The Room Where It Happens

In an age of information abundance, we have to make choices of where to place our time, attention, and talents. Guided by media framing, our attention is often captivated, even isolated to, national politics instead of our home communities. From November to present day, we’ve been inundated from the top of the ticket – the national elections, the Georgia runoff, a potential government shutdown, imperiled relief efforts, and a raging global pandemic. However, behind all of these stories is the story of a nation of 50 parts.

Instead of looking for the overview, we shouldn’t be afraid to dig into the details and come to know and understand our states. Despite the national noise,  we cannot forget a central tenet of our political reality – politics are, fundamentally, local. It’s time to refocus.

Using FastDemocracy’s search tools, we know that since 2015, Congress has passed and presidents have signed 871 pieces of legislation. In the meantime, state legislatures have passed and governors have signed 100,296 pieces of legislation. State governments tax residents, build roads, fund schools, reform criminal justice systems, run elections and more. Each State legislature has between 60-400 members compared to 435 federal congressmen and 100 senators. If we compared their activity, state legislatures pass 115 times more legislation than the federal government.

From January to July, almost every state will gear up again to pass legislation against the same political backdrop as that of the federal government. If our attention remains focused at the top, we will miss the moving parts that make up our national fabric. To do that, we need to stay informed. That doesn’t have to be hard with a tool like FastDemocracy. Sign up, access your free account, and stay informed. We can choose to sharpen our focus and lead our political lives as we do our personal ones, closer to home.

 

State of Humor: What you can learn from your state government if you follow closely

It makes sense that there’s humor lurking behind the desk of government bureaucrats but I recently got a front row seat. Through FastDemocracy, I now get daily press clips from government agencies across multiple states. What have I learned so far? Birds are getting drunk in Missouri, I can adopt captive desert tortoises in Utah, Florida has (shockingly) found you should be drinking more orange juice, I could have should have, would have bought a bison in Wyoming, and there is a smart cat in South Carolina dedicated to teaching me to wash my paws properly.  

Let me explain. 

As a government relations professional, I need to follow state press releases. I can learn about the latest COVID-19 numbers and strategies and come to understand changes to state Supreme Courts and vital economic initiatives county by county. That said, I find it completely delightful when I can easily find what I need and find a reason to smile. Hence the reason I make sure my daily brief never misses the department of conservation and always includes a variety of state agencies. 

Check out two of my recent favorites below and sign up for FastDemocracy to get the inside scoop. 

INTOXICATED WILDLIFE, Missouri Department of Conservation 

The friendly little bird known as the cedar waxwing often gets drunk off fermented berries in the spring and tumble from their perches. Most are unharmed but they aren’t alone in their boozy escapades. Apparently wasps can also become tipsy when feeding on rotten fruit. How can I tell? According to the Missouri Department of Conservation the wasps will “buzz around on their backs for a few seconds while their rapid metabolism cleanses the alcohol from their systems.” I feel better informed already. 

South Carolina ETV announces new Smart Cat education initiative, South Carolina ETV Commission

I knew it. South Carolinians are tried and true cat people. As such, it should come as no surprise that they’ve found a way to help combat COVID-19 through a new cat animation dedicated to teaching young folks how to wash their hands. I’m not sure I needed to watch the whole video but I did and I’m better for it. Thank you South Carolina.

Heading into session? Here are 3 things you can do to get prepared.

Every year before the legislative session formally begins, there is a sense of urgency and apprehension. What will be the priorities? How will the parties fracture? Anyone who tells you they know exactly what to expect is absolutely lying. 

There is only one thing that truly helps keep the nerves at bay and your goals in sight. Being prepared. 

That’s not a cliche– it’s a warning, but it’s actually not as ominous as it sounds. In the world of politics, preparation comes down to making sure you’ve got the right players on your team firing on all cylinders. For some organizations, that might mean finding the right contract lobbyists. For those running point under the dome, this means doing as much work to coordinate with your team as possible. 

Here are three things you can do now to make sure you’re prepared for the start of legislative session

  1. Collaborate with your communications team. Using FastDemocracy, I make sure to have files shared under my known affirmative and know opposition bills as early as possible so that my communications team can independently create content related to legislative happenings, and, because we are on the same platform, I know that they are up to date with where the bill is in the process. 
  1. Coordinate with coalition lobbyists. I double check to make sure that all my bill lists on FastDemocracy are shared with my partners and prompt them for their feedback if needed. This way, I’ll have everything in one place for that quick meeting  with a legislator and be ready to pivot from one topic to the next in a blink without running to find my colleague or desperately searching through my email inbox. 
  1. Share with community supporters. Working in the nonprofit space, I can’t overstate the importance of coalitions. However, coordinating coalitions is time-consuming and time is never easy to come by. With FastDemocracy, I cut through the noise by sharing information in a widget on my webpage. That way supporters, donors, and coalition partners can subscribe and follow along rather than wait for my call. 

So get your tools ready. Fire up your bill tracker and talk to your people and know this– with the right team in place, working together, you can be the small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens ready to  change the world.

What’s Next?

What's Next?Despite lawsuits by the Trump administration, it should be abundantly clear that we are in a moment of transition to a new administration. Your vote took work and it mattered. For many, the post election phase feels like a moment to recover. For those that govern, the work has really just begun. 

Civil servants are stepping up to fill their roles. The incoming Biden administration has a vast team of individuals ready to implement their policy agenda. Elected officials across the country and across parties are doing the same. As a voter, I’m left to wonder– are we ready?

We elect officials to represent us. Elections are seen as inflection points, report cards for if an official is up to the task but what if we didn’t bottle up the power of the people and distill it to just a vote. What if instead, we flexed the people’s power year round and became part of the governing process? 

Elections do not equal representation– accountability does. 

We must transition from voters to organizers and become as invested in the political outcomes we seek as the politicians we support. 

I’m not sitting back after this election, I’m staying vigilant. Using FastDemocracy, I have the government at my fingertips.  I’ll be digging deep on legislative analytics as newly elected representatives take their seats. I’ll be combing through historic legislative data to pick up on where the hotspots of legislature are unresolved. Why? Because my vote isn’t my only power. I have the power to be informed. The power to organize my peers. The power to shape the governing process to reflect the will of the governed.

My first step is to log into FastDemocracy and set my priorities. My focus is simple– I want to be able to track legislation I care about, compare my issues with my elected’s voting record and, when there is a failure of alignment, I want to be ready in the wings to hold my elected official. I’ll be using FastDemocracy to tag the votes I care about, see where my representative landed, and follow up directly with their office. I’ll be telling my friends to do the same. We cannot passively wait for good governing to happen, we have to put the people back in the process. 

We campaign far too hard to let our elections run on a boom and bust cycle. My ability to be a changemaker rests on my understanding of government.  

This election Americans woke up to engage in unprecedented numbers. What’s next? Governing with unprecedented input. We owe it to ourselves to hold elected officials accountable. Let the work of governing begin.

Written by Sara Baker, Chief Innovation Officer at FastDemocracy

Our commitment to pursuing racial justice

Today on Juneteenth, we celebrate freedom and progress while recognizing there is still much work to be done. The senseless murders of George Floyd, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, and Michael Brown, Jr., among too many others, starkly demonstrates once again that our Black friends and neighbors have yet to achieve equality and justice. We can do better as a country and it starts with making sure all of our institutions are accountable. 

Our company is new. We are navigating our place and we are sure to make missteps along the way, but right now we know our role is to be an ally, to listen and learn, to raise up the voices of our BIPOC community, and to give what we have in pursuit of justice. 

In this moment, we are donating services to organizations that stand strong for racial justice. We are first committing to five organizations in our home state of Missouri to begin our work as allies. We stand with Black communities and we loudly and unequivocally state that Black lives matter.

In solidarity,

The FastDemocracy Team

FastDemocracy releases first round of analytics for the 2020 Missouri Legislative Session

The Missouri General Assembly wrapped up its 2020 legislative session on Friday, May 15. FastDemocracy is releasing our first round of legislative analysis focusing on floor votes taken during the legislative session.

The Missouri Senate took a total of 89 floor votes this session. Thirteen senators were present for all 84 votes. Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis missed the most votes with a total of 27 absences, or 30.3 percent. Sen. Jeanie Riddle, R-Mokane, had the most absences compared to other Republican senators. Riddle missed 18 votes, or 20.2 percent.

The House of Representatives took a total  of 146 floor votes during the 2020 legislative session. Twenty-seven representatives were present for all 146 votes. Rep. Noel Shull, R-Kansas City, racked up the most absences in the chamber, missing 142 votes, or 97.3 percent. Across the aisle, Bob Burns, D-Affton, missed more votes compared to other Democratic colleagues. Burns missed 72 votes, or 49.3 percent.

Complete data on 2020 individual legislator voting records can be found in the tables below.

Click here to look up who your state representative and senator are and to learn more about their legislative voting records.

 

Vote Counts for Missouri Senate 2020 Legislative Session*

Last NameFirst NamePartyDistrict No.Yes VoteNo VoteAbstainAbsent
ArthurLaurenDemocratic178081 
BernskoetterMikeRepublican6821 6
BrownJustinRepublican1683114
BurlisonEricRepublican20612611
CierpiotMikeRepublican886 2
CrawfordSandyRepublican288711 
CunninghamMikeRepublican3387 11
Curls**Shalonn KikiDemocratic92   
EigelBillRepublican23672011
EmeryEdRepublican318261 
HegemanDanRepublican1288 1 
Holsman**JasonDemocratic72   
HoskinsDennyRepublican2183411
HoughLincolnRepublican308711 
KoenigAndrewRepublican158351 
LiblaDougRepublican2584311
LuetkemeyerTonyRepublican348711 
MayKarlaDemocratic4646 19
NasheedJamilahDemocratic5537127
O’LaughlinCindyRepublican1883411
OnderBobRepublican2711017
RiddleJeanieRepublican10682118
RizzoJohnDemocratic118531 
Romine**GaryRepublican32   
RowdenCalebRepublican1981 17
SaterDavidRepublican2987 11
SchatzDaveRepublican2687 1 
SchuppJillDemocratic2474816
SiftonScottDemocratic18081 
WallingfordWayeRepublican278531 
WalshGinaDemocratic13694115
WhiteBillRepublican3288 1 
WielandPaulRepublican228351 
WilliamsBrianDemocratic1481512

*Final vote counts for the 2020 Regular Session.

**Senator resigned midway through legislative session.

Vote Counts for Missouri House of Representatives 2020 Legislative Session*

Last NameFirst NamePartyDistrict No.Yes VotesNo VotesAbstainAbsent
AldridgeRasheenDemocratic787828139
AllredVicRepublican13120125
AndersonSonyaRepublican13114321
AndrewsAllenRepublican114024
AppelbaumLaDonnaDemocratic71944426
BaileyDottieRepublican110116624
BakerBenRepublican160124139
BangertGretchenDemocratic691162613
BaringerDonnaDemocratic8211729  
BarnesJeromeDemocratic28118262 
BasyeChuckRepublican4713826
BeckDougDemocratic9210838 
BillingtonHardyRepublican152130133
BlackRustyRepublican7140312
BlackJohnRepublican137145 1
Bland ManloveAshleyDemocratic269039314
BondonJackRepublican5614042
BosleyLaKeyShaDemocratic796532148
BromleyBobRepublican1621406 
BrownPaulaDemocratic709925319
BrownRichardDemocratic27110351 
BurnettIngridDemocratic19883919
BurnsBobDemocratic93659 72
BusickDannyRepublican31071128
ButzSteveDemocratic811082711
CarpenterJonDemocratic15794720
CarterChrisDemocratic766028157
Chappelle-NadalMariaDemocratic869433118
ChipmanJasonRepublican120130115
ChristofanelliPhilRepublican105131132
ClemensDougDemocratic72934535
ColemanMary ElizabethRepublican97127316
ColemanJeffRepublican3213646
CuppsScottRepublican158130313
DeatonDirkRepublican159135101
DeGrootBruceRepublican10113088
DinkinsChrisRepublican1441451 
DoganShamedRepublican9813313 
DohrmanDeanRepublican5113835
EgglestonJ.Republican214141
EllebrachtMarkDemocratic171222211
EslingerKarlaRepublican15514213
EvansDavidRepublican154133 13
FalknerBillRepublican101397 
FishelCraigRepublican136132311
FitzwaterTravisRepublican4913835
FrancisRickRepublican145123 23
GannonElaineRepublican1151451
GrayAlanDemocratic75913817
GreenAlanDemocratic67922529
GregoryDavidRepublican9613718
GrierDerekRepublican1001337 6
GriesheimerAaronRepublican61125120
GriffithDaveRepublican601451
GunbyTrishDemocratic9911333 
HaahrElijahRepublican134137  9
HadenKentRepublican4314123
HaffnerMikeRepublican551397
HanneganTomRepublican65131312
HansenJimRepublican40134318
HelmsSteveRepublican13513673
HendersonMikeRepublican11714222
HicksRonRepublican10213637
HillJustinRepublican108130133
HouxDanRepublican54144 2
HovisBarryRepublican14613835
HudsonBradRepublican13814231
HurstTomRepublican6249961
IngleKeriDemocratic35114302
JustusJefferyRepublican15613925
KelleyAnnRepublican127145 1
KellyHannahRepublican14113835
KendrickKipDemocratic4511623 7
KiddBillRepublican20128513
KnightJeffRepublican129132 14
KolkmeyerGlenRepublican53144 2
LavenderDebDemocratic9088499
LovascoTonyRepublican6411630 
LoveWarrenRepublican1251001144
LynchSteveRepublican122144  2
MackeyIanDemocratic87100433
MayhewDonRepublican1211406 
McCreeryTracyDemocratic889947 
McDanielAndrewRepublican1501043111
McGaughPeggyRepublican391421 3
McGirlMikeRepublican1181415
MeridethPeterDemocratic806451130
MessengerJeffreyRepublican130421103
MillerRockyRepublican12413547
MittenGinaDemocratic83934229
MoonMikeRepublican1575393 
MorganJudyDemocratic24773534
MorrisLynnRepublican1401431 2
MorseHermanRepublican15114231
MosleyJayDemocratic68106355
MuntzelDaveRepublican48136  10
MurphyJimRepublican9413475
NeelyJimRepublican811822 6
O’DonnellMichaelRepublican951441 1
PattersonJonathanRepublican3013817
PersonMichaelDemocratic741093016
PfautschDonnaRepublican33143 3
Pierson Jr.TommieDemocratic66101441 
PietzmanRandyRepublican4111612 18
PikePatriciaRepublican126144 2
PlocherDeanRepublican89123221
PogueJeffRepublican143813413
PollittBradRepublican5213862
PollockSuzieRepublican1231091324
PorterJeffRepublican421451  
PriceWileyDemocratic84803630
ProudieRaychelDemocratic7310520813
QuadeCrystalDemocratic13293503
RazerGregDemocratic2511729
ReedyRodgerRepublican571406 
RehderHollyRepublican148123617
RemoleTimRepublican614411
RicheyDougRepublican3814051
RiggsLouisRepublican5146 
RobertsLaneRepublican1611422 2
RobertsStevenDemocratic77964631
RodenShaneRepublican111128819
RogersWesDemocratic18106382
RoneDonRepublican149118424
RossRobertRepublican14213412  
RowlandRoryDemocratic2910027118
RunionsJoeDemocratic376917 60
RuthBeckyRepublican1141451 
SainMattDemocratic14772742
SaulsRobertDemocratic2110519121
SchneltingAdamRepublican1041355 6
SchroerNickRepublican107119720
SharpMarkDemocratic36109361
SharpeGregRepublican414312
ShaulDanRepublican113137  9
ShawanJeffRepublican15395447
ShieldsBrendaRepublican111441 1
ShullNoel JRepublican164  142
SimmonsJohnRepublican10911516312
SmithCodyRepublican16312899
SolonSheilaRepublican9134111
SommerChrissyRepublican1061411 4
SpencerBryanRepublican63118253
StacyDanRepublican31129161
StephensMikeRepublican128116129
StevensMarthaDemocratic4610145 
SwanKathrynRepublican14713637
TateNateRepublican119783 65
TaylorJeredRepublican139130151
Toalson ReischCheriRepublican44127118
TrentCurtisRepublican13313844
UnsickerSarahDemocratic9197481 
VeitRudyRepublican591354 7
VescovoRobRepublican112131411
WalshSaraRepublican50131771
WashingtonBarbaraDemocratic239227423
WiemannJohnRepublican1031433
WilsonKennethRepublican121226117
WindhamKevinDemocratic8583351315
WoodDavidRepublican5813637
WrightDaleRepublican11614015
YoungYolandaDemocratic22108326

*Final vote counts for the 2020 Regular Session.

 

Vote counts were updated with the final vote tallies on May 22, 2020.

 

FastDemocracy announces expansion and new features in advance of 2019 legislative session

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

October 22, 2018

 

FastDemocracy announces expansion and new features in advance of 2019 legislative session

 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — FastDemocracy, an online bill tracker and legislative analytics platform, today announced that it has expanded its toolkit in advance of the 2019 legislative session to include new, innovative tools that make legislative advocacy more effective. The full, expanded suite of legislative analytics features is geared towards government relations professionals and available by online subscription at fastdemocracy.com.

 

“With our new, advanced analytics, we’re not only giving subscribers the ability to follow what’s happening in the legislature, we’re giving them the ability to predict outcomes and showing them the pathway to success.” said Jill Kline, CEO at FastDemocracy. “Paired with our user-friendly interface FastDemocracy empowers more businesses, organizations, and individuals to take control of their government relations strategy.”

 

FastDemocracy’s newly released, standout features include instant alerts of bill actions, amendment notifications and a one-of-a kind bill comparison feature. “The bill comparison feature is like a DNA fingerprint for bill language. If there’s similar bill language in other bills, you’ll know. If bill language of interest gets amended to another bill, we will alert you,” says Anatolij Gelimson, the CTO of FastDemocracy. “If organizations are pushing similar legislation in other states, you can see that with the click of a button.”

 

In 2019, FastDemocracy will further expand its toolkit to include predictive technology, allowing users to move beyond traditional bill tracking and identify effective, data-driven strategies for success. Additionally, FastDemocracy will expand its tracking and analytics capabilities to the local level, with St. Louis and Kansas City as the flagship cities.

 

FastDemocracy has seen substantial growth in 2018. The platform currently has more than 800 users, primarily in Missouri. FastDemocracy earned a $25,000 grant from Digital Sandbox KC in July and was a top prize winner in the third annual Pure Pitch Rally earlier this month.

 

FastDemocracy, founded in 2018 and headquartered in Kansas City, is a state and national legislative analytics platform that uses data-driven analytics and collaborative communications tools to empower professionals and consumers alike to be more informed and effective while advocating for policy change. For more information on FastDemocracy, visit fastdemocracy.com.

 

###

FastDemocracy joins Digital Sandbox KC

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

July 16, 2018

 

FastDemocracy joins Digital Sandbox KC

 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — FastDemocracy today announced its selection as one of Digital Sandbox KC’s new portfolio companies. The opportunity to join the portfolio comes with a $25,000 grant and access to additional startup resources.

 

“We’re thrilled to join the Digital Sandbox KC portfolio,” said Jill Kline, CEO and co-founder of FastDemocracy. “This prestigious opportunity and additional funding will allow us to officially launch our company, bring on new subscribers, and help advocates effectively take control of their government relations strategy.”

 

FastDemocracy was one of only four startups selected in this most recent round of funding from Digital Sandbox KC. DigitalSandbox KC provides proof-of-concept funding to early stage startups in the Kansas City area.

 

FastDemocracy plans to apply the funding towards patent applications and work towards launching an upgraded analytics toolkit.

 

FastDemocracy, founded in 2018 and headquartered in Kansas City, is a legislative analytics platform that uses data-driven analytics and collaborative communications tools to empower professionals and consumers alike to be more informed and effective while advocating for policy change. For more information on FastDemocracy, visit fastdemocracy.com.

 

###