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New Database: “See Who’s Lobbying the California Legislature”

Via INFOdocket

From California Watch:

California interest groups have filed nearly 7,000 reports in the first half of 2011 disclosing what bills and issues they have lobbied in state government. We’ve taken those forms and created a one-of-a-kind database that allows you to search who is lobbying any bill before the Legislature.

Simply type a bill number into the system and get a list of all the interests that declared an intent to lobby that bill on their Form 635s [PDF].

There are a few important caveats to keep in mind.

In order to extract the individual bills from the filings, California Watch relied on human data entry workers — a necessity, given the varied, unstructured nature of the filings. Anytime human beings perform large-scale data entry, some errors are inevitable. We took a statistically significant sample of our data entry results and found that between 2 and 7 percent of the records in the database likely had some kind of problem caused by human error: mostly typos and omissions.

We fixed the most obvious issues, but the point remains: Don’t look at these results as gospel. Each result returned by our database also includes a link to the original reports, so if something looks out of place, by all means verify it.

Read Additional Caveats and Access the Database Here

See Also: More California Watch Online Databases

DOJ Foreign lobbyists database

According to the NY Times, the US Department of Justice has just released their Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) database. The Foreign Agents Registration Act (22 USC 611) requires people who are under foreign control to register with the Department of Justice before swaying public opinion.

The Sunlight Foundation has some evaluation of the database. FARA would like feedback so please try it out and let them know what you think of the database.

Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) was enacted in 1938. FARA is a disclosure statute that requires persons acting as agents of foreign principals in a political or quasi-political capacity to make periodic public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal, as well as activities, receipts and disbursements in support of those activities.

BPE 2007 – It’s not about you – Jeff Hatch-Miller

We had a double keynote at Best Practices Exchange 2007: Former legislator and current Arizona Corporation Commissioner Jeff Hatch-Miller and Internet Archive Founder Brewster Kahle.

Both gave such good presentations that they deserve separate blog entries. This is Jeff’s.

Jeff Hatch-Miller was an engaging speaker who was invited to help us figure out to build support for our various state initiatives. His experience as a legislator provided an insider’s perspective. His talk centered on three themes:

  1. Getting noticed – in a good way
  2. Getting Legislative attention
  3. Getting into the “recommended budget”

My notes aren’t complete enough for a section-by-section recitation of Jeff’s points, so here are some impressions:

Jeff started his talk by reading us mission statements from three organizations. He wanted us to pick out the one that best described “who they are and what they do.” The only one that stuck with me was the one chosen by the audience “At Sheldon Clinic, we give people back the use of their hands.” Jeff told us that we have to be that clear about who we are and what we do because there are MANY agencies and organizations doing quite good work competing for legislative time and attention.

Another statement that really resonated with me and the rest of the group was Jeff’s statement (paraphrased) – “It’s not about you. People give to you because you MEET needs, not because you have them.” He also said it was more important to communicate the “why” rather than the “what”. Funding is about relationships, which you need to build while being subtle.

A major tip for getting favorable attention is relating yourself to K-12 education. How can your collections relate to k-12? Are there stories about students and teachers using your resources and services that you can pass along to your funding authority?

Programs tend to be part of yearly recommended budgets if they have constitutional or statutory authority behind them. Some funding efforts can take years. It’s important to visit legislators in their home districts for relationship building, which is hard to do in the pressure cooker of a legislative session.

Finally, never ever burn bridges. Your enemy today maybe the ally you need tomorrow.

If you are organizaing a conference that needs a speaker to talk about raising money from legislative bodies, I highly recommend Commissioner Jeff Hatch-Miller. He can be reached through his web page at http://www.azcc.gov/commissioners/hatch-miller/index.htm.