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By The Skanner News | The Skanner News
Published: 07 January 2009

As the 2009 Legislative Session starts on Monday, WashingtonVotes.org rolls out its enhanced 2.0 website that increases user accessibility and function.
WashingtonVotes.org is a free website that provides concise, plain-English, objective descriptions of every bill, amendment and vote of the Washington legislature. The site's searchable electronic database, by issue or bill number, allows users to learn about every action of the legislature within 24 hours of its occurrence.
Citizens interested in particular bills and issues such as health care, education or taxes can also register to receive daily e-mail alerts of legislative action on those bills and issues.
This information is completely non-partisan, non-ideological and free to the user. Users can also easily find who their legislator is and the latest bills on a specific subject and follow the progress of those bills. The website also includes an archive of past bills going back to the 2001 Legislative Session.
Citizens are using WashingtonVotes.org as a place to post their thoughts about bills in the website's improved citizen comment section. New functions of the site also include:
* updates to the search and watch list features
* expanded comment forums utilizing internet forums
* blog aggregator
* Wiki-style tools for information on lawmakers and issues
These new features will allow the site to function as a one-stop platform for user discussions on legislative activity.
State agencies, members of local governments, schools and citizen groups use the site to monitor bills during the fast-moving Sessions. University and college faculty and students go to the website to teach and learn about the legislative process. Reporters covering state government regularly rely on WashingtonVotes.org for quick access to voting record information.
State Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-Seattle) said, "WashingtonVotes.org provides an important means for citizens to keep track of legislation. And when they're better informed, we can better serve them. It's a win-win situation for the people and their representatives."
In addition, WashingtonVotes.org provides a weekly Roll Call service to more than twenty newspapers around the state.  Through this service, updates are sent on the top five bills each week that legislators voted on plus voting records tailored to each newspaper's region. This covers most of our state's legislative districts, providing valuable information to citizens on their legislators' actions.
WashingtonVotes.org is also continuing the popular Missed Votes Report.  At the end of each Session we publish a Missed Votes Report that provides a tally of each legislator's missed votes.  As the WashingtonVotes.org website shines a light on what legislators have done during a session, the Missed Votes Report lets Washingtonians know what legislators did not do during the session. The Missed Votes Report will be available after the 105-day session is complete in April.  
WashingtonVotes.org is a free public service of Washington Policy Center, a non-partisan independent policy research organization in Seattle and Olympia.

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