Editor's Note

The FOI Advocate is a compendium of ideas, edited story excerpts and other materials from a variety of Web sites, as well as original concepts and analysis. When the information comes directly from another source, it will be attributed and a link will be provided whenever possible. The blog relies on the accuracy and integrity of the original sources cited. We will correct errors and inaccuracies when we become aware of them.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Groups win access to Calif. lawmakers database

The California First Amendment Coalition and MAPLight.org won access to a machine-readable state lawmakers database in its settlement with the Office of Legislative Counsel of California, the California Chronicle reported. The previous form of the database hindered analysis. After the lawsuit was filed, the Office of Legislative Counsel unrolled a "structured database" on its Web site, which can be downloaded by anyone at www.leginfo.ca.gov. MAPLight.org plans to use the structured database to create MAPLight.org California, which will "combine all money given to members of the California state legislature with how each politician votes on every bill, revealing patterns of money and influence never before possible to see."
The California First Amendment Coalition (CFAC) and MAPLight.org, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research organization that shows the connection between money and politics, announce today that they have settled their freedom of information lawsuit against the Office of Legislative Counsel of California, having gained the object of their suit: a machine-readable database of how state lawmakers vote.

"It shouldn't take a lawsuit for the government to realize its data belongs to the people," said Daniel Newman, MAPLight.org's executive director. "In this new era of highlighting transparency, we hope this settlement serves as an example to city and state governments across the country to provide public access to public information."

California Legislative data, including how lawmakers vote, legislation in progress, and laws, was previously available to the public only in a plain-text format on the California Legislative Information website. That data was suitable for viewing and printing, but only allowed access to Legislative data at a rate of one bill at a time, making analysis lengthy and cumbersome.
More here.

No comments: