Archive for December, 2007

New Feature: Photosynthesis

Monday, December 31st, 2007

We’re excited to announce a new Richmond Sunlight feature: Photosynthesis, a personal bill-tracking system. Photosynthesis makes it a snap to track the bills that interest you, providing you with a custom RSS feed and a personal web page to see their progress. Your portfolio of bills is listed publicly (under your first name and last name initial and, if provided, your organization’s name) at a unique URL, making it a snap to spread the word about what’s important to you. (See my portfolio as an example.) Individuals might use this to inform friends, family, or even blog readers about legislation they should keep an eye on, while organizations could use it to give members an always-up-to-date web page listing legislation relevant to the group’s mission. A quick, free, painless registration with Richmond Sunlight is necessary to sign up — it only takes about thirty seconds.

This is just the first component of Photosynthesis. The next portion, which we’ll roll out shortly, is a professional version suitable for lobbyists, legislative aides and legislators.

Prefiled Bills Are Rolling In

Monday, December 17th, 2007

The first prefiled bills — those bills filed before the session begins — started rolling in a month ago now. But legislators are just now hitting their stride, with 66 of the 187 bills having been filed in the past two working days alone. Some themes have emerged, as you can see in this graph of bill topics (or “tag cloud,” as it’s known):

Of course, they’re just getting warmed up. When all’s said and done, somewhere around 3,500 bills are likely to be filed. You can keep up with them all on our bills page or, if you prefer, just choose the tag of your choice from the above list and bookmark that page — new bills on that topic will appear as they’re filed.

Developing Legislator Bios

Sunday, December 9th, 2007

One of dozens of projects nominally underway here at Richmond Sunlight is establishing brief biographical sketches of each legislator. Sitting down and hammering out 140 bios just isn’t in the cards, but we’re writing them up for all of the newly-elected legislators as we add them to the system. (For examples, see Del. Don Merricks (R-Danville) or Sen. Don McEachin (D-Richmond).) Because very few legislators have such bios on the site, we’d certainly welcome submissions of them, whether from legislators, their staffs, or anybody who’s interested in taking the time to write 20-100 words about a senator or a delegate. Do us a favor and stick with the existing format — naming employment, political history, education, family, and any unusual biographical highlights — if you’re writing one, and e-mail it to us. Thanks!

New Session Refresh Underway

Saturday, December 8th, 2007

The process of updating the site to reflect the still-unfolding changes in legislators is ongoing. Both outgoing and incoming legislators will be listed now through the first day of the session, at which time the list will be updated to exclude all those who will have, by then, formally ceased to be in office. The leadership is still being determined, with committee assignments still being determined. Again, that will be settled by the time things get underway in three weeks’ time, which is when those positions will be updated.