Good Government Groups Hail Legislative Research Center
New website includes advanced search capability and an improved calendar/agenda for public events
City Hall – Today, the New York City Council launched a new web-based legislative research tool designed to meet the ever-increasing demand for open access to public records. The new additions to the Council website include a new search engine, a complete legislative history for Council Members and a new meeting and event calendar.
The enhanced features, which can be found at http://legistar.council.nyc.gov, will allow more New Yorkers to be engaged with their local government by increasing access to committee hearings, public testimony and other legislative actions.
“Everyday, technology makes it easier to get information out to more people,” said Speaker Christine C. Quinn, “which means that we in government have an even greater responsibility to make that information open and accessible. With the new search functions and event calendar, this new site will put the people’s branch of City government just a click away.”
“The launch of this site marks the first time that New Yorkers will be able to easily follow the entire City Council legislative process for any issue,” said Technology in Government Committee Chair Gale A. Brewer. “Researchers, students and the public will be able to access the extensive briefing documents that are prepared by Council staff for every committee meeting. This is a major step forward in utilizing technology to foster transparency and civic engagement.”
The Legislative Research Center allows for comprehensive searches of all types of legislation, including resolutions, introductions and local laws. Users will be able to compile specific searches to look up a member’s legislative history or the history of a given bill. Searches can be conducted by bill number, date, sponsor, subject matter, key words or a combination of criteria. Users will also be able to view attachments associated with the legislation, including committee reports, hearing transcripts, hearing testimony, fiscal impact statements and voting records.
Some additional features include:
· Advance Legislative Search – With the new power search, users will be able to select from multiple selections allowing them to refine their searches to find exactly what they are looking for. A few of the many options include Council Member sponsor, committee, date creation, action by Council and type – whether local law, a resolution or an introduction – among other selections;
· Exporting Records to Personal Computers – After a user creates their search, they will now be able to export the findings to their computer as a PDF, spreadsheet or a word processing document;
· E-gendas – Committee hearing agendas will now uploaded to the site for users to view and download;
· Faster Legislative and Calendar Updates – Before the launch, updates to the hearing calendar and legislative changes took up to 24 hours. Now with the new Legislative Research Center software, information will be available faster and more efficiently than ever before;
· Comprehensive Legislation List – Constituents will now be able to see a complete list of all legislation introduced by their Council Member and a list of all legislation for each Council Committee. A tab labeled “Legislation” on each member profile will showcase the bills each Council Member has sponsored or co-sponsored. On the Committee page, the Legislation tab will serve as a tool to showcase past and present bills the Committee has taken up and the history of those bills.
“The new City Council website is a welcomed improvement that makes the website much easier to navigate and allows New Yorkers to stay abreast of and participate in what is happening in the Council,” said Dick Dadey, Executive Director of Citizens Union. “It increases transparency of Council operations by making committee schedules available online and gives users the ability to track important Council legislation. These improvements are a refreshing change that we hope New Yorkers will take advantage of to stay current about what is happening in their local government.”
“The Council’s improved website opens up a world of new information on legislation to the public,” said Gene Russianoff, senior attorney for the New York Public Interest Research Group.
“With this website revision, City residents will now be able to easily access committee agendas and minutes through the Internet, check on the status of specific legislation, and see how their council member voted on the bills they care about,” said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY. “Clear and easy to use features on the Council website provide an unprecedented level of transparency for New York City. We commend the Council and the Speaker for a significant improvement in the type and amount of information about legislation and committee work provided through the Council’s website.