Public Policy for Dummies

We’ve all seen those books titled, “[fill in a topic] for Dummies” that represent that after you’ve read the book on a particular topic, you’ll know enough to get by. There’s a similar approach to public policy, and you don’t even have to buy a book!

The wonderful people at the State of Nevada Legislative Counsel Bureau provide staff support to our Legislators. Their job is to do the research and marshal information so our elected officials can make sound decisions. All their reports are on the Legislative website, and it’s available for anyone. If you want to come off to your friends as a full-on policy wonk, check this out.

Find the Legislative home page on the state website: http://www.leg.state.nv.us/  Look at the left-hand corner, in the circle; you’ll see Research/Library. Clicking there will take you to a page saying “Welcome to the Research Division,” and there’s a ton of interesting stuff to check out there. But go to the left side and click on “Publications of the Research Division.” That opens up more choices, and the hot topics are flagged with buttons marked “New.” Choose “Research Briefs and Issue Papers” and you can read up on even controversial topics such as firearms and “vaping.” These two were just published in February 2015.

For a really quick read, go back to the “Publications” menu and choose “Fact Sheets.” These are two or three page rundowns on medical marijuana, the prevailing wage law, drones, and more. If you’re into statistics or little-known facts, there are other fact sheets you’ll love.

The Legislative Counsel Bureau’s main function is to ensure that Legislators are informed, but your tax dollars pay for all their research, and there’s no reason not to make use of it. There is probably no other place you can find such unbiased, professional information on topics that affect us all. An informed electorate is one of the pillars of our democracy, and LCB makes it easy to be informed.

The ELCA Social Statement on Church and Society says “God works through the family, education, the economy, the state, and other structures necessary for life in the present age. . . . This church must participate in social structures critically, for sin also is at work in the world. . . . Christians also exercise their calling by being wise and active citizens. Christians need to be concerned for the methods and content of public deliberation. . . .” The Legislative Counsel Bureau can certainly help us all fulfill that obligation.

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