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By Pam Greenberg

New websites in two states are encouraging citizens to speak up and have their voices heard by lawmakers.  

Arizona Voices, a joint project of state Senator Bob Worsley and Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, allows registered voters to follow, rate, and comment on current legislation. The site’s “Idea Lab” pages let users post and discuss ideas for improvement.

At Speak Up Oklahoma, sponsored by the Oklahoma House of Representatives, citizens are encouraged to register, submit their ideas on ways to improve the state, and vote on others’ ideas. Visitors to the site can view and sort the ideas by most popular, idea type, or latest ideas. 

A December news release describes the goals of the Oklahoma site. According to House parliamentarian and administrator Joel Kintsel:

The Oklahoma House has worked to become increasingly transparent,” Kintsel said. “In past years, we have introduced live video of session online, made votes available online and basically taken advantage of emerging technologies and software to create additional ways to connect state lawmakers with their constituents."

Other state legislatures also have encouraged citizen engagement through online initiatives. Since 2003, the Nevada Legislature has an online opinion poll to allow citizens to comment on bills when the legislature is in session. The New York Senate’s Open Legislation website, created in 2009, lets visitors sign up to submit comments about bills, which are available to view on the site.  

Other legislative sites encouraging public input include Alaska’s Public Opinion Messaging System, Maryland’s Voice My Opinion site, North Dakota’s Constituent Views, Washington’s Comment on this bill feature, Iowa's Iowa’s Public Input: Improving State Government and the Wyoming Legislature’s Online Hotline.

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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.

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