Friday, May 4, 2007

Why comments matter

In a lengthy discussion thread on Tribe, several people were pretty skeptical about whether or not the commenting process would make any difference. Deborah made several important points that are worth highlighting: the impact on politicians, how DHS will react if they don't get a lot of comments, and the real possibility that a comment outcry will make a difference.

The impact on politicians is most straightforward:

States are lining up against the Act, although some are on the fence about it. A strong showing from the public will not only let DHS know how we feel about it, but it will also be a boost in the undecided states -- and increase the momentum for a repeal in Congress. The commenting process isn't easy, and so legislators estimate that each comment represents the views of 1,000 people ... your voice matters a lot.

The other two require a bit of context for how the "rulemaking" process works. Briefly, once Congress passed Real ID in 2005 (with no debate, as a rider to a "must pass" spending bill ... but that's another story), DHS has the responsibility proposing a "rule" to implement the law. All proposed rules go through a public commenting period; the proposed rule can be adopted as is, or can be rejected. If rejected, it needs to be redrafted and sent out again for public comment. The current commenting process ends May 8.

Deborah writes:

The more negative comments DHS receives, the less likely it will be that the rule will be adopted.... If that happens, we have another 30 or 60 days to try to convince Congress to repeal the law.

If no one says anything during the comment period, DHS will say that the public is fine with Real ID, and fine with all of the privacy invasive decisions contained in their draft rule.


And these kinds of commenting processes do work to kill bad laws. The example Deborah gave:

The biggest one I've seen involved Secure Flight -- a passenger profiling system that the US wanted.

DHS and DoT published a draft rule in the Federal Register .... We commented it to death, we hit all of the press we could, and basically forced them to convene a committee (DHS put it together). A scathing report was issued, and guess what? Secure Flight was killed. It's still dead.

So yes, this is a difficult and somewhat obscure process ... but it's well worth doing.

jon

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

My husband and I are one of many who do not want a national id card masquerading itself as the chip! There is absolutley no need for this.
First of all, this is not in the main stream media. There are many people who are not even aware that the governement is trying to control them and watch their every move. They are not aware that major corporations are banning together to place chips in everything from cream cheese to levis. Many senior citizens would oppose this if they knew about it. None of the nominees are speaking about this. You have to ask yourself why not? I feel as though I am living in a real life nightmare. This is the beginning stages of the mark of the beast. Whether you want to believe this or not this is real. We do not want to be branded like cows. This is not natzi germany. We are not children who crave leadership we are adults who crave peace and sovereignty. Take a step back and look at what is going on........Our borders are wide open, we are being policed, tasered, toremented and all our rights are being stripped from us. Crazy frightening bills are being passed right under our noses while we all struggle to keep our homes and get paid less and less for our hard work. I often asked myself why when Hitler was in power, why did everyone follow? Now, I know.
New Hampshire needs to break away from the federal government. We need to become self reliant.

Anonymous said...

what about the amish. no one every brings them up. they have no id's or s.s. numbers they are more american than most of us living here as citizens. I always ask goverment controled areas what would you do if i were amish? are you going to discriminat against me? they are so ignorant they do not know what to do. most do not relize that we are suppose to be free here in the U.S. ps my kids do not have s.s.# it is there right not to have them. i guess we should get used to "let me see your papers" in english rather than german accent.

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