Montana Chambers Launch Tool to Help You Keep Tabs on Legislature’s Work
With the preliminaries out of the way, Montana lawmakers have been getting down to business in Helena, introducing their initial bills and starting to jockey for positions. Many of those bills can affect businesses, and individuals directly.
That's where some of the Chambers of Commerce in Montana are pitching in, launching a new combined effort to help not only member businesses but individuals and groups, track legislation they may be concerned about in the coming weeks.
The Missoula Chamber of Commerce announced this week that it's part of a group of half-a-dozen Chambers of Commerce from around the state who are deploying a new tool to help the "right to know". The other Chambers involved in the cooperative effort are Helena, Big Sky, Kalispell, Great Falls, and the Montana Chamber of Commerce.
Using an open software tool known as the Council Data Project, journalists, activists, researchers, and community members can keep appraised on legislation and help hold lawmakers accountable to their constituents.
“We take our Right to Know seriously, and this tool will make it much easier for citizens and businesses to understand what’s happening in the legislature and to advocate for their interest," Kim Latreille, President/CEO of the Missoula Area Chamber of Commerce said in a prepared statement.
Through the Open Montana Project, the software will help transcribe some 9,000 hours worth of video expected to be produced during the session, and make all of those searchable and ranked "by relevance." That will allow people to be able to jump to different segments of the video they want to see, and share links to that video with others, using an interface familiar to anyone who has used Google to search the web.
The information will then be synced with Capitol Tracker, which is the state's system to track bills throughout the session. That session is comprehensive. But the challenge has been linking the data from the tracker with the comments and discussions made during the Legislature's hearings and deliberations.
Here's the direct link to the tool if you'd like to use it for yourself.