Council Debuts Improved, More User-Friendly Legislative Search Engine

Advocates, Council staff, members of the media, and everyday residents of the District will all be interested to know that the Council has just rolled out a new-and-improved version of our legislative search engine, LIMS (Legislative Information Management System). LIMS includes every piece legislation considered by the Council going back to 1989. It is updated continuously, multiple times a day.

For everyday residents, LIMS is the site you should head to when you are interested to learn more about a bill. Right from the home page, at a glance, you can see the number of bills, laws, and other measures that have been introduced in the current two-year Council Period, and where they stand in the legislative process. You will also get an immediate look at which bills have been newly introduced (the default tab) or what bills are “trending” (just click on that tab). You will also get a look at which events are coming soon for the Council and its committees.

Advocates, Council staff, and members of the media who were familiar with the prior version of LIMS will be thrilled to see a series of improvements. First and foremost among these are the ability to search by an exact phase (using “ “ around the search term) and using Boolean search terms like AND, OR, NOT, etc.. Search results are now also sorted by relevance, with an improved search algorithm.

Given the quantity of legislation passed by the Council every year, being able to intelligently narrow searches is a critical need in LIMS. The newest version provides excellent capacity at this level, with the ability to toggle simultaneously or alternately between searches narrowed by Council Period, category of legislation, the councilmember(s) who introduced/co-sponsored the bill, the committee it was referred to, and the bill’s current/final status. Search results now also include snippets of legislation text, to give you a sense if the bills your search returned are right on the mark.

The true geeks and open government advocates among us know both what API access is, and that we have offered it for years. They will be thrilled to see we have improved our API access, and made it more secure.

From an internal Council staff standpoint, the new LIMS allows for online filing of introductions and notices.

In the coming months, we hope to offer online LIMS training on the new system.