For some time now, I’ve been developing a website called Open Maine Politics that brings together information on the bills, the legislators, the votes, the sponsorships, the campaign contributions, and the political action committees of the Maine State Legislature and combines this information with insight regarding the social media communications of legislators and the characteristics of legislators’ districts as described by the U.S. Census Bureau.
My work with Open Maine Politics isn’t done (coming soon… lobbyist data!), but it’s matured to the extent that I’ve decided it’s time to share the website with others. Please take a look when you have a moment to spare and let me know what you think. Let me know especially how it can be improved!
A new feature this month that I hope to augment in future months is an area of the website designed to house lesson plans for high school and undergraduate university students. My first lesson plan at Open Maine Politics guides students through the concepts of descriptive and substantive representation, then challenges students to delve into actual legislative data and make both a judgment and a determination:
1) What bills before the current Maine State Legislature further the gender interests of either women or men?
2) Do women and men legislators tend to cluster their sponsorship of and votes for these bills along gender lines?
The second lesson plan I hope to introduce next month will use the Maine State Legislature as a location for students to discover processes of framing and frame alignment. I’m looking forward to the prospect already.