City Council Legislative Process Would Open for Online Feedback Under Proposal by Council Members Kallos and Vacca
New York, NY – New Yorkers would be able to comment and improve upon legislation online under Resolution 1104 introduced today by Council Members Ben Kallos and James Vacca.
Currently members of the public usually must show up at day time public hearings at City Hall or 250 Broadway that can last hours with public testimony often limited to only two minutes thereby limiting input and engagement in the legislative process from the public.
“New Yorkers should be able to ‘like’ and comment on City Council legislation to make civic engagement as easy as Facebook,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, Chair of the Committee of Governmental Operations. “Government must engage residents where they are in the way they want to engage, which means updating our legislative rules so people can engage online.”
“It’s very easy to comment online about last night’s dinner or the Yankees game, but it’s not currently possible to comment online directly to the NYC Council about critical legislation,” said Council Member James Vacca, Chair of the NYC Council Committee on Technology. “As elected officials, it is our job to voice the will of the people we represent. Making it easier for our constituents to engage us on legislative issues will improve civic engagement and hopefully reduce the wave of apathy that many feel for the political process.”
The New York State Senate currently allows public comments and tracking of legislation at NYSenate.gov.
Res. No. 1104
Resolution to Amend the Rules of the Council in relation to allowing the public to comment on legislation on the council’s website.
By Council Members Kallos and Vacca
5.110. Legislative Tracking and Open Data - The Office of the Speaker shall make available on the internet for use by the public a legislative tracking database containing the number, text, sponsorship and status of all proposed local laws and resolutions, committee reports, agendas, calendar, hearing testimony, transcripts, videos, committee assignments, voting records of members and any and all other associated materials in the public record [that can practicably be made available], and shall allow the public to post comments on such database regarding such proposed local laws and resolutions. All proposed local laws and resolutions in the public record as well as any information associated with each proposed local law or resolution available through the database will be provided to the general public on the database and on New York City’s open data portal in a machine-readable format [at no cost and without restriction as soon as practicable], and through an open application programming interface (API) that will provide the general public with bulk downloads as well as specifications for routines, data structures, object classes, variables, remote calls and such other information as would be necessary to access all information externally through an open standard such as a technical standard developed and maintained by a voluntary consensus body. All information and data posted online pursuant to this rule shall be available to the public without registration requirement, license requirement, royalty, fee or any other restrictions on their use in real time or as close to real time as possible, not to exceed 24 hours, in order to facilitate public engagement with the Council through the use of third-party software.