MAY 2024

House Admin Committee Allows Members to Partner with Organizations on Constituent Programming

Last week, the Committee on House Administration, chaired by Rep. Bryan Steil, marked up and passed H.R. 7593 – the Modernizing the Congressional Research Service’s Access to Data Act, which, in part, expands ethics rules to allow representatives the flexibility to co-sponsor events and programming for their constituents with civil society organizations. Currently, there are restrictions for members to partner in their districts with qualified outside groups to promote helpful opportunities and resources for constituents.

The groundwork for its passage was laid by the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress chaired by Rep. Kilmer and Rep. Timmons, with engagement from civic organizations, including Voice of the People. In its recommendation #154, the Modernization Committee called for “allowing district offices to co-sponsor constituent service events with non-governmental organizations to provide information and other resources to constituents.”

The vote green lights the House Ethics Committee amending the Congressional Handbook to allow co-hosted events to be planned, advertised, and aided by a Member’s staff to boost constituent awareness. This will allow Members of Congress to engage in innovative new ways of servicing and listening to constituents.

Call for Public Input on Federal Framework for Public Participation

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is seeking public input to help develop a Federal framework for public participation and community engagement. It is a great opportunity for all who want to improve how Federal agencies garner public input by using more representative and deliberative engagement practices. OMB’s Request for Information is open through May 17th.

The Program for Public Consultation’s submission underlines the benefits of federal agencies integrating public consultation surveys into major rulemaking debates. A helpful example of a public consultation survey related to a recent federal rule is PPC’s recent consultation on clean energy tax credits. If you have opinions and ideas for the Federal public input process, we encourage you to make your voice heard!

Public Consultation on AI Makes Waves in the Senate and Forbes

The public consultation on governing artificial intelligence conducted by UMD’s Program for Public Consultation was discussed in last week’s hearing on Artificial Intelligence put on by the Senate Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, chaired by Senator Blumenthal. Reporting on the public consultation survey also led Forbes’ Business and Editor’s Picks Newsletters: “AI Regulation Has Strong Bipartisan Approval.” The public consultation survey of 3,610 registered voters found very large bipartisan majorities favor giving the federal government broad powers to regulate AI.

Almost 40% of World’s Population Under Authoritarian Rule

According to the Democracy Index of 2023, less than 8% of the world’s population lives in a full democracy, while almost 40% live under authoritarian rule. The United States has once again been ranked as a “flawed democracy.” The analysis of 167 countries, revealed that 2023 had the lowest average global score for democracy since the inception of the index in 2006. Only 24 countries rated as a  “full democracy,” including Uruguay, South Korea, and Norway. The Democracy Index of 2023, is produced by The Economist Intelligence Unit, a sister company to The Economist Magazine.

Public Consultation Around the World:  Bosnian City of Mostar Launches Second Citizens’ Assembly

The City of Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina has once again consulted its people through government-supported participatory democracy processes. In January, the city launched its second Citizens’s Assembly with backing from the Council of Europe. The first Citizens’ Assembly was held in 2021 by the city regarding city cleanliness and was deemed a success.

During meetings of the assembly in February, the group voted on 29 recommendations regarding tourism and discussed their findings directly with the city council. “Deliberative democracy is a meaningful way to build a stronger sense of community and to make our cities and towns more thriving, inclusive, and resilient,” stressed Congress Secretary General Mathieu Mori.

 Try a Policymaking Simulation: Campaign Finance

Put yourself in the shoes of policymakers by trying our policymaking simulation on how to manage rules around financing federal campaigns. In this simulation, you’ll get a background briefing, learn the arguments for and against different proposals regarding reducing the influence of big campaign donors, and determine your recommendations. Once you finish the simulation, you’ll have a chance to send your recommendation to your Congresspeople.