History, politics, people of Oly WA

Write your own laws

Ever since Sinced Sliced Bread, I’m surprised that more projects to collect “good ideas,” especially for laws, haven’t cropped up. If you were a organization like People for Puget Sound or… geese what’s another one… well, another single issue organization, it would be cool to send out a letter to all your check writers and ask them to come up with the next great “idea” in your little slice of the world.

How to best clean up Puget Sound or best way to keep farms in business. But, from what I’ve seen, no one (in an organizational sense) has jumped on the Idea Train.

There are a few examples of broader efforts:

The first is totally self promoting, but I’m part of a loose group of bloggers who are trying to put together the “Washington Netroots Agenda,” a grassroots written collection of laws for (hopefully) the 2007 session.

We had a pretty good start, but in the last three or four weeks, things have pretty much tapered off.

Second is a group that has made a pretty good name for itself in the past several months, More Perfect is a wiki site that lets users rewrite things like the constitution, the bill of rights, and my favorite, Priorities of Government for Washington.

The Netroots Agenda has hooked up with More Perfect, by the way, on this page.

Scott Chacon, a former congressional candidate in California has launched thereoutabealaw.org, which seems to be very similar to the Netroots Agenda, but with a much broader scope.

One of the major differences is between the NA and TOBAL is Scott is looking for politicians or lawmakers (strange distinction now) to sponsor a few of the bills suggested in TOBAL, bring them to the front of public debate.

He also allows people to suggest changes to a bill, which the bill sponsors can keep if they want. Something I wish I was a cool enough coder to understand how he did.

If I was to find one point to all of these sites, it would be that the “sausage making process” that lawmakers imply we don’t want to be any part of, or even see, is actually the most important process. What gets traded out, what we can live without and what we won’t back down on in terms of our laws, is the most important conversation, politically.


  1. Anonymous

    actually, this post gives me an idea. maybe it would be a good idea to add groups (organizations) type functionality to TOBAL. I wanted to add a lawmaker concept, where a lawmaker could see what people in their district were suggesting and voting for, but adding a groups function would be a really useful thing. Then the ‘how to save puget sound’ group could register and send emails to point to TOBAL and that might boost usage. it would be a useful and easy to use tool for orgs trying to do something like that.

    if I end up doing that, I’m giving credit to you, emmett. thanks for the post.

  2. Emmett

    It would also be interesting to somehow partner ideas based on specific locations with local efforts. Sort of like a NA to TOBAL tie in.

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