Monday, December 12, 2011

Introducing uLegislate: the Nevada Senate's Legislative Simulation

Welcome to “From the Well,” an occasional blog about the Nevada Senate.  While my Twitter feed (@NVSecSenate) will continue to be updated daily, I hope to update this blog about once every month or two with news and information that can’t be summarized in 140 characters or less.

Even before being appointed Secretary of the Senate, I was a longtime believer in the importance of participatory democracy.  The phrase is a bit of a mouthful, but the idea is powerful: our democracy is only as strong as the citizens who participate in it.  I think it’s an important part of my job to develop new ways to engage Nevadans in the legislative process, and to develop new ways to make this process more engaging, more relevant, and more interesting.  During the 2011 Session, I found Twitter to be one way to accomplish this goal: it gave me a communications tool to convey what was happening on the floor of the Senate.  I was able to engage with audiences both within the Legislative Building and with the community at large.  Through Twitter, I was able to answer questions from the gallery, provide updates on schedule, and explain parliamentary jargon… all in real time.

Today, continuing this effort to make the legislative process more accessible for Nevadans, I am very proud to introduce uLegislate.  This is a collaborative effort between the Senate and the Legislative Counsel Bureau, involving staff from LCB’s Information Technology, Broadcast, and Legal divisions.  Once a week, we will host a variety of groups (community groups, schoolchildren, chambers of commerce, church groups, any group that wants to learn more about the legislative process) within the Senate chamber for a one-hour legislative simulation.  We are currently hard at work developing the scripts, sample legislation, and technology needed to provide participants with a unique and informative first-hand experience. 

If your group participates in uLegislate, you might see your name on the big board in the Senate Chamber, voting for or against sample legislation.  You might have the opportunity to preside over a simulated session, from the same rostrum where the Lieutenant Governor presides.  You might be put through the paces of a Senate staffer or Sergeant at Arms, helping to keep the legislative day running smoothly and efficiently.  And in all of these cases, you will gain a valuable perspective on the legislative process and the difficult challenge facing Nevada’s Senators.

We have our "guinea pigs" lined up for February, and plan to launch this service to the general public in March.  Our goal is to have one group participate each week from March 5th to July 27th.  There is no charge to participate, though we may offer some premium services (for example, a DVD of your group’s experience) at a nominal fee and at-cost. 

A flyer about the program is available for download.  We are now taking reservations on a first-come, first-served basis.  For more information, or to reserve your week, please call us (775-684-1400) or email us.  We look forward to welcoming you for a first-hand look at the challenge of service in the Nevada Senate.