Indiana residents interested in tracking bills through the legislative process now can sign up to receive updates via text message. The Indiana House Republicans announced last week that they would begin using short message service to keep subscribers up-to-date on 15 selected bills.
"We must continue to embrace technology and consider new ways to communicate to the public while providing transparency," said House Speaker Brian Bosma. "This is a great way to get more people involved with what's happening at the Statehouse." For now, the updates are available for bills emphasizing the "Own Your American Dream" agenda, which focuses on jobs and education legislation, as well as other bills of high interest. Bosma said he hopes to expand the list of 15 bills over time. Anyone can sign up for the updates at http://inhousegop.us.
This isn't Bosma's first effort to integrate technology into the legislature. In 2011, he made every House committee meeting available online. At the beginning of the year, Bosma hosted five "Tweet Seats" during Gov. Mike Pence's State of the State address so that selected members of the public could tweet their reactions.
Local and state governments in general continue looking for ways to provide better service through texting. The Orange County Transportation Authority lets riders text a bus stop number and route to OCTAGO and receive arrival times of the next three buses. In December, Chicago upgraded its ChiTEXT tool so that residents can text inservice requests, receive updates on the request and sign up for localized city alerts.