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Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Ind. Gov't. - Still more on: New Indiana General Assembly website

Updating this ILB post from Nov. 19, 2013, and this one from Dec. 16, 2013, here are my initial reactions to the new bill access system.

Where to start? Perhaps with what the General Assembly website has done best in the past, make readily accessible and useable the bills of each session.

Although the ILB has had issues over the years with the online unofficial version of the Indiana Code (more about that on Dec. 16th and in an upcoming post), it has always praised the bill access service. Once acclaimed, however, this service is now not just a disappointment, but a disaster.

And it is not just me. An aggrieved reader writes:

I've told you over the years that I really liked the availability, accessibility, usefulness, and intuitiveness of the old website . . . but they have effectively destroyed each of those elements, and it has made my job more difficult.
First, it is sloooow, and much doesn't work. Try listing bills by subject ... It took me some time to pull up that option (Legislation > By Subject), and then when I selected "environment," it simply didn't work, it simply kicked me back to the main list. Same with "elections". In contrast, here is what I could quickly pull up in 2013. (BTW, I don't know how long these back pages will be available, but they are historically invaluable. Already, it appears some links have been broken, access seems to be spotty.)

Next, I tried Legislation > Bills. I got a list of all the introduced Senate bills, no House bills. Click on SB 3, for example. Admittedly, the page is laid out cleaner than the way it was in the past - SB 3 from 2013.

One can link to this 2014 SB 3 page the same way you always have, by copying the link from the browser window. Or you can use the new "share on social media" and "permanent URL" buttons for the same result. The RSS tool doesn't seem to work.

Unfortunately, however, that appears to be the extent of the linking ability. You can't link to a specific version of 2014 SB 3, or, it seems, to any of the other documents on the page. All it appears you can do is link to the main ("index") page for 2014 SB 3.

Now let's look at the introduced version of 2013 SB 3 - Here it is, quickly pulled up from the 2013 index page in PDF form, and in HTML form.

No HTML versions are available in the new system. Worse, the PDF versions are virtually generated, meaning they are very difficult to use. To see what I mean, try copying from 2014 SB 3. Cutting and pasting is cumbersome.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 7, 2014 01:25 PM
Posted to Indiana Government