The other day I was researching a change to the Milwaukee Code. I immediately noticed an upgrade to Legistar. If you are not familiar with Legistar, it is a system to help manage the flow of documents through the municipal legislative process. Obviously, a great help to the Clerk’s office. However, there is also a significant benefit to the legal community. This system contains detailed information, including documentation, pertaining to resolutions, ordinances, reports and other items.
The new upgrade is called the Legislative Research Center. It is approximately a month old and has some great new features. The first is that the interface is much cleaner and easier to navigate. The researcher can conduct a keyword search in any or all of the following categories: legislative text, attachments, or “other” information. It also permits a search by file number, which can be extremely helpful. Result lists are similar to the prior version.
The second new feature is the incorporation of the agendas & minutes from the various Boards and Commissions. Prior to the upgrade, searching this information used to be a separate stop in the research process.
Another feature is the “Media Match,” which will continue to grow. Links to the video of entire Common Council meetings will be available. In addition, from this legislative session forward, video links to specific sections of the meeting are also an option. Just choose the “meeting details” link. A detailed summary of the meeting is provided along with a link to the video segment that corresponds to that point of discussion.
To enhance the service more, the Clerk’s office has added an RSS feature. The coverage for this feature will continue to grow. For example, I was able to find RSS capabilities for the calendar section and specific file numbers (issues). Just look for the orange RSS icon. This is a great enhancement.
Legistar technology is also available in the City of Madison.
I would like to thank Milwaukee Deputy City Clerk, Jim Owczarski, for taking time to discuss the Legislative Research Center.