In chambers, the Reading Calendar was a chalk board. Two 2X4s were nailed together to provide a stand with enough height for staff to write the bills on the board. Circling a bill meant literally circling it with chalk. Whenever we changed the calendar it would take half an hour to physically erase and rewrite the board. For staff, chalkboard skills were imperative.
Copies of bills were kept in big binders on our desks. Citizens tracked legislation by traveling to the State Capitol in person, reading the board, and visiting the Bill Room for hard copies of the latest version. It was difficult for legislators to track everything. For citizens it was nearly impossible. Following along was a full-time job.
Today, all the info is available for everyone with enough interest to look. Decisions we make are viewed, listened to, tweeted, and re-tweeted in near-real time. They are Facebooked, Pinterested, YouTubed and blogged the same day. The old logistical limitations of time and distance have largely melted away.
Citizens have an unprecedented opportunity to be informed.
As you probably remember, we updated our live-stream capabilities last year and found serious compatibility issues between our shop and our new live-stream partner. Speaker Lockhart and I asked staff to fix it. They did. We now have a new web site at http://le.utah.gov.
Take a look.
We restored most of the old functionality, reorganized the data, and added some new features. It's not perfect yet, but it's a long walk in the right direction.
You can help. If you see anything amiss, please make a note in the lower, right-hand corner of the page and hit 'Send'. Some suggestions can be implemented quickly. Some might take more time and be considered for future editions of the site. If you note what device you are using when you see an error, we can fix it more easily. If you leave your name, staff can respond to you personally.
Launching the site now allows us to troubleshoot it through two interim days (October and November) before session begins.
The old site will not be maintained but will be available for reference for a month or two, possibly through session.
Thank you for all you do to exercise your rights and responsibilities. Hopefully, the new website will help.
P.S. A new site doesn't happen by magic (although sometimes a little magic is involved). This was a complex project and the following staff played key roles:
Jonathan Higley (of Utah Interactive)
In addition, an extended support team of legislators, staff, the IT Steering Committee, and citizens provided valuable encouragement and insight. Thank you to all that were involved and continue to be involved. Moving forward, a web team consisting of representatives from each of the five legislative offices will help keep the site up to date.