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ThereOughtaBeALaw.org: Open-Source Legislating

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, September 15 2006

Scott Chacon's baby is just born and still a modest project, but go check out There Oughta Be A Law.org, "a website for people to work together to create online bills that they think should be laws."

Chacon, who ran a very idealistic and visionary campaign in the Democratic primary to challenge Rep. Richard Pombo last year, is a very talented programmer with lots of good ideas. This one could take off. I played with it for a bit and found the interface delightfully fluid and simple. It's easy to post an idea for a law, share bills with friends, sign on to sponsor other people's bills, suggest a change in a bill's title or text, and--if you're the author of a bill--approve other people's changes. You can also track developments with a bunch of RSS feeds.

Chacon says:

The idea is to allow legislators to outsource some of what they do to you. My idea was that as a candidate, how do you do a good representative job? Well, asking the people you represent what they think should be done to improve thier lives and community seemed like a pretty good start. A legislator can’t be everywhere and hear every story and problem, so I figured a place where we can all get together to decide what should be done and allow our representative to enact it would be a great choice for everyone involved. The legislator has to do less work and can do a better job doing what needs to get done, while we get to participate in a meaningful way in the process.

File this one in the same category as More Perfect, a wiki that is attempting to develop policy positions on issues for residents of Washington State. One of these days soon, a politician will decide to try grabbing hold of the communities that are bound to sprout of these sites. Then things will really get interesting...