Legislative Data Becoming More Widely Available Online

Many states have started posting detailed legislative data on the web making state legislatures and their actions more transparent.  In the past week, Maryland Senate President Thomas V. "Mike" Miller Jr. and House Speaker Michael E. Busch have announced that Maryland legislative committee level votes will be posted online within a few days after they are cast, and before the bills have made it to the floor for a final vote.  Until now, this information was published in journals long after the final votes had occurred. Maryland is following several other states in making committee level votes readily available to the public.  The California State Senate and the State Assembly, for example, have put a downloadable file of legislative data (including committee and floor votes) online.  As a result, developers can transfer this data to their local computers with a file transfer protocol (FTP) tool to create searchable databases of the information.

The Virginia legislature has also put its data online in a searchable database; once the desired information is located it can be viewed online or downloaded in .CSV or .PDF formats.  Upon request, the entire database is available for download as well.