A vision for working around legislatures

When I worked around a state legislature…

I spent some time at Missouri’s state capitol as part of my work with Renew Missouri, but more often I heard about the struggles from my colleagues, who at peak times, might have to make the trek to Jefferson City 4 out of 5 business days. And when I went myself, there was always a maelstrom of making appearances in offices, handing out info, calling to get meetings, etc. One colleague had a book of all the officials and would actually take notes in there messily in the margins as we made the rounds. Then there’s my boss who usually just scribbled on whatever piece of scrap paper he had lying closest to him, and sometimes that note made it into Evernote later  — if I could get my hands on it.

It seemed like there was a better way and that perhaps other people and organizations had similar issues with keeping organized and on top of everything at the capitol and with the legislature in general. In fact when I first started at Renew Missouri as an intern in 2010 — one of my first fun projects was asking if my brother could make an app that had all the legislators’ info in it. Well I talked with my brother about it and long story short, we both let that project drop until 2012 when I decided to learn to code and just do it myself. So now I have CapitolBuddy — everyone’s friend at the legislature.

And I think CapitolBuddy could be the solution to a lot of the small but inconvenient struggles of capitol life. I think it could be a hub of communication and a great learning resource for those just getting their feet wet working in the legislature. You’ll still need to know the right people and still need to do the hard work, but in a centralized way. Keep your notes with your legislator ratings and scorecards. Make a count of the votes for an upcoming bill with their past voting history available for comparison. Get important notes on a bill or legislator out to everyone in your coalition, where they can make comments and give feedback. CapitolBuddy can be the place where you do all of those things. [Note: not all of those features are available currently, but they’re in my vision.]

Check the video:



New iPhone App: CapitolBuddy

For the past couple months, I’ve been working on an iphone App for lobbyists in the state legislature. It’s a complete directory of all the state legislators in Missouri with all contact info, committees, and bios — plus the ability to take notes and send them to yourself.

I got the idea a couple years ago when I was an intern at Renew Missouri. My boss, Jason Hughes said this would have been helpful to have. He showed me apps like it for Louisiana and one for Ohio. And I thought yeah, why don’t we have one for Missouri?

(I even asked my brother to make the app, but we both stalled out on actually getting it done.)

Well two years later, I finally learned to code with Objective-C (my first attempt at any coding language) and wrote this App. It was a real learning experience, and I’m thankful for all the confused people in the world that posted the same problems I had on forums for me to find via google. Those forums plus some youtube tutorials made the whole learning process possible.

Currently, I’m figuring out how to submit the app to Apple’s app store… a very confusing process. Look for another post when that happens and then one a few weeks after — when it’s approved for launch in the App Store.


Just submitted it. Actually, I submitted it this morning, but forgot the screenshots for the 4-inch retina display apparently. So now it is awaiting review.