OpenStates, one of the greatest government transparency initiatives in the US has teamed up with the Open Media Foundation. The Open Media Foundation has recently signed a Fiscal Sponsorship agreement to include the Open States project under our 501(C)(3).
Open States is a collection of tools aggregating legislative data from all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. Open States was a project of the Sunlight Foundation from 2009-2016, when Sunlight terminated their Sunlight Labs initiatives. OMF followed the process closely due to the overlap and integration we have built between Open States and our Open Media Project Initiative. OMF has been working on integrating Open State’s detailed voting history with our government video archiving, transcription, and sharing tools (see a prototype of this integration here). In October of 2016, Sunlight handed the project over to a group of volunteers and former Sunlight staffers as an independently-run project headed by James Turk. Two months later this new team signed a Fiscal Sponsorship agreement to bring the project under the 501(C)(3) backing of the Open Media Foundation.
OMF has high hopes for the Open States Project, but first among these is to help ensure the stability and long-term sustainability of the project in its current form. The current version is a powerful transparency tool, enabling you to enter a U.S. address or state and view bills and voting records, contact elected officials and more. Check out this Sunlight Academy tutorial to see how Open States can help citizens, journalists and activists learn more about their state government.
In the future, we hope to help all 50 states (plus DC & PR) integrate Open States data into their websites, transparency portals, and public affairs networks. This means that in addition to seeing voting data, citizens could easily access debate on bills, testimony provided, and video segments where each bill was discussed. These features could be integrated into future iterations of openstates.org or onto government websites themselves, such as this prototype from the Colorado State Legislature, completed as part of the Knight Prototype Fund.