You don’t have to be a supporter of electronic direct democracy to appreciate the functionality incorporated into the Sunlight Foundation’s new Scout initiative. Scout is a free online legislation alert system that has recently come out of public beta, and it allows anyone to receive a text message or email each time that anyone in Congress introduces a bill that would affect one of your predetermined priority issues. The alerts are not just limited to Congress, as it also covers state legislatures as well as rulings by federal and state regulatory agencies. If there is anything pending in government that might affect you, Scout will notify you of it.
Scout Is Simple & Effective
Using Scout is simplicity itself as all you have to do is to key in the term(s) you are most interested in, and Scout will produce a listing of all pending legislation and regulation associated with that term. Consider it a Google for lawmaking, but with the added attraction that whenever your “pet” interests are referred to, you’ll be immediately notified.
An Instant Review of Federal & State Legislation & Regulation
Let’s assume that you have a “driving” interest in motorcycles. Informing Scout that you’re a motorcycle enthusiast will trigger notifications for anything that is coming up in the legislative or regulatory schedules concerning motorcycles. It might be a new Environmental Protection Agency regulation determining maximum particulate emission from motorcycle exhaust systems; your state’s Department Of Transportation tightening helmet laws to eliminate the cruiser’s favorite pudding bowl half helmets; or licensing requirements that mandate several years of on the road experience before you can legally ride a widowmaker such as the Suzuki Hayabusa, which can easily break the 200 mph barrier with some tweaking of the electronic speed limiter.
Beaming Light onto Layers of Obfuscation
Scout can be seen to be a massive step forward in delivering public transparency to legislative and regulatory structures that are usually obfuscated in layers upon layers of lawyers. In this regard the Sunlight Foundation is certainly aptly named as beaming light onto these critical aspects of legislation is a key function that can benefit all citizens, removing the barriers for anyone to be able to clearly understand what laws are brewing and how they might affect their own lives and lifestyles.
Scout May Become the Favored Tool of a Tiny Minority
The Sunlight Foundation’s Scout represents one of the primary new tools available to all Americans to enhance citizen awareness and force the politicians into providing far greater accountability for their actions. If there are limitations for Scout they are emphatically not the fault of the Foundation, as it has provided the necessary infrastructure to offer the facility to all interested parties, but deals with the interest level of citizens themselves. Scout is not going to come looking for you, as you are the one who has to visit the Scout site and start plugging in the various subjects that affect you. Given the overwhelming sense of apathy that has pervaded the electorate in recent years, Scout can be counted upon to become a favored tool of a very tiny minority who will exercise their fundamental right to be kept aware of upcoming legislation and regulation, while the vast majority of the voting public will remain blissfully unaware that Scout even exists.
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