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 Name First Name Party District No. Yes Vote No Vote Abstain Absent
Arthur Lauren Democratic 17 80 8 1  
Bernskoetter Mike Republican 6 82 1   6
Brown Justin Republican 16 83 1 1 4
Burlison Eric Republican 20 61 26 1 1
Cierpiot Mike Republican 8 86   2
Crawford Sandy Republican 28 87 1 1  
Cunningham Mike Republican 33 87   1 1
Curls** Shalonn Kiki Democratic 9 2      
Eigel Bill Republican 23 67 20 1 1
Emery Ed Republican 31 82 6 1  
Hegeman Dan Republican 12 88   1  
Holsman** Jason Democratic 7 2      
Hoskins Denny Republican 21 83 4 1 1
Hough Lincoln Republican 30 87 1 1  
Koenig Andrew Republican 15 83 5 1  
Libla Doug Republican 25 84 3 1 1
Luetkemeyer Tony Republican 34 87 1 1  
May Karla Democratic 4 64 6   19
Nasheed Jamilah Democratic 5 53 7 1 27
O’Laughlin Cindy Republican 18 83 4 1 1
Onder Bob Republican 2 71 10 1 7
Riddle Jeanie Republican 10 68 2 1 18
Rizzo John Democratic 11 85 3 1  
Romine** Gary Republican 3 2      
Rowden Caleb Republican 19 81   1 7
Sater David Republican 29 87   1 1
Schatz Dave Republican 26 87   1  
Schupp Jill Democratic 24 74 8 1 6
Sifton Scott Democratic 1 80 8 1  
Wallingford Waye Republican 27 85 3 1  
Walsh Gina Democratic 13 69 4 1 15
White Bill Republican 32 88   1  
Wieland Paul Republican 22 83 5 1  
Williams Brian Democratic 14 81 5 1 2

*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 Name First Name Party District No. Yes Votes No Votes Abstain Absent
Aldridge Rasheen Democratic 78 78 28 1 39
Allred Vic Republican 13 120 1 25
Anderson Sonya Republican 131 143 2 1
Andrews Allen Republican 1 140 2 4
Appelbaum LaDonna Democratic 71 94 44 2 6
Bailey Dottie Republican 110 116 6 24
Baker Ben Republican 160 124 13 9
Bangert Gretchen Democratic 69 116 26 1 3
Baringer Donna Democratic 82 117 29    
Barnes Jerome Democratic 28 118 26 2  
Basye Chuck Republican 47 138 2 6
Beck Doug Democratic 92 108 38  
Billington Hardy Republican 152 130 13 3
Black Rusty Republican 7 140 3 1 2
Black John Republican 137 145   1
Bland Manlove Ashley Democratic 26 90 39 3 14
Bondon Jack Republican 56 140 4 2
Bosley LaKeySha Democratic 79 65 32 1 48
Bromley Bob Republican 162 140 6  
Brown Paula Democratic 70 99 25 3 19
Brown Richard Democratic 27 110 35 1  
Burnett Ingrid Democratic 19 88 39 19
Burns Bob Democratic 93 65 9   72
Busick Danny Republican 3 107 11 28
Butz Steve Democratic 81 108 27 11
Carpenter Jon Democratic 15 79 47 20
Carter Chris Democratic 76 60 28 1 57
Chappelle-Nadal Maria Democratic 86 94 33 1 18
Chipman Jason Republican 120 130 11 5
Christofanelli Phil Republican 105 131 13 2
Clemens Doug Democratic 72 93 45 3 5
Coleman Mary Elizabeth Republican 97 127 3 16
Coleman Jeff Republican 32 136 4 6
Cupps Scott Republican 158 130 3 13
Deaton Dirk Republican 159 135 10 1
DeGroot Bruce Republican 101 130 8 8
Dinkins Chris Republican 144 145 1  
Dogan Shamed Republican 98 133 13  
Dohrman Dean Republican 51 138 3 5
Eggleston J. Republican 2 141 4 1
Ellebracht Mark Democratic 17 122 22 1 1
Eslinger Karla Republican 155 142 1 3
Evans David Republican 154 133   13
Falkner Bill Republican 10 139 7  
Fishel Craig Republican 136 132 3 11
Fitzwater Travis Republican 49 138 3 5
Francis Rick Republican 145 123   23
Gannon Elaine Republican 115 145 1
Gray Alan Democratic 75 91 38 17
Green Alan Democratic 67 92 25 29
Gregory David Republican 96 137 1 8
Grier Derek Republican 100 133 7   6
Griesheimer Aaron Republican 61 125 1 20
Griffith Dave Republican 60 145 1
Gunby Trish Democratic 99 113 33  
Haahr Elijah Republican 134 137     9
Haden Kent Republican 43 141 2 3
Haffner Mike Republican 55 139 7
Hannegan Tom Republican 65 131 3 12
Hansen Jim Republican 40 134 3 1 8
Helms Steve Republican 135 136 7 3
Henderson Mike Republican 117 142 2 2
Hicks Ron Republican 102 136 3 7
Hill Justin Republican 108 130 13 3
Houx Dan Republican 54 144   2
Hovis Barry Republican 146 138 3 5
Hudson Brad Republican 138 142 3 1
Hurst Tom Republican 62 49 96 1
Ingle Keri Democratic 35 114 30 2
Justus Jeffery Republican 156 139 2 5
Kelley Ann Republican 127 145   1
Kelly Hannah Republican 141 138 3 5
Kendrick Kip Democratic 45 116 23   7
Kidd Bill Republican 20 128 5 13
Knight Jeff Republican 129 132   14
Kolkmeyer Glen Republican 53 144   2
Lavender Deb Democratic 90 88 49 9
Lovasco Tony Republican 64 116 30  
Love Warren Republican 125 100 1 1 44
Lynch Steve Republican 122 144     2
Mackey Ian Democratic 87 100 43 3
Mayhew Don Republican 121 140 6  
McCreery Tracy Democratic 88 99 47  
McDaniel Andrew Republican 150 104 31 11
McGaugh Peggy Republican 39 142 1   3
McGirl Mike Republican 118 141 5
Merideth Peter Democratic 80 64 51 1 30
Messenger Jeffrey Republican 130 42 1 103
Miller Rocky Republican 124 135 4 7
Mitten Gina Democratic 83 93 42 2 9
Moon Mike Republican 157 53 93  
Morgan Judy Democratic 24 77 35 34
Morris Lynn Republican 140 143 1   2
Morse Herman Republican 151 142 3 1
Mosley Jay Democratic 68 106 35 5
Muntzel Dave Republican 48 136     10
Murphy Jim Republican 94 134 7 5
Neely Jim Republican 8 118 22   6
O’Donnell Michael Republican 95 144 1   1
Patterson Jonathan Republican 30 138 1 7
Person Michael Democratic 74 109 30 1 6
Pfautsch Donna Republican 33 143   3
Pierson Jr. Tommie Democratic 66 101 44 1  
Pietzman Randy Republican 41 116 12   18
Pike Patricia Republican 126 144   2
Plocher Dean Republican 89 123 2 21
Pogue Jeff Republican 143 8 134 1 3
Pollitt Brad Republican 52 138 6 2
Pollock Suzie Republican 123 109 13 24
Porter Jeff Republican 42 145 1    
Price Wiley Democratic 84 80 36 30
Proudie Raychel Democratic 73 105 20 8 13
Quade Crystal Democratic 132 93 50 3
Razer Greg Democratic 25 117 29
Reedy Rodger Republican 57 140 6  
Rehder Holly Republican 148 123 6 17
Remole Tim Republican 6 144 1 1
Richey Doug Republican 38 140 5 1
Riggs Louis Republican 5 146  
Roberts Lane Republican 161 142 2   2
Roberts Steven Democratic 77 96 46 3 1
Roden Shane Republican 111 128 8 1 9
Rogers Wes Democratic 18 106 38 2
Rone Don Republican 149 118 4 24
Ross Robert Republican 142 134 12    
Rowland Rory Democratic 29 100 27 1 18
Runions Joe Democratic 37 69 17   60
Ruth Becky Republican 114 145 1  
Sain Matt Democratic 14 77 27 42
Sauls Robert Democratic 21 105 19 1 21
Schnelting Adam Republican 104 135 5   6
Schroer Nick Republican 107 119 7 20
Sharp Mark Democratic 36 109 36 1
Sharpe Greg Republican 4 143 1 2
Shaul Dan Republican 113 137     9
Shawan Jeff Republican 153 95 4 47
Shields Brenda Republican 11 144 1   1
Shull Noel J Republican 16 4     142
Simmons John Republican 109 115 16 3 12
Smith Cody Republican 163 128 9 9
Solon Sheila Republican 9 134 1 11
Sommer Chrissy Republican 106 141 1   4
Spencer Bryan Republican 63 118 25 3
Stacy Dan Republican 31 129 16 1
Stephens Mike Republican 128 116 1 29
Stevens Martha Democratic 46 101 45  
Swan Kathryn Republican 147 136 3 7
Tate Nate Republican 119 78 3   65
Taylor Jered Republican 139 130 15 1
Toalson Reisch Cheri Republican 44 127 11 8
Trent Curtis Republican 133 138 4 4
Unsicker Sarah Democratic 91 97 48 1  
Veit Rudy Republican 59 135 4   7
Vescovo Rob Republican 112 131 4 11
Walsh Sara Republican 50 131 7 7 1
Washington Barbara Democratic 23 92 27 4 23
Wiemann John Republican 103 143 3
Wilson Kenneth Republican 12 122 6 1 17
Windham Kevin Democratic 85 83 35 13 15
Wood David Republican 58 136 3 7
Wright Dale Republican 116 140 1 5
Young Yolanda Democratic 22 108 32 6

*Final vote counts for the 2020 Regular Session.

 

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

 

Masks, gloves, and your keyboard: Tips for shaping your government in the time of COVID-19

masks, gloves, and your keyboardWe get it. These are strange and uncertain times, especially in terms of how you can engage with the government and keep safe. You need a product built on the founding mission that government should be transparent and that technology should put government at your fingertips. With FastDemocracy as your digital partner, you can still be a successful advocate, even from home. Here’s how:

1.       Stay in touch.

Even when your state government isn’t meeting publicly, the work continues. Use the “contact your legislator” feature on the FastDemocracy platform to remind legislators about what’s important to you and share updates on how changing concerns directly impact your family. Use our news feature to look up your legislator and see them “in the news.” This will let you know if they are working hard or hardly working.

2.       Compare responses.

Responses to COVID-19 vary significantly state to state. While approaches range from tepid to robust, knowing how your state compares can help pressure your state government effectively. 

Knowing how your state stacks up, also allows you to be innovative. See a good idea in Michigan? Why not try that in Wisconsin? Imitation is the highest form of flattery. If it works elsewhere it might, with a few tweaks, work for your state too and you have the added benefit of learning from what worked (and didn’t) for other states to perfect your advocacy. Use our “compare bill” feature to see commonalities across the country. 

3.       Hold them accountable. 

Your legislators are working in extreme circumstances, in masks, in small numbers on the floor of their chambers, and, problematically, often without public access. However, you can still hold them accountable. Use the voting records feature on FastDemocracy to follow along with what your elected is doing. Let them know that you are watching them (even while socially distant!) and that you plan to inform your community about their voting record during the primaries and general election. With FastDemocracy, you can search for voting records by topic, by bill, and both. FastDemocracy combs through thousands of pages of voting records, so you don’t have to but you can be the check on power your government needs.  

When the Government Goes Dark

The actions of governments at a local, state, and federal level are meant to be public. Their votes and voices as they debate issues of vital interest to their constituents are meant to be heard, meant to prompt accountability from voters come the next election. But what happens when the government goes dark?

Right now, we are witnessing government action without public input. In the rush to address urgent needs presented by COVID-19, the core values of open and transparent government are stymied. 

Government has not innovated enough to be digitally democratic. 

At a local level, it’s through yard signs, facebook events, and flyers left rubber banded to doors where residents learn of new open forums. At the state level, most live debate is not recorded on video, often it is even a struggle to find a room that is video equipped (provided the lawmakers themselves do not wish to avoid the inconvenience of being watched). At the federal level, we have better resourced watchers, with CSPAN and the national press corps hard at work, yet when the lawmakers themselves can’t enter into chambers without masks, gloves, and social distancing- what are we missing behind the scenes? 

If we want government by the people and for the people, we must allow people access to government, even, and perhaps most urgently, in times of crisis.

When this pandemic ends and we find our new “normal,” will that normalcy include a technological revolution? A prioritization of government transparency so that no official remains inscrutable? That’s unlikely. Doing so would shift power away from elected officials who, through limiting information,  shape the narratives we consume. 

We have to fuel the technological revolution through industry innovation. Force government transparency by making votes accessible by topic, force accountability by informing the people when their input can be most effective, take the vast resource of machine learning and become predictive about the behaviors of elected officials so we can stay in front of the curve. In this time of darkness, where governments approve budgets in the shadows, hold elections in chaos, and sacrifice open government for expedient government, legislative analytics platforms are key players. They must pioneer solutions to allow us, the people, to remain as watch guards of liberty.

State governments advance legislation to address COVID-19 crisis

As the COVID-19 crisis continues to play out across the world and people everywhere are looking to make sense of this unique, chaotic situation, many Americans are keeping their eyes glued to the news to stay updated on what the president and Congress are doing to keep us safe. The federal government has recently passed three bills in an effort to keep the Americans safe and blunt economic damage caused by the global pandemic. Most recently, President Trump signed the CARES Act, a bill worth $2 trillion to prevent a large-scale economic fallout.

While action on a national level is undoubtedly necessary if the government is to provide safety for Americans and their savings, states are also working to make an impact through not only their gubernatorial actions but also the movement of bills through their legislatures. Here are some of the actions being taken across the United States to combat coronavirus. You can learn more about what your state legislature is doing to address the COVID-19 crisis by signing up for free email updates at FastDemocracy.com.

1. Waive K-12 requirements due to COVID-19 closures

Because of the need to avoid large gatherings in the coming months, a number of states have been working to pass bills that will allow schools to conduct classes online, while other states have put a pause on instruction altogether until the coronavirus situation has slowed. In order to take pressure off both instructors and families, some states have brought up legislation that will reduce the mandatory number of hours of instruction that students must receive each week.

2. Mandating insurance companies provide testing without co-pays

Given that the coronavirus has been deemed a national emergency, many states are taking action to make sure health insurance companies cover the cost of coronavirus testing. The driving idea behind this is twofold – first, to ensure that dealing with coronavirus is not cost-prohibitive, and second to stop the virus from spreading further across the larger population.

3. Temporarily change unemployment eligibility requirements

As a result of mandatory quarantines and the inability of many businesses to continue turning a profit when customers are remaining at home, state legislatures across the nation are making it easier for workers who have been laid off to access unemployment benefits. Early access to unemployment benefits would assist impacted workers maintain financial stability.

4. Preventing eviction and foreclosure during COVID-19

Because many Americans are currently finding themselves unable to go to work, concern regarding the payment of rent and utilities is growing. As such, some state legislatures are ensuring that those affected by the economic implications of the virus do not end up without a home. This legislation does not necessarily waive rent, mortgage, or utility payments; it just prevents eviction and foreclosure or the threat of eviction or foreclosure while the COVID-19 crisis is ongoing.

5. Halt debt collection

With unemployment claims rapidly increasing,
so are workers’ concerns about their ability to meet financial obligations. To
further assist workers impacted by the economic slow-down due to coronavirus, some
state legislatures are considering legislation that would pause debt repayments
in order to help Americans avoid bankruptcy.

Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, state and local governments have been on the forefront of proposing policy solutions to help prevent the spread of the virus and assist affected workers and families. Because of the large impact that state legislatures can have in the fight against COVID-19 by passing bills like those listed above, it is now more important than ever that American citizens stay current on what is happening in government at all levels. You can learn more about what the state and federal governments are doing to address the COVID-19 crisis by signing up for free email updates at FastDemocracy.com.

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.

 

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FastDemocracy top prize winner at the Pure Pitch Rally

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

October 10, 2018

 

FastDemocracy top prize winner at Pure Pitch Rally startup competition

 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — FastDemocracy today won prizes worth $110,000 and the People’s Choice Award at the Pure Pitch Rally, earning the company a spot as a top prize winner at the local startup competition. FastDemocracy’s earned cash awards as well as tech services from Amazon Web Service and an office space at WeWork Kansas City.

 

“We were thrilled to compete among such an impressive slate of entrepreneurs and honored to have earned such support,” said Sara Baker, chief innovation officer at FastDemocracy. “This recognition by venture capitalists and business leaders further validates the effectiveness of FastDemocracy’s platform and the need for innovation in the legislative advocacy industry.”

 

FastDemocracy competed against seven other area technology startups at the third annual Pure Pitch Rally. Each entrepreneur received three minutes to pitch their business to a panel of judges and investors.

 

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.

 

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