University of Maryland’s Program for Public Consultation

NYT has this story on the University of Maryland School of Public Policy’s Program for Public Consultation, which has issued this report entitled “The Demand for Public Consultation.” Here’s the NYT’s summary of the program’s work:

In simulations conducted with House members from both parties, representative samples of citizens are solicited and given extensive information on a topic such as immigration or campaign finance and then meet with lawmakers to discuss solutions. The effort also includes a broader poll to assess sentiment in the member’s particular district.

Participants said it was striking, particularly in an era of intense congressional polarization and rampant misinformation, how much agreement they could find on issues that have bedeviled Congress for years….

Under the center’s vision, interested lawmakers would take a formal pledge committing to public communication….

Through polling and other research, a special “citizens cabinet” of several hundred representative constituents would be established. Using online tools, the panels would be briefed on major policy questions, given pro and con arguments and asked to make recommendations. Lawmakers would not be obligated to vote in line with the majority recommendations but would be expected to explain their rationale if they did not.

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