April 17, 2002 – Want an update on what's doing at the Legislature? Check out the www.canton2k.com online database developed by the staff of Sen. Douglas E. Canton Jr. to keep Virgin Islanders abreast of what's happened to every bill in the Senate pipeline.
In case you were interested, as of Wednesday afternoon, the 24th Legislature had 223 bills either acted upon or on its agenda.
Canton's web site has a numerical list of bills but also provides an alphabetical index and summary that will help you locate a bill if you don't know its number. However, if you use the alphabetical index, you still must click on the bill's number in the numerical list to bring up the bill's history and its sponsors. The web site does not provide the full text of bills.
The senator's web page also has a chat room and links to the web sites of the Legislature, the V.I. government, Delegate Donna Christian Christensen, the White House, and the U.S. Senate and House of Representative.
Canton said that he expects in the future to provide the full text of bills and to have updates on Senate floor action posted within minutes after they happen. And he hopes to develop a system where bills on their way to the governor for his signature will be copied via e-mail to all of the senators. He said this will help forestall problems that come about when changes made to a bill during the legislative process don't make it into the copy that goes to the governor for action.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the web page showed 11,882 visits since the page went online on March 4, 2001.
Canton said he also is providing the information about bills on CD to schools and libraries, and his office will fax specifically requested information or print it out for pickup at his office on St. Croix or St. Thomas.
The web site is being maintained by students from the Educational Complex and Central high schools who, in addition to providing a service, are developing their research and computer skills. Canton said he employs one student part-time and the others volunteer.
In addition to improving their web management skills, Canton said, the young people also have developed an interest in the workings of the Legislature. "The exposure is great," he said, adding that he hopes exposing students to legislative proceedings will help develop a better-informed electorate.
Canton described his web site as part of his integrated constituent service strategy that also includes personal contact, telephone and fax communication, and news media outreach. "Our focus is on providing critical information to the public to facilitate the comment process while increasing public awareness," he said.
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