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Minnesota Announces Civic Tech Legislation

BY Sam Roudman | Friday, March 7 2014

Can civic innovation be managed statewide? A bill in Minnesota is betting yes. It is looking to grab some of the state's $1.2 billion surplus to fund open data, open government, and civic technology., a site set up to promote and explain the bill, says the following:

"Open Minnesota will build an engine for public open data use, civic technology creation engaging start-up companies and technology volunteers, and help hundreds more government units get cost-effectively connected to the best global open government lessons for local adaptation."

Great. But just what does that look like? According to the site, something like the Smart Chicago Collaborative, which focuses on internet access and skills in addition to "data & applications that can make lives better for all who use the internet."

The site goes on to explain that the bill is inspired by the high levels of interest in Open Twin Cities, a year old civic hacker group connected to Code for America and But while the twin cities created the momentum to write the bill, the bill is intended to compensate for the lack of cities in Minnesota that can build a civic innovation ecosystem on par with Chicago's (or for that matter the Bay Area or New York.) "No city in Minnesota has the scale to compete nationally on its own," says the site.

While the bill has sponsors, what it doesn't have yet is a price tag. In an announcement post, Steven Clift from E-democracy, who helped promote the bill, wrote the following:

"Even with a $1.2 billion dollar state budget surplus, this is still a long shot - but whether we can secure a dime, a dollar or a goose egg per state resident is up to us. Everyone in civic tech should be taking long shots too in their states."