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Sunday, December 27, 2015

Tracing the Impact of Model Legislation

Fast Company reports:
A prototype tool, presented in September at Bloomberg’s Data for Good Exchange 2015 conference, mines the Sunlight Foundation’s database of more than 500,000 bills and 200,000 resolutions for the 50 states from 2007 to 2015. It also compares them to 1,500 pieces of "model legislation" written by a few lobbying groups that made their work available, such as the conservative group ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) and the liberal group the State Innovation Exchange(formerly called ALICE).

The results are interesting. In one example of the program in use, the team—all from the Data Science for Social Good fellowship program in Chicago—created a graphic (above) that presents the relative influence of ALEC and ALICE in different states. The thickness of each line in the graphic correlates to the percentage of bills introduced in each state that are modeled on either group’s legislation. So a relatively liberal state like New York is mostly ALICE bills, while a "swing" state like Illinois has a lot from both groups.
The state legislation tracker data is available for download here, and the team is working on an expanded system that automatically downloads new state legislation so it can stay up to date