With the start of 2013, everyone has different views of what the new year will bring. To some it is the hope of something better, but for lobbyists, the New Year ushers in new concerns and the challenges of working in another legislative session. 2013 is a year when all the states and federal government will have sitting sessions with legislators. More than 150,000 pieces of legislation will be proposed across the country at the state and federal level. That is a huge amount of information for lobbyists to monitor if they cover multiple states. And even in a single state, lobbyists will have to keep up with between 500 and 28,000 pieces of legislation.
The start of the New Year is also a time when states try to update their general assembly websites and bill publishing tools. For some states this means a complete overhaul of the system, changing the way you have to search for information and where things can be found. Lobbyists now have to spend more time to familiarize themselves with the state website just to find information that used to be easy to track down.
The volume of information combined with changes to where that information might be, makes a strong case for using third party legislative tracking software. Part of the job of a third party tracking system is to normalize the data from each state, so that you can quickly find the legislation you are interested in and disseminate it to others. In the Capitol Impact environment, we feed in data from all 50 states, that means more than 150,000 pieces of state legislation and federal data is normalized into the same format across all states. This way, if you are looking for legislation you follow the same steps year after year, find bills mark the ones you wish to track and enable your audience to view the legislation.
The normalization process serves three core advantages for our clients. First, when the state site is down, we have a copy of the data from the day before so that you still have access to all your legislation when the state is having issues. Second, because we make a normalized copy of the data, we can do more with it for you. We can help you publish legislation, allow readers from your audience to make comments on the data, and let you email information to people in your immediate circle. For professional lobbying firms, the creation of our own normalized database lets them create a separate universe of bills for each client, and allow the clients to log in and only see the bills being tracked for them. For government agencies, the normalized data gives us the ability to close the system to only agency staff and let the lobbyist for the agency assign bills to the departments focusing people on bills where their expertise will best serve to help deal with new legislation. And the third advantage to the normalization process is that lobbyists can access data in different states using the same process.
As the New Year begins, the lobby slate is clean, but it gets messy very quickly as new bills are introduced in each state. Lobbyists get rapidly inundated with information. If you want to stay ahead of the issue of managing and communicating bills in a consistent format, communicating better with the folks who help you shape your response and enabling them to share their thoughts with online tools, please contact us at Capitol Impact. Let 2013 be the year you take some stress out of being a lobbyist.