Dead link alert! The Legislative Research Council has launched a redesign of the South Dakota Legislature's website. The old URL, legis.state.sd.us, now redirects to a new site, legis.sd.gov. LRC has gone from this:
Flip the main menu from vertical left to horizontal header, tuck a few things into buttons, add a distracting rotating album (stop, stop, stop! leave the info available out where I can see it consistently!), and replace the sunny header photo with a grim cloudy photo.
But the main reason I'm underwhelmed is that so far, I don't see any substantial new functionality. The LRC appears to have imposed a new style sheet on pretty much the same list and structure of resources (good resources! resources I love!). The LRC has addedI see no increased interactivity for voters and reporters, no sign of adding outside research resources on bills, and (of particular interest to fans of Stace Nelson and open government) no sign of any new voting record tracker that would allow interested citizens to check complete voting records for individual legislators.
I find just two new functions, the site search and "Current Bills Search" plopped right of the dome in the header. The latter I can't really take for a drive yet, since we won't have current bills to search until Christmas (Santa, come quickly!). The former is a useful addition, but it pops up a new Google window instead of keeping me within the site, the way my own free WordPress plugin does here on the Madville Times (this stuff isn't hard or expensive!).
Another big blog disappointment is link breakage. Friends of the blog know that I love linking to South Dakota Codified Law, the state constitution, and House and Senate bills. LRC preserved and redirected links to laws and the constitution, but links to the archived Legislative sessions are toast. I dread spending my spare time updating eight years worth of blog posts to the Legislature's greatest hits... but wait! I find 2007 HB 1293, another South Dakota Handmaid's Tale abortion bill, redirecting nicely! So does Frank Kloucek's 2008 TransCanada pipeline accountability bill. But the 2010 Blog Control Acts (ah, the good old days, when Pat Powers and I could work together for the common good) come up snake eyes, as do many subsequent bills, like the infamous 2012 HB 1234 on education. Keep working, LRC! We need those links preserved, for education and research purposes!
The Legislature's website redesign isn't a terrible step in the direction of form; let's hope it's just a first step to improved function that LRC will roll out for the surely hurly-burly 2014 session.