Rio Grande Foundation Re-Launches User-friendly Legislative Tracking Tool,

(Albuquerque) The Rio Grande Foundation is again tracking all the legislation introduced in the 2011 legislative session through its recently launched Web site. RGF launched the site with the opening of the 2008 special session in order to provide a more transparent window for New Mexicans to follow what happens in state government. The site is free and open to the public and will be updated with votes from the 2011 special session.

With plain English bill information, the site also reveals the missed votes of every legislator; links that show everyone who has donated to each legislator and the amount of each donation; and a whole host of features that those who want to track what happens in Santa Fe will find useful. It even features House floor votes, which are not available online at the state legislative Web site.

Users of the site will be able to interact with each other, commenting on legislation as it moves during the session.

Paul Gessing, President of the Rio Grande Foundation, said of the new public service, “With more alleged corruption in New Mexico making national headlines, the need for more transparency in state government is becoming ever increasingly important. ‘Votes’ is part of our organization’s efforts to bring more transparency and accountability to New Mexico state government.

We want everyone to be able to find out, with a few clicks of a mouse, what his or her legislator is doing, to be able to sign on and read plain English descriptions of what each bill does in a way that the average person can understand, and know immediately what our tax money is being spent on, or whether the bill increases or decreases taxation, regulation, or government transparency.”

Gessing noted that among the most important features of the site is its “missed votes” report which allows users to determine how often their elected official is missing votes in Santa Fe. This report is available here: Said Gessing, “There are potentially-legitimate reasons for legislators to miss large numbers of votes (such, but not limited to, the family illness that caused Sen. Kernan to miss 180 votes in 2011), but it is something voters should be aware of and follow up with their legislators on.”