Public comments versus writing your representative

Patricia from Minnesota wrote in with a question about public comments:

Something else I would absolutely LOVE to see, is a compilation of all legislation that is open for public comments. Almost invariably, I find out about legislation that I have an interest in just as the comment period is about to end or is already closed.

“Public comments” refers to the rule making process in the executive branch, which is different from legislation in Congress. When federal agencies like the FAA, the DOT, etc. want to create regulations, they must first go through a long process called rule making. Rule making involves a mandatory public comment period, and the agencies are required to take the comments into consideration. The end of the rule making process is usually a regulation, and it appears in the Federal Register and later the Code of Federal Regulations.

On GovTrack we only do legislation — that is, the bills proposed and enacted by the legislative branch of government (the Congress). So while we don’t get involved in regulations and public comments, you can write your representative and senators any time about any bill currently before Congress. To do so, look for the Speak Up At POPVOX button on every bill page (for live bills) — you’ll be taken to, a company I co-founded in 2010 to help constituents write letters to Congress.