New Website Encourages Participation in Legislation!

Now that the $700 Billion Economic Stabilization Act has officially been approved and signed by President Bush many people are breathing a huge sigh of relief. Yet, there is still a sense of unease about what this bill will do and what it means for everyone. As citizens and taxpayers, our dollars are part of the plan to help fix the economy, so we deserve to have a voice.

There are often bills approved by our government that could have a major impact on our wallets and our rights as US citizens. However, while we are fortunate enough to live in a democratic country, perhaps we are not always as informed as we should be. Although the Freedom of Information Act fortunately created mandates requiring certain records and other information to be easily accessible by the general public, when it comes to reviewing legislation, it is not always an easy task.

In an effort to merge technology and access to information in the legislative process PublicMarkUp.org, provides an interesting option for transparency and participation in government. This website allows anyone to view proposed legislation before it is introduced to congress, or while it is pending. PublicMarkUp.org was originally launched in April 2008 by the Sunlight Foundation to solicit public edits and comments on a piece of legislation drafted by them, called the Transparency in Government Act of 2008. The goal was to create a collaborative bill before seeking legislative support. Now, the site has grown and you can view legislation including the Economic Stabilization Act.

The purpose of this site is to encourage the posting of comments and suggestions to potential legislation. The legislation is posted before it is introduced, or while it is pending to provide citizens a unique ability to contribute to the final provisions of a bill. Users can post comments and make suggestions, with a goal of having their opinions becoming part of the final decision making process of congress and the senate. So, although the Economic Stabilization Act has already been signed, there are sure to be many other interesting pieces of legislation that will warrant public comment. Also, it is interesting to view the legislation and comments to see the thoughts and opinions of other interested citizens.

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