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New Hampshire Begins Open-Data Efforts 164

Posted by Soulskill
from the creating-a-meatspace-api dept.
Plugh writes "The Free State Project was created to move 20,000 small-government activists to New Hampshire (here's the Slashdot story from 2002). IT people, with our ability to work anywhere, were some of the first to move. Now, with over a dozen Free Staters elected to the NH legislature, these geeks are starting to affect government data-sharing policy."
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New Hampshire Begins Open-Data Efforts

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  • Free Staters? (Score:5, Informative)

    by no known priors (1948918) on Tuesday February 08, 2011 @12:26AM (#35134474)

    I remember a quote about them, something like "they confuse freedom for corporations with freedom for people". Corporations aren't people, and so the tax rate for corporations (one of the reasons to pick New Hampshire I think) should be either irrelevant, or, a place with high taxes for corporations should be better (if it translates to lower taxes for real people).

    Ahem, back on topic:
    I think it is wonderful that at least one government is providing information in open formats (ahem, 'nerd-friendly, "pipe-separated" files'). I can't see the connection though between the "New Hampshire Liberty Alliance" (the group that seems to promoted the change according to the article), and the Free Staters.

    Indeed, The Free State website [freestateproject.org] says:

    We are not a political action organization. We are not tied to any political party or organization; we do not run candidates for election, we do not financially support or endorse candidates, and we do not oppose or endorse legislation. All these things will be done by local activist organizations with which many Free Staters are involved.

    • Re:Free Staters? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Plugh (27537) on Tuesday February 08, 2011 @07:30AM (#35136250) Homepage

      In fact, some Free Staters are working to explicitly rule that corporations are not people:
      HCR1 - establishing that human beings, not corporations, are entitled to constitutional rights [nhliberty.org]

      I say "some" because while all Free-Staters agree with the general goal of reducing the size and scope of government, the specifics and tactics differ widely.

      • In fact, some Free Staters are working to explicitly rule that corporations are not people:
        HCR1 - establishing that human beings, not corporations, are entitled to constitutional rights

        I have a big problem with that bill, "In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Eleven". Now that may sound like a trivial objection but I still recall having a ruler forcefully applied to one of my hands for not reciting the pledge of allegiance with "Under God" in a public elementary school.

        Falcon

        • by Plugh (27537)
          That's boilerplate, of course, and not related to the bill itself or any particular bill. I suppose if you wanted to take that up as a personal crusade, you could.
          • That's boilerplate, of course, and not related to the bill itself or any particular bill.

            "In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Eleven" does not need to be there, the only reason it would be there today is because someone wants to force their religion on others.

            Falcon

    • by corbettw (214229)

      Corporations don't pay taxes, their customers do. And with corporate tax rates at 0%, consumers end up spending much less for the things they need and businesses find it easier to expand and hire more employees.

      • by Myopic (18616)

        Wrong. Corporations pay taxes (on profits). I know, it's a cute (and completely false) thing to claim that corporate taxes are passed on to customers, and therefore consumers actually pay the corporation taxes. That is nonsense circumloqution, though: we could just as easily say that my employer pays my income tax, or that all taxes are paid by miners, lumberjacks, and others who take resources directly out of the ground. All of those arguments would be nonsense.

        If corporate taxes were zero, then other tax

      • Corporations don't pay taxes, their customers do. And with corporate tax rates at 0%, consumers end up spending much less for the things they need and businesses find it easier to expand and hire more employees.

        If corporations pay no income tax but people do corporations get a free ride. Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships also hire employees yet their owners still have to pay income tax. Not only do owners have to pay tax they are also financially liable, for instance in case of an accident, whereas stock holders are not. The first corporations granted charters were given charters just because of this. The British East India Company [wikipedia.org] was granted a charter in 1600 [answers.com] and the Dutch East India Company [wikipedia.org] was grante

        • by corbettw (214229)

          Reading comprehension FAIL on your part. Corporations simply pass the cost of taxes on to their customers. You could set the tax rate on corporations at 100%, all it would do is push the costs for goods and services up by a comparable amount, forcing consumers to spend more.

          • You've got that wrong, reading comprehension on your part -100%.

            Just to try to educate you and improve your comprehension, all businesses pass on the cost of taxes, but by giving corporations limited liability you're giving them an unfair advantage against other forms of business ownership.

            Maybe now you understand, but I doubt it.

            Falcon

            • by corbettw (214229)

              So what's to stop any business owner from incorporating their business? NOTHING. Only a fool would not do so, in the first place. So if you're arguing that fools are at a competitive disadvantage, then yeah, I can't disagree with you there.

              • So what's to stop any business owner from incorporating their business? NOTHING.

                Nothing? Nothing but state laws. Each state [quickmba.com] makes their own requirements corporations have to meet. Some states do not allow all of a corporation's stock to be owned by one person. Some states require corporations to have 3 executives. Other states have other requirements. There are also disadvantages [allbusiness.com] to corporate forms of business. Of course you can register an offshore corporation [offshore-companies.co.uk] but they have their own disadvantages.

                So before you make a fool of yourself again research what you will post about before

    • A Corporation is not capable of spending money for consumption purposes, only the individuals who make up the corporation are, so why tax the entity at all?

      • A Corporation is not capable of spending money for consumption purposes, only the individuals who make up the corporation are, so why tax the entity at all?

        Because corporations have an unfair advantage over other forms of business ownership. Say two businesses have their roofs collapse because of the weight of the snow on the roof, which has happened a number of tymes recently, and employees are injured. Say some are even killed. One was owned by a corporation and the other was owned by you, as a Sole pr [wikipedia.org]

    • I think it is wonderful that at least one government is providing information in open formats (ahem, 'nerd-friendly, "pipe-separated" files'). I can't see the connection though between the "New Hampshire Liberty Alliance" (the group that seems to promoted the change according to the article), and the Free Staters.

      The New Hampshire Liberty Alliance [nhliberty.org] is about preserving and expanding liberty. The Free State Project is about getting enough people who care about liberty to move to New Hampshire and run as a candidate or vote for a candidate who will cast votes to hold up liberty. The initial hope was that enough people would move there to impact politics there. While there may not be any official connection between the two organizations they may share members. I'd be surprised of they didn't.

      I thought of moving there

  • In New Hampshire they'll still be living under the large federal government. If they really want small government they should really think about emigrating altogether. Although they won't find many first-world countries where the government isn't significantly involved in the regulating society and running public services.

    • Well, there's always the option of secession. Remember, New Hampshire shares a border with Canada, and has coastal access to the Atlantic ocean. It could do very nicely for itself as a small nation in it's own right. I believe those were some of the reasons the Free State Project chose it.

      • by iserlohn (49556)

        He said -

        Although they won't find many first-world countries where the government isn't significantly involved in the regulating society and running public services.

        You said -

        Well, there's always the option of secession.

        I say -
        ~~~Woosh~~~

        • He also said

          If they really want small government they should really think about emigrating altogether.

          Which was the point I was responding to.

          Whoosh, yourself.

          • by iserlohn (49556)

            The point he made is that you could, if you want to live in Somalia, for example, which is apparently a libertarian paradise.

            Selective cognition is selective.

            • The point he made is that you could, if you want to live in Somalia, for example, which is apparently a libertarian paradise.

              1. Is Somalia A Libertarian Paradise? [quebecoislibre.org]
              2. Solamia [prometheus6.org] "was an experiment in anarchy, not libertarianism. Libertarianism is dependant on a small government providing for the protection of rights and enforcement of contracts."
              3. "Somalia as libertarian paradise? [typepad.com] "That response would, of course, be the one John Locke offered four centuries ago:"

                liberty is to be free from restraint and violence from others, which cannot be where there is no law; and is not, as we are told, “a liberty for every man to do what he l

      • Some Free-Staters (again, not all) actually have been working hard on the notion of State Sovereignty; see the FSP page [freestateproject.org] on this topic.

        Also, a new bill has been introduced this session:
        HCR19 - Affirming States' powers based on the Constitution for the United States and the Constitution of New Hampshire. [nhliberty.org]
        There are also a few bills in play this session asserting the NH manufacturing shall not be regulated by the federal government. Longshots? Well, with over a dozen Free-Staters elected to the NH House of Rep

    • NH has two large airports (Manchester and Portsmouth [and several smaller ones]), a power plant (Seabrook), and is not likely to be attacked on it's on if it adopts a foreign policy of non-interventionism and free trade (you know, like America was INTENDED to) - in addition we see $0.71 worth of services for every dollar we ship to DC, 47th out of 50 in the country (source: Federal Spending Received Per Dollar of Taxes Paid by State, 2005 - http://www.taxfoundation.org/research/show/266.html [taxfoundation.org]) - we no longer

      • by sjwaste (780063) on Tuesday February 08, 2011 @09:06AM (#35137012)
        Yeah, let's think about this. New Hampshire secedes, having infrastructure of its own. You know what happens next? Quebec. Now you have the lovable Habitants all riled up, seceding from the rest of Canada, and occupying a not insignificant stretch of land between Ontario and New Brunswick... and a border with New Hampshire. You see where this is going, right? Quebec, full of angry French (that the actual French don't actually like)? Now, I'm not talking about their inconvenient shipping lanes. They don't care about that, so they have no use for the stretch of land from Portsmouth to Seabrook. Get your head in the game.

        The GAME. Those assholes have been looking for something, anything, to bring back to Quebec City for years. And you know what? If New Hampshire secedes, the Quebecois are coming. They're marching straight down the I-93, trashing Concord, and laying over in Manchester. The airport? Nope. The Manchester Monarchs. Bingo. Is the Republic of New Hampshire prepared to defend the Monarchs franchise? I think not, and now you have the best AHL action this side of Glens Falls going up North to the Democratic People's Republic of Quebec. Now you've fucking done it.

        So the Monarchs are gone, and we've been driven back into Northeast Delta Dental Stadium - if it's even called that, since a fine organization like Delta Dental might not want to do business with a brand new foreign country. After all, we'd have no credit rating. Anyway, the Monarchs are gone and our problems are just beginning. After all, the LA Kings franchise trusted us to develop and guard that team. Implicitly, we agreed that their AHL affiliate would not just up and go to Quebec. And LA has a lot of firepower, as well as the ability to overwhelm us in other ways - Anze Kopitar, Paris Hilton, gangs whose names with which I am not familiar.

        So New Hampshire wants to secede, huh? Are you willing to risk Quebec becoming independent, stealing the Manchester Monarchs, and triggering war with LA over that? I thought not. The Fisher Cats just aren't that good.
        • They can have the Monarchs (who play in the Verizon Wireless Arena), the University of New Hampshire Wildcats are better anyways.

      • by drsquare (530038)

        How much of New Hampshire's economy relies on it being part of the United States?

    • The problem with emigration is that it is less practical than freeing a single state. There are two choices, move to an established country or establish a new one. Most established countries are less free, have near-impossible entry conditions, or have other significant disadvantages. Starting a new country is difficult because there are too many existing nasty countries that would be all too happy to steal everything from a new country not yet able to defend itself.
    • In New Hampshire they'll still be living under the large federal government. If they really want small government they should really think about emigrating altogether.

      Why should those who believe what the USA's Founding Fathers believed be forced to leave because others have mangled the Constitution Of the USA? Because socialists and other big government types say they have to?

      Falcon

  • by tprox (621523)
    What I found most interesting was the link in the article to opengovernment.org, which I followed on to this project: https://github.com/sunlightlabs/openstates [github.com] They provide the screen scrapers which feed the data to the main project. I"m sure that even with the gov't providing data freely there will still need to be formatting transformation required, and some screen scraping needed to get the full picture into some database somewhere. I'm sure there are other frameworks around that build up scraping/dat
    • by Seth Cohn (24111)

      The scraper used by the NHLA (referred to in the original article) is homebrewed for NH's website. It's actually in it's 3rd generation of code, and powers a complete bill review system, used by the pro-liberty activists to track all 800+ bills each year. See nhliberty.org

      There are other scrapers out there... I just came across a site the other day that attempts to scrape and track all 50 states worth of legislation (I won't plug them though), and had a few nice features (like facebook and twitter linkage

  • If you RTFA, it doesn't claim anywhere that "Free Staters" are behind this initiative. Nor does it even mention the Free State Project. The assertion on the Slashdot summary that this is a result of the Free State Project might be correct, but it would be nice to see some evidence backing this up.
    • by Ada_Rules (260218)
      The slashdot summary is not particularly well written and leads with a statement that is neither relevant to the bill nor present in the full article. I love the free state project. I like the bill. I just don't think this submission is particularly good.

      In an case, the Free State Project does not officially support or propose legislation. Representative Seth Cohn is the primary sponsor of the bill. He is a Free State Project participant. (See here http://freestatenow.com/ [freestatenow.com]).

      • by Seth Cohn (24111) on Tuesday February 08, 2011 @09:31AM (#35137386)

        What he said. Of course, what do I know, I'm only the guy he's talked about, and sponsor of the legislation?

        • by corbettw (214229)

          An elected Representative posts on Slashdot (with a five-digit UID, no less!) Maybe New Hampshire is calling my name, after all.

          • by dkleinsc (563838)

            As mentioned in my sorta-sibling post, the wonderful thing about NH's state government is that the legislature in particular is made up of motivated ordinary people rather than professional politicians. The entire professional political class in NH generally consists of:
            1. The governor.
            2. 2 US senators and 2 US representatives.
            3. 5 executive council members (a check on the power of the governor).
            4. 24 state senators, who generally also hold other jobs.
            5. A few mayors in major cities like Manchester and Nash

          • by Seth Cohn (24111)

            Yes, I have a 5 digit UID, and remember a time before the endless September. I was (in part) responsible for the SPISPOPD cheat code in Doom. Ich bin ein Nerd.

    • by dkleinsc (563838) on Tuesday February 08, 2011 @07:13AM (#35136184) Homepage

      As someone born and raised in NH, this probably has very little to do with the Free State Project. There a bunch of other reasons NH would implement this kind of thing:
        * The Republican base in NH are generally very libertarian-leaning. That's a major reason why the Free Staters picked NH as the place to go in the first place.
        * The NH Democrats agree with the Republicans on personal liberty issues and ensuring that the citizens control the government rather than the other way around.
        * The state takes great pride in its citizen legislature, and there's very few professional politicians. To give you an idea, the Speaker of the NH house spends a lot of her time running a day care center, and another state rep works as an elevator operator. Each rep only represents about 3000 constituents. That means they really need to listen to even small groups of citizens.
        * The longtime secretary of the state of NH, Bill Gardner, is probably one of the most non-partisan public officials in the country. He has a well-deserved reputation for fairness and competence, and as a result has been kept in office despite several changes in both the legislative majority and the governor's party affiliation. He knows a good idea when he sees one, and has a lot of trust from both Republicans and Democrats, so if he supports a good common-sense proposal it's likely to get implemented.

      The state has its flaws, but its state government is very responsive to good ideas.

      • by Plugh (27537) on Tuesday February 08, 2011 @07:37AM (#35136292) Homepage
        As someone who was at the meeting that created this "open government data initiative", I can tell you that it was 1 Free-Stater State Rep and one NH native State Rep that made this happen.
        • by dkleinsc (563838)

          In a lot of state legislatures, 2 reps with a good idea go nowhere. For comparison's sake, in Texas they're too busy playing chicken with the state budget to get anything done. In Rhode Island, most state official's primary concern is ensuring that there's a high-paying job for their no-good brother-in-law. In California, the ballot initiatives mean that there's absolutely no way to balance the budget within the bounds of the state constitution.

          Kudos to you (assuming you were one of the two reps), I'm just

          • by Plugh (27537)

            I was not one of the reps in question -- though one of the two (Seth) has posted on this thread.

            And the NH Constitution is pretty amazing. Among other things, they hard-coded [nh.gov] the elected legislators' salary at $200/biennium. So it would take a constitutional amendment to raise the politician's salary. Ain't gonna happen. I love it!!

          • by bored (40072)

            Texas they're too busy playing chicken with the state budget to get anything done.

            As an ex-NH resident, and now a resident of Texass, I would like to point out they are also passing emergency bills having to do with requiring photo ID to vote, "santuary cities", and requiring women who need abortions to see/hear the fetus before the abortion.

            Nothing will actually get done on the budget until a special session is called after the normal legislative session expires. That is the way it is in Texass, the politi

    • by necro81 (917438)

      If you RTFA, it doesn't claim anywhere that "Free Staters" are behind this initiative. Nor does it even mention the Free State Project.

      Even within New Hampshire, you hardly ever hear about the Free State project. They were completely inconsequential in the recent election, even though the statehouse ended up packed with small-government Republicans. About the only thing anyone's heard from them lately were some ornery demonstrations [concordmonitor.com] to legalize marijuana [wikipedia.org].

  • by Seth Cohn (24111) on Tuesday February 08, 2011 @09:37AM (#35137492)

    Glad to see Slashdot pick this up...

    The actual bills:

    Open Data: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/legislation/2011/HB0310.html [state.nh.us]
    Open Source: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/legislation/2011/HB0418.html [state.nh.us]

    I'd love to see this legislation copied in every state... patches are welcomed, btw. I can't grant commit access, but bug reports are always welcomed.

    I'd also be glad to answer questions, if anyone has any.

    • by chill (34294)

      On the Open Data bill:

      Section 3-I-g: Non-proprietary -- This one gives me some issues.

      First, a data format that is an ANSI, ISO or IEEE standard technically is under the control of a single entity. The standards body is a single entity, even though the body may have members from other organizations. You might want to clarify to explicitly mention national (ANSI) or international (ISO, IEEE) published standards.

      Section 3-I-h: License-free -- it says the DATA must be license-free, not the format. An exampl

    • by chill (34294)

      While focusing mostly on Federal Government, you might want to get in touch with Open Source for America [opensourceforamerica.org].

  • A reminder that New Hampshire is also considering approval voting [slashdot.org]. Is this a result of the same geek culture?

  • live_free() or die();

  • One of the Free State project members (at least, I think he's an FSPer) just posted an RSS feed from the State's data, and pulled it into this Facebook [facebook.com].

The typical page layout program is nothing more than an electronic light table for cutting and pasting documents.

Working...