The Deliberative Democracy Consortium

Aug 29th
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Home U.S. News Making Public Participation Legal

Making Public Participation Legal

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The DDC worked with a number of national associations to produce a model ordinance for public participation that is designed to Image retrieved from, July 27, 2012help cities hold more productive, deliberative public meetings and online activities. The ordinance was combined with a suite of other engagement tools in a National Civic League publication called Making Public Participation Legal. The working group that developed this resource included representatives of the American Bar Association, International Municipal Lawyers Association, NCDD, National Civic League, National League of Cities, and International City/County Management Association, as well as leading practitioners and scholars of public participation.

Most of the laws that govern public participation in the United States are over thirty years old. They do not match the expectations and capacities of citizens today, they pre-date the Internet, and they do not reflect the lessons learned in the last two decades about how citizens and governments can work together. Increasingly, public officials and staff are wondering whether the best practices in participation are in fact supported – or even allowed – by the law. Over the past year, the Working Group on Legal Frameworks for Public Participation has produced new tools, including a model local ordinance and model amendment to state legislation, in order to help create a more supportive, productive, and equitable environment for public participation. At the Brookings event, members of the working group will discuss the new tools and the larger questions about how to strengthen the legal framework for public participation. Making Participation Legal is available on the DDC Resource Page.