology (NALIT) will be sharing "Web Tips, Tricks and Techniques" for building Legislative RSS feeds at their 2004 Professional Development Seminar in beautiful Burlington, Vermont, September 8-11, 2004. Panelists include key IT players from Virginia, Nevada, and Utah. Several states are now using RSS to provide users with notices of new Web content or to distribute newsletters. At least two states are now generating legislative feeds directly from databases. This article previews some of what they'll be showing from the states of Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, and Rhode Island.

NALIT is the IT working group of the National Conference of State Legislatures. The recent annual meeting, July 19-23, 2004 in Salt Lake City, was hosted locally by Mark Allred and his IT staff from the Utah Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel. Marty Stephens , Speaker of the Utah House of Representatives and President of the National Conference of State Legislatures, presided. Linda Pittsford, Manager of the Texas Legislative Council Computer Center, gave a presentation introducing "Leveraging RSS Technology" for searching news.

This time around panelists Sharon Crouch Steidel, Director of Information Systems, House of Delegates, Virginia and Andy Harvey, Webmaster and Internet Services Administrator of the Nevada Legislative Counsel Bureau, will examine how to make news available via syndication, which RSS format to choose, and other tips and potential uses for RSS by legislatures.

Glen Johnson, Utah Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel, will then demonstrate how the Utah Legislature is using RSS. Glen has created a legislative news feed and Brooke Anderson, a programmer with the Legislative IT Staff, has tied into the Legislature's SQL database to provide RSS feeds for bill tracking and committee calendaring.


Brooke and Mark Allred recently received the Utah 2004 CIO Award for Digital Democracy from Governor Olene Walker for their "Online Tracking of Legislation" system. This utility made tracking the 693 bills and resolutions of the 2004 session a more managable task. The RSS syndication features have been added since the award.

The bill tracking facility now creates custom feeds for the bills of interest to the user. The feeds provides links to the bill text, sponsor, bill status, floor calendars, and relevant committee agendas and minutes.

The legislative committee watch list provides a check list allowing users to pick and choose committees of interest. For example, if you wanted to keep informed about interim committees in between legislative sessions, you could select just those, and it creates a custom feed linked to by the orange xml icon at the bottom of the page . The feed that you receive provides up-to-date links to agendas, minutes, and committee documents.

RSS innovations from other states that will be showcased at the NALIT seminar include:

Texas

The Texas Legislative Counsel has created RSS feeds for upcoming legislative calendars, committee meetings, schedules, and feeds for bill text, fiscal notes and analysis,

  • Upcoming House Calendars
  • Upcoming Senate Calendars
  • Upcoming House Committee Schedules
  • Upcoming Senate Committee Schedules
  • Today's Bill Text
  • Today's Fiscal Notes
  • Today's Bill Analyses


Rhode Island

Jim Willis, Director of eGovernment and Information Technology, Office of the Secretary of State has created a nifty open source do-it-yourself tool that visitors can use to "Build an RSS Feed link. It allows the media and public to subscribe to the latest bills and elections information via RSS feeds and provides the code and instructions for parsing the feeds to a web page if desired.

One of the options offered is to build dynamic legislation RSS feeds for the most frequently viewed bills. This generates a feed url that looks like:
retrieves the most frequently viewed appropriations bills.

Another facility uses PHP iCalender to generate bill calendar feeds when the legislature is in session. Feeds include:

  • Bills Calendar for the day
  • Bills Calendar for the week
  • Bills Calendar for the month
  • Bills Working Calendar for the day
  • Bills Working Calendar for the week
  • Bills Working Calendar for the month


Wisconsin

In June 2003, the Legislative Research Bureau, under the direction of Chief Stephen R. Miller, began offering syndicated RSS News Feeds on its Web site. The feeds provide legislators and members of the public with the means to get current information organized by category (eg. taxation or legislature) or by publication title (eg. Legislative Briefs).

Feeds for legislative publications and resources include:

Posted by Ray Matthews on September 01, 2004 at 07:52 PM | | Comments (0) | Send this story to a friend!

March 22, 2004

Publications by RSS - Wisconsin Shows How

The Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau (LRB) now has their publications syndicated as RSS channels. These publications are brief discussions about the Wisconsin government and the state legislature in particular, and public policy issues facing the legislature. The office also prepares the Wisconsin Blue Book, the almanac of Wisconsin government, and assists with decennial redistricting.

Steven R. Miller, Chief of the Bureau reports that at "Subscribe to LRB News Feeds" they now have RSS channels for eleven publication series and one for each of twenty-one subject areas. So for example, if you were interested in following State and Local Government in Wisconsin, you could learn about new briefs through the categoryRSS feed.

What a wonderful idea! Too bad more libraries don't offer RSS feeds for new acquisitions. Publishers, too, could follow the lead of the LRB and Amazon.com and offer specialized category feeds to alert potential customers of new offerings in subject matters of interest.

The Research and Information Services section of the LRB also responds to requests from legislators and from the public about legislation and government and they provide assistance with legislative history and research. While is common service in other states, few library staffs in the country can claim to provide a service like this of collecting and publishing answers to user queries. Wisconsin Briefs, for example, is a series of well-researched answers in PDF format to Frequently Asked Questions, and they are now syndicated using RSS.

Well done, Wisconsin!

Posted by Ray Matthews on March 22, 2004 at 04:16 PM | | Comments (0) | Send this story to a friend!

January 15, 2004

First Wisconsin RSS Feeds!

The Wisconsin Historical Society reports to Jenny Levine at the Shifted Librarian that they now offer three new Movable Type created RSS feeds. Web Development Coordinator James Ellis says these are the first such feeds to come from a public institution in the great State of Wisconsin. "I hope other state agencies will do this," Ellis said. "Maybe someday wisconsin.gov will have one big Wisconsin news page?one stop for what?s going on in the state." The feeds are created using Six Apart's Movable Type blogging software.

  • Wisconsin Historical Society News
  • Wisconsin Historical Society Features
  • Odd Wisconsin (quirky Wisconsin facts)


Read more: Wisconsin Technology Network News | The Capital Times

Posted by Ray Matthews on January 15, 2004 at 08:17 AM | | Comments (1) | Send this story to a friend!

First Wisconsin RSS Feeds!

The Wisconsin Historical Society reports to Jenny Levine at the Shifted Librarian that they now offer three new Movable Type created RSS feeds. Web Development Coordinator James Ellis says these are the first such feeds to come from a public institution in the great State of Wisconsin. "I hope other state agencies will do this," Ellis said. "Maybe someday wisconsin.gov will have one big Wisconsin news page?one stop for what?s going on in the state." The feeds are created using Six Apart's Movable Type blogging software.

  • Wisconsin Historical Society News
  • Wisconsin Historical Society Features
  • Odd Wisconsin (quirky Wisconsin facts)


Read more: Wisconsin Technology Network News | The Capital Times

Posted by Ray Matthews on January 15, 2004 at 08:17 AM | | Comments (1) | Send this story to a friend!