This week has not been an easy one for any of us. Certainly people most impacted by the Boston Marathon bombings or the West, Texas explosions had it worse than those of us who just had to watch in discomfort from a distance. The discomfort is that feeling that something is out of place. Maybe it’s just the fact that since Baseball’s opening day, we’ve gotten something like 65 inches of snow along Colorado’s front range. We all know that’s good news because it makes any real worries about water go away for another year, and there will be fewer wild fires this summer cause the ground is plenty wet now. Still it does not feel right. While timing of too many events seems off, those of us who were not “sheltered in place” went to work and school and just tried to get through more snow and take in the bad news. A lot of my work during the week involved staying on top of bills in the various state legislatures involving such topics as raw milk, farm protection or “ag-gag,” and labeling of genetically modified (GM) food. In the words credited to former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, the 50 state legislatures are “laboratories of Democracy.” It used to be that knowing what was going on in anything approaching real time in any single state capitol required having someone on the ground there who was “in the know.” Once you entered any state’s “marble palace,” you’d work your way to that one window or maybe a basement room where you could pick up an endless collection of pink, blue, and yellow sheets that were the bill status reports, calendars, and special orders. Next you’d go where the professional lobbyists were hanging out, it might be called “Ulcer Gulch” or maybe just the coffee shop also in the state capitol basement. A comfortable pair of shoes and good human intelligence went a long ways in those days. But just staying informed took hard work. The 50 state legislatures have now moved to the Internet, probably putting those all night print shops that published all those colored sheets out of business. But the public is the winner. Anyone can now get current copies of bills, calendars, daily schedules and committee agendas at the same time they are available to lawmakers and all those the gumshoe lobbyists. Many states are live streaming their floor sessions and the more interesting committee hearings. Most are kept in archives for anyone who wants to go back and look at them later. This may not seem like much to the generation that’s grown up with the technology, but for anyone who remembers the bad old days, the increase in productivity is breathtaking. And it isn’t so much the productivity of state lawmakers, but everyone involved with them. It was never the elected ones who were on the road for two hours of heavy rain and bad traffic only to learn a committee meeting was cancelled, it was you. Food Safety News is a big user of state legislative websites and we are thankful they exist. We’ve been able to report on legislative developments involving food safety in state after state. Reporters used to say they’d like to be “a fly on the wall” somewhere, and with the Internet access we can all be “flies on the wall.” I suspect with streaming videos and real time production, many capitol city daily newspaper reporters are making fewer trips to the statehouse campus these days because they can sit back in their offices and watch the action live. Of course, the capitol reporters have the advantage that we don’t. They can walk in to the statehouse, find a lawmaker, and ask a question. We can call their offices or send an email, but few respond in these final throes of the (most) state legislative sessions. The Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures, also an excellent source of information on statehouse action, reports that 12 of the 50 state legislatures have already adjourned for the year. More will go dark before May 1st. For everyone wanting to know what’s actually happening during the intense days at the end of a session, technology has been our friend and transparency has become a hallmark of the 50 statehouses. Who would have predicted that one?