LLRXBuzz – August 6, 2001 – State Survey: Iowa – Massachusetts

Tara Calishain is the co-author of Official Netscape Guide to Internet Research, 2nd Edition, and author or co-author of four other books. She is the owner of CopperSky Writing & Research.

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Welcome back! I hope you’re enjoying the tour of the 50 states’ sites. If you visit a state site after reading this column, and find something you think I missed, by all means tell me about it! Just because we’re doing a special series on state sites doesn’t mean that we won’t cover state sites again after we get back to our regularly scheduled LLRXBuzz.

This week we’re cruising from Iowa to Massachusetts, except we’re missing a state: Kentucky. Kentucky is one of the most beautiful states in the country and I wouldn’t slight it for anything, but despite repeated trying I couldn’t get their Web site to come up. So Kentucky gets a miss this week; I’ll try it again next week.

Iowa – http://www.state.ia.us/

Wow, what a gorgeous header graphic! Iowa gets my award for the most “Web-aware” site I’ve visited so far; they offer visitors a chance to see site usage stats, have a browser check available, and offer many useful off-site links from the front page.

Not that the site itself doesn’t have a lot to offer. At
http://www.state.ia.us/main/addressbooks/ADstate/index. html there’s an A-Z index of contacts for state agencies and information. It’s all on one page, but a
combination of bookmarks and drop-down menus makes it nicely navigable.

Iowa’s legislative page is at http://www.legis.state.ia.us/. There’s a search engine on this page, but it’s not clear what it searches. In fact, the search engine help page has its own index.. a bit disappointing that it’s so complicated, considering how good the front page is. Nevertheless, the legislative page links to several legal documents, including the Code of Iowa and the Constitution of Iowa, and even offers floor debate audio when the legislature is in session.

Kansas – http://www.accesskansas.org

Ooo! A welcome mat, right there on the front page. How nice.

Kansas doesn’t try to put a bunch of resources on its front page; instead it provides a variety of categories on the left side of the page. You’ll find links to Kansas’ employment laws and regulations on the page “Operating a Business in Kansas” (http://www.accesskansas.org/operating/index.html). This page includes a list of professions with related resources (from Accounting to Trucking & Transportation) and the aforementioned link to laws and regulations (including required posters and ADA guidelines)

The Kansas Government page is at http://www.accesskansas.org/government/index.html. This site provides links to several different legislative utilities and resources, some of which are
not available unless you subscribe to the Information Network of Kansas. Items available to non-subscribers include single bill tracking, bill subject index, and
Kansas statutes.

Louisiana – http://www.state.la.us/

Louisiana almost fits their entire front page onto one screen. Almost — it’s a little long. But there’s not too much here to work with — you’ll have to explore some to find the good stuff.

What good stuff? Well, there’s the Louisiana State Legislature at http://www.legis.state.la.us/, which offers an excellent bill search on its front page. It also offers legislative press releases and a list of news outlets around the state — an interesting touch.

There’s also the Louisiana Services Directory at http://wwwsrch2.doa.state.la.us/sdsprod/user/usermain.asp. This page allows you to list services and licenses by department, alphabetically, or to search. You may search by keyword, category, or subcategory. The results are nicely put together, with extensive annotation for each site.

Maine – http://www.state.me.us/

Maine gets my “no-nonsense Web site” award. You load the site and immediately your eye is drawn to the large words on the left side of the site: GOVERNMENT! BUSINESS! LIVING! VISITING! (The all-caps and the exclamation points are mine.)

This site also has three drop-down menus on the front page — Most Visited, What’s New, and Summer in Maine – – that make it easy to navigate. There’s a monster search engine at http://www.informe.org/icrs/ICRS that searches “the documents on file with the State of Maine for all business and non-profit corporations, trademarks, limited partnerships, limited liability partnerships and limited liability companies.” You can search by keyword, charter number, and category. Searching for “Maine Coast Sea Vegetables” brought up basic corporation information about that company, with the option to purchase additional information like stock data and certificate of good standing.

There’s also a nifty bill status search at http://janus.state.me.us/legis/status/search.asp. This site allows you to search by a number of things, including committee name, sponsor name, and co-sponsor name. Nicely done.

Maryland – http://www.state.md.us

Maryland wants you to be able to Get Things Done, thus the link of the same name at http://www.state.md.us/mecthing.html. This page leads to a range of helpful resources, including a database of charitable organizations in Maryland, at http://www.sos.state.md.us/sos/charity/html/search.html, a set of occupational and professional licensing information at http://www.dllr.state.md.us/license/electron.html, and a variety of medical profession information at http://www.state.md.us/things/medical.html.

Maryland also has an listing of cities, towns, and communities in Maryland; reach it at http://www.state.md.us/meccity.html. It is browsable by alphabet. It’s astonishing how many communities have online presences!

Massachusetts – http://www.state.ma.us/

Massachusetts, unlike some of the sites I’ve looked at, puts a LOT of links on its front page. But they’re organized in such a manner that they’re more helpful
than overwhelming.

I liked the page o’ databases at http://www.state.ma.us/sch.htm. Its offerings include an attorney lookup, lobbyist and employer search system, and a professional license search. Also appreciated was the catalog of directories at
http://www.state.ma.us/dir.htm. There was all kinds of stuff here, from 24 hour pharmacies to a list of vehicle inspection stations.

Massachusetts isn’t going to win any design awards for its site, but it manages to make an awful lot of information easily navigable and available within one or two clicks. They’re also very active in updating the site; site news from August 3 is available on the front page. Well done.

Next week: Kentucky (hopefully) and seven more states.

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