The free resource pulls in legislation, so journalists can easily track and monitor legislation in one spot, which is particularly helpful to those having to report on multiple states, says James Turk, founder and principal architect for Open States.
The Open States team recently added a couple of new features to the site, which made tracking for coronavirus news easier. The features include a full text search, so they could specifically search and pull in bills and legislation that mention coronavirus or COVID-19 directly in them. Another feature allows journalists to sign up to receive updates on bills they wish to follow and find out when new legislation has passed. Funding from the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute helped Turk and his team develop and roll out the new features.
With so much uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus and the future, the Open States team wanted to help answer reporters’ questions, at least from the state level, says Turk.
“I think the hope is that anyone trying to track what’s happening in state legislatures, what various provisions are being introduced and things like that, at least in the states where the legislature is still somewhat active… the hope is that this will be a jumping off point where they can do further research,” says Turk. “This is a quick overview and it lets them see ‘Alright, XYZ legislation has been introduced and where is that now?’