From the Deliberative Democracy Consortium:

Tired of tense, unproductive public meetings? Want to embed better online and face-to-face processes in the way governments work? Making Public Participation Legal, a new publication of the National Civic League, includes a set of tools, including a model ordinance, set of policy options, and resource list, to help communities improve public participation. The publication is now available for free. Download here. 

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 predate 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. The Working Group has been coordinated by the Deliberative Democracy Consortium (DDC).

Making Public Participation Legal is a publication of the National Civic League, with support from the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation. The Working Group also includes representatives of the American Bar AssociationInternational Municipal Lawyers AssociationNational League of CitiesPolicy Consensus InitiativeInternational Association for Public Participation, and International City/County Management Association, as well as leading practitioners and scholars of public participation.

Communities that want to move forward with new public engagement processes and policies can also turn to an array of new resources being offered through ICMA’s Center for Management Strategies. CMS has assembled a team of leading engagement practitioners, research specialists, and subject matter experts who can help local governments develop and implement effective civic engagement programs.