My new post on Slaw is entitled What Do Citizen Lawmakers Need to Know? The post explores the information needs of nonlawyer citizens who are engaged in online lawmaking, in contexts such as eRulemaking, eConsultation respecting proposed legislation or regulations, or legislative or constitutional referenda.
The post is an initial attempt at addressing the question: As more and more citizens engage in lawmaking online, what information do they need to receive in order to understand the meaning and probable effects of proposed laws?
The post identifies 8 major types of information that individuals who are not lawyers arguably need to receive about a proposed law, in order to understand the meaning and likely consequences of that proposed law.
These information types were identified through a preliminary survey of the scholarly literature on the kinds of information about proposed laws that U.S. legislative and administrative counsel give to the nonlawyer official legislators and regulators whom they serve. I took this approach on the basis of two assumptions, both of which are certainly open to question:
- That these official counseling practices — because they have continued for many decades — likely reflect the nonlawyer official lawmakers’ actual information needs respecting proposed laws; and
- That the information needs of nonlawyer official lawmakers respecting proposed laws are likely to be very similar — if not identical — to the information needs of nonlawyer citizen lawmakers respecting proposed laws.
This post is the first product of a long-term study of nonlawyer citizens’ participation in online lawmaking. Subsequent research will involve a more extensive literature review, as well as empirical research on a range of issues respecting the information needs of nonlawyer citizens who participate in lawmaking online.
Comments are welcome.