Steve Urquhart is the Rules Chairman of the Utah House of Representative. Before I worked in the Governor's office, I had no idea what that meant. It's a very powerful position because the Rules Committee essentially decides what bills make it to the floor and can be voted on. In other words, they're the gatekeepers who decide what legislation gets to a vote.
Rep. Urquhart is also one of the Utah politicians most committed to transparency in Government. He was one of the first politician bloggers in Utah or anywhere. Now, he's taken a big step toward making the legislative process more open and accessible: Politicopia. In his words:
For me, the beauty of the Internet is its ability to cut out the middleman. Though the Internet has moved sellers and consumers closer together, its strides in politics haven't yet been so grand. In politics, intermediaries -- like special interest groups, bureaucrats, and the media -- heavily filter information between people and their elected officials.
In an effort to give people a more direct handle on the issues pending before the Utah Legislature (and to give elected officials a better read on what the public wants), some friends and I started Politicopia. Check it out, participate in the dialogue, and help move your government where you want it to go.From Steve Urquhart
Referenced Mon Jan 22 2007 10:44:41 GMT-0700 (MST)
I like this idea for a couple of reasons:
- Rather than letting the "experts" tell us about bills, we can discuss them directly. Blogs do that as well, but in a more distributed way.
- Rather than a general political debate, the site encourages debate about specific bills. That's important because it focuses the discussion.
I think this is a huge event. For the first time I can imagine, the Rules Committee is saying "tell us what you think" and giving you the tool to do it. Take a minute and go to Politicopia and comment on a bill that's already there, or, if the bill you care about isn't there, add it.