Why Open Policy Forum?

Legacy services for engaging with state legislation are primarily designed to serve professional lobbyists with narrow policy interests. As activists, we know that our communities are impacted by a broad range of issue areas and that our power comes from the grassroots. Open Policy Forum is designed for us, by us.

Approachable Bill Display

With few exceptions (we see you, California!), states don't present legislation in a modern, human-first format, and monospaced PDFs don't exactly lend themselves to quick annotation. Our friendly default view and user-generated notes provide non-technical audiences with an easy entry point into engaging with live bill language. And for experts, because our legislative engine breaks bills down to their component parts behind the scenes, they can be reassembled for display however you like, such as choosing more informative outline indentation over strict drafting indentation.

One Bill, One Window

Deep legislative analysis sometimes requires half a dozen browser windows to chase down numerous incorporations by reference and check every cited statute for tomfoolery, which can be both time-consuming and obnoxious. On Open Policy Forum, if a statute is incorporated by reference we expand it inline so you can read it in context, and if a statute is cited we link to it for you.

In-Place Analysis

Read through a bill and add your thoughts as you go, just like leaving comments in Google Docs. Your notes live with the legislation so you don't need to keep track of random email threads or folders buried deep in a shared drive.

Effortless Sharing

Open Policy Forum's sharing features are inspired by social networks, so you're in control of the visibility of your analysis. Organizations can federate with one another to automatically share data - for example, a national LGBTQ advocacy organization can federate with a state LGBTQ organization so that any notes either of them add on a new bill are immediately visible to the other. Individual users can form their own coalitions, empowering volunteer networks to collaboratively tackle tracking and analysis. Even better, you can choose to make your comments on a bill public, providing crucial context and expert insight for anyone viewing the legislation and contributing to the democratization and demystification of policy work.

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Jamie Larson